If you often find yourself tired or sick, it may be time to start integrating a master tonic or two into your self-care routine. You may find one of the strongest antibiotic you can make yourself.
By definition, a tonic is a “medicinal substance taken to give a feeling of vigor or well-being”, but it’s so much more than that (1)! Natural tonics have been used for millennia to treat everything from upset stomachs to low energy and even sexual dysfunction.
In fact, during the great plague of London in 1066, four thieves robbed the homes of the sick and dying without getting ill. They exchanged their health secret in exchange for their freedom: a vinegar solution spiced with herbs and other natural ingredients. “Four thieves vinegar” quickly become the tonic of the century (2).
The Modern Health Tonic
Nowadays, tonics are used in herbal medicine by naturopaths, herbalists, and nutritionists. They typically contain powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial ingredients, like turmeric, ginger, and garlic.
For convenience’s sake, premade tonics are available in health food stores, pharmacies, and even juice shops. In fact, with the easy availability and heavy promotion of pharmaceuticals, few people bother to make their own tonics.
With the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the grocery list of side effects for every pill on the market, tonics are slowly regaining popularity. Many conventional families have even begun to rely on them as the first line of defense against the cold and flu.
Think of them as a cut above the old chicken soup and lemon tea remedy your mother and grandmother swore by every time you fell ill. Plus, they usually (but not always) taste much better than those artificial syrups and sprays your doctor recommends.
18 Master Tonic Recipes You Need To Try
For whatever your illness, there’s a tonic for you! If you’re not quite sure what you’re suffering from, try the fire cider master tonic or the cleansing tea tonic.
1. 7-Ingredient Master Tonic
This master tonic with turmeric recipe is a natural antibiotic that strengthens your immune system, purifies the blood, creates better blood circulation and lymph flow in your entire body.
- 2 tbsp turmeric powder or 2 knuckles of turmeric root
- 24 oz apple cider vinegar (always use organic)
- ¼ cup finely chopped garlic
- ¼ cup finely chopped onion
- 2 fresh peppers, the hottest you can find (be careful with the cleaning – wear gloves!)
- ¼ cup grated ginger
- 2 tbsp grated horseradish
- Combine the ingredients in a bowl, except for the vinegar.
- Pour the mixture into a Mason jar.
- Add some apple cider vinegar to the mix until it fills up to the top. Ideally, the jar should ⅔ dry ingredients and the rest should be vinegar up to the top.
- Close tightly then shake.
- Keep the jar in a cool and dry place for about 2 weeks. Shake well several times a day.
- After 14 days, squeeze well and strain it.
- Use a spoonful of the mixture as needed when you feel ill.
2. Flu Season Tonic
This tonic soothes and relieves sore throat pain and works as a cough suppressant. It can also help with nausea and other stomach ailments.
- 2 inches fresh ginger (peeled and diced)
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbsp raw honey
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Place cinnamon, ginger and water in a saucepan with lid.
- Cover pan and bring water to a boil.
- Reduce heat, simmer for 15 minutes with the pan covered.
- Strain and pour into a mug.
- Add honey and lemon juice.
3. Anti-Inflammatory Honey Turmeric Tonic
Use this recipe to treat arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and even cystic fibrosis. Beware, it is a little sour and spicy, but toned down by the turmeric and honey.
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Combine lemon and honey and mix well.
- Add turmeric and cayenne and scoop the mixture into a cup of warm water.
- Enjoy immediately.
4. Fire Cider Master Tonic
This strong-flavored apple cider vinegar tonic recipe combines natural antivirus ginger and garlic, anti-cancer horseradish and detoxifying onions to yield 1/2 gallon of tonic.
- 6 cups habaneros, stems/caps removed
- 5 bulbs garlic, peeled, cloves halved
- 15 inches ginger, washed, skins on, coarsely chopped or grated
- 6 medium sized white onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 cups of horseradish root, sliced crosswise
- 6 inches turmeric root, thoroughly washed in cold water, coarsely chopped or grated
- 2 lemons sliced, but unsqueezed
- 1 cup holy basil
- 8 cups of filtered water
- 1 pinch salt
- Prepare your washed veggies and grate your turmeric and ginger.
