The Powerful Healing Properties of Onions
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Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2009
by Cynthia McMurray
Recently, my son came down with a nasty fever and cough. I tried my usual arsenal of herbal remedies and supplements, some of which undoubtedly helped in the interim, but ultimately, if I backed off, the cough returned with a vengeance. Frustrated, and admittedly a little scared by the possibility of H1N1 (something I think is in the back of all our minds now), I resorted to more traditional remedies. Again, these helped some but did little to relieve the actual cause, and the fever and cough continued. Then, during a conversation with my sister, I relayed my frustrations with the fact the school year had hardly begun and the casualties were already mounting to which she simply replied, "onions". Not quite sure I heard her or that she was even listening to my obvious diatribe about how being back at school also meant the inevitable sharing of every germ, virus and bacteria, known to man, I responded in kind "onions?"
Onions are a member of the allium family, the same as garlic, leeks, shallots and scallions. These smelly, but powerful veggies contain literally dozens of chemical compounds (25 to be exact) that have been used for centuries for their amazing healing properties. The Chinese, East Indians, Ancient Greeks, Romans and even Egyptians revered the onion, believing it to help with infections, digestion as well as issues with the eyes and joints among other things. Today, we know the plant has potent diuretic, antibiotic and even anti-inflammatory properties. Studies also show it to be an effective expectorant, which makes it very useful in cases of infections like colds, flu and persistent coughs.
Onions and others in the allium family are high in flavonoids, powerful antioxidants known to prevent disease by attacking harmful free radicals within the body. In particular, onion is very rich in the flavonoid quercetin, a compound shown in studies to help prevent heart disease by not only preventing cholesterol from attaching to arterial walls, but also by preventing blood platelets from sticking together and forming clots. In fact, one 2006 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition , shows people who consume the most quercetin-containing foods (onion soup in this study) have a reduced risk of thrombosis and cardiovascular disease. Quercetin is also shown to stop the progression of tumors, one reason this compound is often used for cancer prevention. Researchers at the University of Utah have further found that quercetin may in fact help to reduce blood pressure.
Onions are also an effective and natural way to raise good (HDL) cholesterol according to the American Heart Association. Researchers at Massachusetts' Tufts University have shown eating yellow or white onions can actually raise HDL cholesterol by as much as 30 percent over time.
Onions contain sulfur compounds that are not only responsible for its pungent smell but also the reason your eyes water when you cut them. Onion and other allium vegetables are rich in thiosulfinates, sulfides, sulfoxides and other odoriferous sulfur compounds. While cysteine sulfoxides primarily give onion its distinct flavor and eye-irritating properties, research shows thiosulfinates have powerful antimicrobial properties that are effective against numerous bacteria including bacillus subtilis, salmonella and even E. coli. All these organosulfur compounds are also proving to be a significant factor in both cancer and cardiovascular prevention. Interestingly, in central Georgia where the popular Vidalia onions are grown, statistics show the death rate from stomach cancer is almost 50 percent lower than in the rest of the United States. As well, sulfur in onions is shown to help in cases of asthma by inhibiting the allergic, inflammatory response typical in acute attacks.
Onions are also very rich in fructo-oligosaccharides, compounds shown to stimulate the growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon, which may account in part for onion's role in colon cancer prevention.
Unfortunately, the beneficial effects from onions are mostly lost when cooked according to some studies, so you should try to eat onion raw whenever possible. Some researchers suggest the best way to get the maximum benefit from onions is to juice them and then mix the juice with honey, taking two-to three teaspoons daily for about three weeks when fighting a virus. According to research, the Western Yellow, New York Bold and Northern Red onion contains the highest concentration of flavonoids and antioxidant value of the 10 onions tested (the milder tasting Western White and Vidalia onions having the lowest antioxidant content). So, when buying onions a good rule of thumb, according to this study, is essentially the smellier and stronger the onion variety the better.
Other medicinal uses for onion :
- A compress applied to the skin for acne, arthritis and congestion
- A natural wormer (although studies show onions are toxic to dogs and cats so never feed them onions)
- A natural diuretic
- Intestinal disorders. O nions stimulate peristalsis (contraction and expansion) of the intestines and help remove intestinal putrefaction and excess gas.
- Toothache and prevention of dental decay
- Stimulating hair growth
My sister's simple yet highly effective cough syrup recipe:
Choose one of the more potent onion varieties. Slice 2-3 medium size onions. Place one layer of onion in a glass bowl and cover with brown sugar. Layer with more onion and then cover again with brown sugar. Continue until all onion is layered. For a more powerful remedy, add approximately 3 tbsp of Manuka honey to the mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and place on the kitchen counter for 24 hours, stirring occasionally to ensure all onion is covered. After 24 hours, drain the juice from the mixture and place in a glass jar. Take 2 tablespoons as necessary for cough and respiratory congestion. Refrigerate and keep for up to seven days.
