If vegetables could be superheroes, onions would definitely be at the top of the list. This root not only packs some powerful flavors, but it also has a host of impressive health benefits. Onions are also endlessly versatile, and the fact that most of us already have a few on hand at all times makes them an ideal home remedy you can whip up when a cold or flu is coming on.
The Powerful Health Benefits of Onions
Onions are in the allium family (along with garlic). The word allium literally means “I smell,” and we all know onions are certainly known for their pungent scent.
Onions contain high levels of vitamin C, folate, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. They are also high in the antioxidant quercetin.
Quercetin has been shown to protect against many different types of cancer in the body, boosts immune response, and is even used to help with cataracts. The quercetin in onions has also been studied for its ability to improve heart health, prevent heart disease, and keep blood flowing freely throughout the body when used daily.
Interesting Facts about Onions
- Sulfuric compounds in onions have been shown to kill even salmonella and E. coli. These compounds also help prevent cancer and heart disease.
- Have you ever tried placing bowls of onions around the room so they would absorb any germs floating around?
- Onions help prevent osteoporosis by building bone and mineral density.
- Chewing on raw onion will relieve a toothache, kill germs, and help prevent tooth and gum disorders.
- Onions are full of fructooligosaccharides that encourage beneficial bacteria, yet target harmful bacteria in the gut.
- Onions can lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin levels.
My Favorite Onion Home Remedies
1. Onion Poultice to Relieve Congestion and Coughing
Onions work like an expectorant as they help break up mucus and congestion in the chest and reduce spasmodic coughs.
Onions work best for a chest poultice if they’re heated first. To break up chest congestion and soothe a spastic cough, you can apply a poultice externally.
How to make an onion poultice:
- Slice or dice an onion, add 1 tablespoon of water, and cook until the water evaporates (you can bake in the oven at 200 degrees, or simmer in a skillet on low).
- Allow the onion to cool to a comfortable temperature, then wrap the onion in a small towel, like a tea towel. Gather the ends of the towel together and secure with a rubber band.
- Place the poultice on the chest or back and leave it for 30 minutes, repeating the process every 3 hours or until the symptoms are gone.
- I also like to place the onion directly on the chest (make sure it isn't too hot) and wrap the chest with plastic wrap and keep it on overnight or while sleeping.
An onion poultice is smelly for sure. To help with this I sometimes apply the poultice to the feet, wrap them in cloth or plastic, and cover with socks.
Just the process of chopping an onion (you know the moment when you start crying?) has the ability to break up mucous, and start clearing out the infections, so embrace those tears next time you chop an onion!
If you are low on time, chop a fresh onion and add it to 1/2 a cup of olive oil. Place this mixture on the bottom of the feet with socks on for an easy remedy for healing congestion, colds or a flu.
2. “Fire Cider” Immunity Booster
Fire cider is an age-old remedy made from onions, horseradish, garlic, cayenne pepper, and other aromatic plants steeped in apple cider vinegar. Onions are used in this recipe because of their potent antiviral and antibacterial compounds and their ability to support the immune system.
3. Onion Honey Syrup
An onion syrup is a delicious and easy way to take your herbs. Take onion honey syrup for any cold or flu, especially if a cough or congestion is present. You can also take a spoonful every day during the winter months to help keep sickness away.
To make an onion honey syrup:
- Thinly slice or chop an onion and add it to a jar that you can seal. Pour honey over the onion, just until covered. You should only need about ½ cup, maybe less. Allow the mixture to sit on the counter for 2 weeks or more as needed. You can also add some garlic to pack a punch!
- Take a spoonful of the onion honey every 3-4 hours, or until symptoms subside. To use as a preventative measure, take a spoonful or two every day during flu season.
4. Onions for Ear Infections
You may have heard me recommend using garlic oil for ear infections before, but onion can be used in much the same way. A roasted or baked onion half can be cooled to a comfortable warmth and placed on the ear. This helps to relieve painful inflammation and fight the bacterial or viral infection in the ear. You can also squeeze the juice from the onion and place a few drops in the ear.
Be sure that the onion mixture is very well strained, since you don’t want any onion pieces in the ear. And never put anything in the ear if you suspect that there’s a possibility of a ruptured ear drum!
It’s always best to treat both ears even if your child only complains of pain in one, since the infection frequently spreads to both ears eventually.
5. Onions for Sore Muscles, Sprains, and Strains
Onions are rubefacient, meaning they draw blood to the surface of the skin and increase circulation. The ancient Greeks rubbed onions on sore muscles to stimulate and warm them. Onions also reduce inflammation, making them perfect for bruises, strains, sprains, and even rheumatism. Just apply an onion poultice (blended onion and olive oil) to the affected area.
6. Onions to Draw Out Infection
Onions have been used for centuries to remove infection from damaged skin. Their properties will draw out pus from boils, bee stings, and the poison from an insect bite or bee sting. You can apply a fresh onion slice or onion poultice to the affected area.
Fresh onions can also draw out infections seen in acne, boils or other skin infections. You can add an onion poultice to the skin, just make sure not to leave it on too long as it can burn the skin.
You can also rub a fresh onion on your skin to brighten your face, clear out your sinuses, or reduce puffiness.
Onions pack such a powerful punch that you want to use an onion fresh or frozen. Don't cut an onion in half and use the other half a day or two later. An onion has the ability to even attract toxins in your fridge! So, if you are not using the full onion, chop up the rest and put it in your fridge, or compost the remainder.
Have I given you a greater appreciation for onions?
Grab your onions and let's get healing!