- Remove the stem and calyx on your peppers and slice them into small pieces. You might want to wear gloves while doing this.
- Slice your horseradish into large, thin disks/slices and peel your onions and cut them into chunks.
- Place turmeric, garlic and ginger in the bottom of your vessel, top with habaneros, then with onions.
- Follow up with holy basil and lemon slices then place the horseradish slices across the top so as to form an almost flat layer.
- Mix salt into the water and then slowly pour it over the veggie layers.
- Once all the veggies are submerged, cover the whole thing with a tight-weave cloth and secure with a rubber band.
- Allow the mixture to ferment at room temperature for 3 weeks. At the end of that time, strain off the liquid and toss the veggies into the compost.
- Move it to the fridge for storage.
- If you feel a cold coming on, mix a tablespoon of the tonic into a glass of room temperature water and drink it down quickly. If you’re already sick, try taking a tablespoon straight. It will hurt a little, but it’ll work!
5. Beet Kvass
This probiotic drink is popular in eastern Europe, Ukraine, and Russia. It’s useful in improving digestion, alkalizing the blood and body, cleansing the liver and dissolving kidney stones. Plus it helps with improving gallbladder function and bile flow.
Drink a 4-ounce glass every morning and night. What’s more, you can use it to replace vinegar in salad dressings. The recipe below makes two quarts. For more specific instructions, click here.
- 3-4 medium/large beets, preferably organic
- 1 tablespoon sea salt if using a culture starter or 1 1/2 tablespoons if not using a starter
- 1/4 cup liquid culture starter; whey or juice from sauerkraut.
- filtered water
- Wash your beets well, removing any dirt. If organic you can leave the skin on, if not organic, peel.
- Chop the beets into small cubes about 1/2 – 1 inch.
- Add the beets to your two-quart glass jar.
- Add the sea salt and starter, if using. Fill the jar with filtered water. Leaving about 1 inch at the top.
- Securely cover the jar.
- Let sit 3-7 days or until your desired taste is reached. If not using a starter, let sit 7 to 10 days.
- Transfer to the refrigerator, straining the beets and bottling it first if you’d like.
6. Citrus–Prickly Pear Elixir
Enjoy this drink to get a quick boost of vitamin C and antioxidants. In fact, a medium-sized prickly pear fruit contains 25 percent of your RDA of vitamin C. This vitamin prevents cancer, heart disease, hypertension, and osteoporosis. It also fights free radical damage and protects DNA (3).
- 1 grapefruit, peeled, flesh very coarsely chopped
- 1 blood orange or navel orange, peeled, flesh very coarsely chopped
- 1 lemon, peeled, flesh very coarsely chopped
- 1 lime, peeled, flesh very coarsely chopped
- 2 prickly pears, cut into 1½” pieces
- 1 bunch mint
- 1 Fresno chile (optional)
- 1 2″ piece unpeeled ginger, chopped
- ½ cup chopped unpeeled turmeric (from about 2 ounces whole)
- Pass citrus, prickly pears, mint, Fresno chile (if desired), ginger, and turmeric through a juicer.
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, if desired, into a pint jar or large glass.
- Chase with a full glass of water after drinking.
7. Honey Ginger Lemonade Tonic
Antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting, this healthy tonic recipe is perfect to fight a sore throat. Plus, the lemon thins out phlegm to suppress a cough while the honey soothes painful mucous tissue in your mouth and throat.
- 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
- ⅓ cup honey
- 1 cup boiling water
- Juice of three lemons (about ⅓ cup)
- Ice and water
- In a heat-proof bowl (or a glass measuring cup), mix together the ginger pieces, honey, and boiling water.
- Stir well until the honey is dissolved, and then let steep for 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, fill a two-quart pitcher with ice.
- Once the ginger is done steeping, strain liquid into the pitcher, and add the lemon juice.
- Fill the rest of the way with water, and stir well.