Cynthia McMurray is a professional natural health writer. She has written numerous books for leading health professionals and was the founder and publisher of a national natural health magazine. She is currently writing in-depth health manuals for a large international health and wellness company. She is also the founder and publisher of Bryler Publications www.brylerpublications.com.
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» left by Christina from Indiana 2 years 316 days ago.
I've had a nasty cold the past couple of days and nothing was helping. My boyfriend told me about this guy and how he tested the healing properties of the onion. How he cut the ends off an onion and placed it by his bedside while he was severely sick one night, and the next morning he was healthy again and the onion was black. I was skeptical but thought, what the heck. Cut the ends off a white onion and placed it on my bedside table. This morning I woke up, my hoarse voice? GONE. My hacking, spetum-producing cough? GONE! My stuffed up nose? Sorta gone, it's still a little stuffed up but not nearly as bad as it was. And my ears are still a little clogged. But I am 100% convinced. I will have to try the onion syrup next time I'm sick!
» left by Aveneerol from Bahamas 2 years 243 days ago.
Need to know if you are allergic to sulfur if this remedy can still be taken? Please hurry with the answer. I was about to embark on a course of prescribed medication and would really prefer a more natural cure to my post nasal drips and chest congestion.Hi so sorry for not responding earlier. I was teaching at a writer's retreat all weekend. Ironically, my son was sick again and I used this remedy and it was as usual, amazing. As for allergies to sulfur, I would suggest you speak with a naturopath or you doctor before doing this. I would surmise however, if you can eat onions or garlic and have never had an issue, then this remedy would not cause you problems, but again, I would speak to someone first. You could however try a mustard plaster. I used this with my son as well this past weekend and it cleared up his cough within about 20 minutes. Just do a Google search for mustard plaster and you will find recipes. I hope you get better soon. All the best, Cynthia
» left by JJ from DC 2 years 225 days ago.
This article was very helpful and informative. Since childhood, my mother, who is Native American, also used onions to heal my siblings and I of fevers, coughs and just about everything else. Now as an adult, with respiratory problems, I have started using onions and have already seen an improvement in how I feel. JJ
» left by cherri hairson from va 2 years 128 days ago.
This has to be true as my husband had a transplant 10 years ago and he loves onions.We also keep a bag of onions in a vented basket in the kitchen.Its like plastic wire.The anti rejection medication he is on keeps him severly immunocompromised and easy to get an infection.I am not the greatest housekeeper and he has not gotten any infections since his transplant.I give the credit to the onions.If this is not proof I don't know what is....I never get an infection either.
» left by Trish from hampshire 2 years 47 days ago.
Yes it was, I have only just discovered the healing benefits of onions. Whilst removing a hot pan from th oven I burnt the tips of all my fingers on my right hand and was in agony all afternoon but later had to chop an onion and was surprised that the pain disappeared almost imediately I am now a firm beleiver
» left by pete from east yorks 1 year 164 days ago.
i have an onion in every room to absorb the nasty viruses that inevitably float around and both meself and my wife have not had a cold or similar for as long as we can remember ... its a shame all our grown up kids sit in their home sniffling and telling us its a load of buncum...
» left by louise from staffs 1 year 127 days ago.
I am 47 and never before had a problem but developed a rash on my foot.. my dr diagnosed as psorioris, i had thought it was athletes foot, after lots of creams and steroids, it had not improved much, an aunty told me of onions and since a night of wanting cut my foot off , I tried stuffing my sock with onions WoW relief and the rash improving and relief for ich.. louise.
» left by Renee from Tennessee 1 year 32 days ago.
My father always makes an onion sandwhich when he thinks a cold is coming on. He butters toast and puts whole slices of raw onion and a little pepper. As a child I thought it was completely gross but now I understand.
» left by mike from nigeria 284 days 6 hours ago.
In which way i can use onions for high blood pressure?
» left by George Kakomo from Kampala 88 days 11 hours ago.
I have in the past taken raw red onion for remedies to acute attacks of (gastric and duodenal) ulcers, but now advised by a friend that I need to be consistent with its usage.
Recently, I felt a toothache, severe irritation in the undergarment, pain in the joints, a nasal blockage and fatigue. I suspected that I had a bacterial infection and planned to visit the physician the following day. Before the planned visit, I happened to prepare for my supper a sliced one and half raw red onion with roast chicked, only becuase my wife had not been able to cook. The next day I was preoccupied but also feeling too well to remember that I had to see a physician. I have also known red onion to be a remedy for convulsions in todlers - caused by celebtal malaria attacks lacally known as (Eyaabwe). Mothers chop it, pound it, add some water and give it for instant gain of consious.