Epizootie and Fire Tonic
We weren't allowed to go barefoot before May 1. She always said that we'd get the epizootie. We couldn't roll down hills or our liver would turn over and we'd get the epizootie. If we played with the chickens too much, if we went out in the snow without our toboggan on, and we weren't allowed to play with the sickly kids across the creek or we would certainly get the epizootie. We had no idea what it was.....but we were afraid, and we knew we didn't want it.
What we did know was that when we began to get that old tickle in our throats, or if our sinuses began to act up, or if we were just feeling a might puny, Mamaw would go up into her herbal cabinet and pull down the big ole brown bottle, uncork it and make us take a whoppin sip of this old mountain elixer.
.........and it worked.
When I was older, I'd sit and watch her make this concoction and (if anyone knows me) ask my 100 questions. I learned that it must be made on a full moon (the moon affects many things around here, especially when working with tinctures and the sort) and that once made, you shouldn't mess with it too awful much. Mamaw left this world many years ago, but she left me with not only a passion for the herbal arts but a priceless book that she kept of all of her recipes.
Through the years, I have studied her recipes, not having the faith that she did that something would simply work, but I wanted to know why and how. I come to realize that this old tonic of hers had a lot of merit to it. All of the ingredients are anti-inflammatory and have shown to help improve circulation within the body. The vinegar breaks down into the body as alkaline, and to be honest, the heat that each of the ingredients packs, its no wonder it seems to knock out a cold.
The flavor is.......unique, but has gained in popularity. We have folks who drink two shots per day. We have those who sip a thimble full. There are those who use it as a marinade or as a salad dressing, and there are those few who go through 16 ounces per week. ( I have no idea what they are doing.)
Mamaw knew her herbs. She knew her mountain medicine. She knew the people she helped. She had faith in what she did. She believed in the magic of these hills and the plants that she worked with. She believed in the epizootie.......and that terrifies me.