8. Browning’s Blended Spirits Blood Tonic
This super tonic has been rumored to treat hypertension, blood disorders, and even cancer. Most of the ingredients listed below can be found in any health food store, herbalist, or even online. Whatever you do, do not take this tonic if you are pregnant or if you are currently taking any blood thinning medication (4).
- 3oz each of the following dried herbs:
- Anise seed (pimpinella anisum)
- Blue violet (viola odorata)
- Burdock root (arctium lappa)
- Chaparral (larrea tridentate)
- Dandelion root (taraxacum officinale),
- Fennel (foeniculum vulgare),
- Licorice root (glycyrrhiza glbra),
- Oregon grape (mahonia aquifolium),
- Poke root (phytolacca Americana),
- Red clover (trifolium pretense)
- Yellow dock root (rumex crispus).
- 40 oz of Honey or Black Strap Molasses.
- 16 oz of Vegetable glycerin.
- 4 Tablespoons of Citric acid
- 5 gallons of distilled water
- In one pot add: Anise seed, burdock root, chaparral, dandelion root, fennel, licorice root, Oregon grape root, poke root, yellow dock root and add 3 gallons of distilled water.
- Cover with lid and set on stove on warm heat overnight so that the roots can be softened for extraction.
- In the morning turn up the heat and bring the water to a low simmer for about 4 hours then bring to a boil for 15-30 minutes. After boiling turn off heat and strain the liquid into a clean container by laying a layer of cheesecloth over your strainer.
- In another pot add: Blue violet, red clover and add 1.5 gallons of distilled water. Set on counter and let soak in water overnight.
- In the morning, place the pot on the stove on warm/medium heat to steep (not boil) the herbs like you would a cup of tea. Let them steep for at least 4 hours then strain the liquid by laying a layer of cheesecloth over your strainer.
- Compost the strained herbs in your garden.
- Once the liquid is strained from both pots mix it together in one of the 20-quart pots and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Then add vegetable glycerin, honey, and citric acid. Stir and let the mixture mingle for 15 minutes or so.
- When ready to bottle use a candy thermometer to check the temperature of the liquid. You want the temperature between 185* – 190* to prevent any bacteria to grow in the tonics. Maintain this heat temperature throughout bottling.
- While waiting for your liquid to reach the accurate bottling temperature prepare your canning jars. Sterilize jars and lids.
- Once your bottles are sterilized and your herbal liquid is at the right temperature add the tonic liquid to the hot jars. Fill to ½” from top of jar and cap. Let cool overnight. Check to make sure all the jars are sealed properly then store them.
- Once you open a jar of tonic for use, you must refrigerate it. The tonic will last for a month in the refrigerator once it has been opened. Give the jar a little shake or stir to mix the sediment before taking.
9. Lemon ACV Tonic
This simple tonic is a great way to detoxify your body, improve digestion, and improve your skin. Just make sure to drink it through a straw to avoid damaging your teeth with the acidity of the lemon and vinegar.
- 12-16 ounces warm water
- Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
- 1-2 Tbsp. ACV with “The Mother”
- Pour all ingredients into a mug or cup and enjoy!
10. Cleansing Tea Tonic
Nutrients are lost when ingredients boil, so steep this cold-and-flu-buster at a relatively low temperature for an effect cleansing tonic.
- 1 2″ cinnamon stick
- ¼ cup coriander seeds
- 1 bunch cilantro, with roots if possible, lightly bruised with the side of a knife
- 1 bunch rosemary, lightly bruised with the side of a knife
- 1 2″ piece peeled ginger, finely grated
- 2 bags organic detox tea
- 1 tablespoon manuka honey or raw honey
- 1 tablespoon raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- Toast cinnamon stick and coriander seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant and beginning to crackle, about 4 minutes (go easy, you don’t want to burn them).
- Crush on a cutting board with the side of a chef’s knife or cleaver (or use mortar and pestle). Transfer to a large saucepan and add 4 cups water. Cook over medium-high heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 100°.
- Add cilantro, rosemary, ginger, tea bags, honey, and vinegar to saucepan, stirring to dissolve honey.
- Reduce heat to low and let mixture steep until flavorful, 10–15 minutes.
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a quart jar or large heatproof glass measuring cup, using a ladle to extract as much liquid as possible.
11. Prevention Tonic
Use this anti-inflammatory tonic when you feel a cold coming on. For best results, enjoy every day for a week while staying hydrated and getting plenty of sleep.
- 1 2″ piece peeled ginger
- 1 1″ piece peeled turmeric (optional)
- 1 sprig mint, lightly bruised
- 1 sprig tarragon, lightly bruised
- 2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp Cold & Flu Liquid Extract (optional)
- ¼ tsp elderberry liquid extract optional)
- Splash of unsweetened pure cranberry juice
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Finely grate some of ginger and turmeric.
- Using the back of a chef’s knife, crush remaining ginger and turmeric.
- Combine all the ingredients in a 1-qt. glass jar.
- Fill jar with water and add more lemon juice, if desired.
- Drink immediately or chill overnight for even more flavor.
- Keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
12. Cough Suppressant Tonic
Forget the artificial cherry cough syrup and reach for this instead. Complex and flavorful, you’ll enjoy every gulp of this cold and flu staple!
- 1 bunch oregano
- 1 bunch thyme
- 1 1” piece ginger, peeled, grated
- 1 1” piece turmeric, peeled, grated
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 small garlic clove, grated
- ¼ cup honey, preferably raw
- ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
- Lightly whack oregano and thyme with a wooden spoon to bruise and release oils.
- Heat herbs, ginger, turmeric, peppercorns, and 8 cups water in a medium saucepan until an instant-read thermometer registers around 130°—it should be uncomfortably hot to the touch (do not let it boil).
- Reduce temperature to low and let the mixture steep 6 minutes.
- Add garlic, honey, almond milk, and citrus juice, stirring to dissolve honey.
- Strain into a pitcher or large heatproof container, pushing on the herbs to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
- Divide among 4 mugs.
13. Green Machine Juice Tonic
This combination of juice and tea is perfect to boost your energy levels when you’re feeling ill and help you out of bed. It’s so good, you’ll want to drink it even when you’re healthy.
- 2 Granny Smith apples, halved, cored, finely chopped
- 1 3′-piece-English hothouse cucumber, finely chopped
- 1 cup (packed) fresh spinach
- 3/4 cup brewed green tea, room temperature
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves plus 2 sprigs mint
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Fresh lemon Juice
- Purée apples, cucumber, spinach, tea, mint leaves, and honey in a blender until very smooth.
- Strain juice through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium pitcher.
- Season to taste with lemon juice and serve.
14. Chinese vinegar Tonic
Also called “Da Suan” this tonic can be used for anything from stress to hemorrhoids to heart disease and parasites. Find out exactly how to use it here.
- One liter bottle of vinegar
- 5 heads of garlic
- Peel off the garlic skin and crack the garlic.
- In a large glass bowl, add the garlic to the vinegar, mix it up, and then pour the concoction into glass jars.
- Store the mixture in a dark place for at least two weeks. Then it is ready to use
15. Turmeric Kombucha Tonic
This recipe takes a little time and dedication, but it’s incredibly healing. Like all kombucha, it contains beneficial probiotics. Think of it as a healthy alternative to soda pop!
To Brew Kombucha:
- 1 gallon filtered water
- 5 bags of green tea
- 1 cup granulated sugar (don’t use honey or agave nectar here)
- 1 kombucha starter culture
- 1 cup starter liquid (this should either come with the starter culture or be from a previous batch)
- 1-gallon glass container
- Cheesecloth or sanitized dish towel
- Large rubber band
- Swing-top glass bottles or glass jars with tight lids to hold 1 gallon of liquid
- 1 green apple, cut into matchsticks
- 2 tsp fresh grated turmeric (or 1 teaspoon ground dried turmeric)
- 2 tsp fresh grated ginger (or 1 teaspoon ground dried ginger)
- Bring the gallon of water to a boil, turn off heat, and add the tea bags. Steep for 3 minutes and remove.
- Add the sugar and stir to combine. Let cool completely to room temperature.
- When the sweetened tea has cooled, pour it into your gallon container with the starter culture and starter liquid (don’t do this before it is cooled, you will kill your culture!). Cover with a cheesecloth or sanitized dish towel and let the jar sit in a dark corner, on a seedling mat if using.
- Depending on the temperature of your room and if you are using a seeding mat or not, your brew will ferment faster or slower. A brew fermenting at 75-80 degrees (which you can use the jar thermometer to monitor) will take about 10 days to get to a pH of 3.
- When the taste and pH of the brew are ideal (I like how mine tastes with a pH of 3), pour most of the kombucha, sparing the culture, into bottles and/or jars, leaving a few inches of head space.
- Distribute the apple matchsticks, turmeric, and ginger evenly among the bottles and/or jars. Top off with remaining kombucha, making sure to leave some head space in every bottle for the fermentation to continue.
- Leave the bottles in a dark corner at room temperature (not on the seedling mat) for 3-5 days, making sure to “burp” them daily to release any pressure that has built up. Use caution here–I have certainly sprayed my ceiling with a batch that I forgot about for a couple of days!
- When you like the taste and fizziness of your brew, place them in the refrigerator. This will slow down, but not stop the fermentation process, so consume within 2-3 weeks for most consistent flavor.
16. Coconut Ginger Tonic
This tonic will hydrate your body better than any electrolyte-filled sports drinks. Not only will you feel energized and refreshed, but the tropical flavors of this tonic are a real delight!
- 2 cups coconut water
- 2-inch knob fresh turmeric
- 1-inch fresh ginger root
- 1 lemon
- ¼ teaspoon unrefined sea salt
- 1-2 tablespoons raw honey
- Place coconut water, turmeric, and ginger root in a blender and give it a whir.
- When the turmeric/ginger is finely shredded, strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a jar.
- Add lemon juice, sea salt, and honey to taste.
- Serve, preferably with a food containing healthy fats and black pepper for enhanced absorption.
17. Ultimate Mushroom Tonic
This immune-boosting tonic fights inflammation, viruses, cancer, fatigue, and so much more (5,6,7,8)! You can also soak one of each kind of dried mushroom in 2-3 cups of water for an hour and use the liquid instead.
- 1 ½ cups homemade cashew milk
- 1 tablespoon chia seed
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
- 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon local honey
- 1-2 Medjool dates, pitted
- 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon of each organic powdered cordyceps, reishi, shiitake, chaga, maitake, and king oyster or use 1 tablespoon of a mushroom mix
- Pinch of sea salt
- Simply combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Adjust sweetness by adding additional dates
- Serve chilled over ice or serve warm by pouring into a small saucepan and gently heating until warm to touch.
18. Antibiotic Master Tonic
This bright and spicy elixir is a must if you have children in your household. If they aren’t too fond of it on its own, sneak a spoonful in their salad dressing or use it as a glaze for pork and chicken. If all else fails, give them a spoonful followed by their favorite treat.
- 1/3 cup of chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh horseradish root
- 1 tablespoon of chopped Jalapeno
- 2 tablespoons of chopped red beet
- 2 tablespoons of chopped ginger
- 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 stem of fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon each of Turmeric and Mustard Seed
- 1 slice of lemon
- Layer all of the ingredients in a mason jar and cover with several tablespoons of red wine and raw apple cider vinegar. Close the jars and shake until the ingredients are well blended and let them settle.
- Let them sit for a few weeks, then when you’re ready, strain and decant the tonic into a larger jar.
- Add several tablespoons of raw honey and stir.
- Strain the tonic into small dark glass bottles and store in the refrigerator.
- When you’re feeling rundown, take a small shot of it and prepare yourself to feel warmth all over!
Every one of these tonic drinks for health is chock-full of healing ingredients, but if you have to pick to try, go for the Fire Cider Master Tonic. It doesn’t taste that great, but you’ll feel better with every hour.