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Onion: a kitchen medicine herb

Onions are a culinary herb I always strive to have fresh in my house not only for cooking but for medicinal purposes. I have used onions to help draw/pull things out of the body whether congestion or infection related.

Respiratory Infections

When we have congestion in our respiratory system, onions are a great resource to use to help draw the congestion out. I have successfully used sliced onions, baked in an oven until slimy, to make an onion poultice to then lay across the chest. Once the onions are slimy, I place them in a cotton tea towel, put olive oil on the chest, then place the warm onion poultice on the chest covered with a hot water bottle and towel. I let the onions work on drawing the congestion out.

Sinus and Ear Infections

When we have congestion in our sinuses, onions can help break it up. I have had my young children sit next to me with a box of tissues while I chop up onions. I tell them to blow as the tears and nose begin to run. I also place a shallow bowl with sliced onions next to them, especially when they go to bed. The onions do a great job drawing the congestion out. When there is an ear infection along with the congestion, I have placed some sliced onions on the ear to help with the pain. It has worked wonders for myself and my family.


My good friend’s daughter got a staph infection in her leg. She didn’t have access to plantain, but she did have access to onions. She sliced up onions, baked some in the oven until slimy along with using fresh sliced onions. She slathered the infected area with olive oil, then placed the onions on it and covered it with cotton gauze to hold the onions in place. After multiple days of changing the poultices regularly and having her daughter take copious amounts of garlic, they got the infection under control. My friend’s husband ended up taking her to the hospital to verify the wound was okay. After running tests and verifying there was no longer an active infection happening, the doctor prescribed manuka honey to help the wound continue to heal.


Onions are a great source for Vitamins A, B6, C, and Folate. They are also rich in the following minerals: calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, and zinc.

I make an Onion-Honey syrup annually and have my kids enjoy it when a tickle in their throat starts or a cold is beginning. To make just dice up an onion. Place it in a glass jar (do not use aluminum). Cover the onion with raw honey. The longer it sits, the more onion properties are extracted into the honey. I keep mine in the cupboard, but friends keep theirs in the fridge. Enjoy a spoonful whenever the need or desire arises.

Additional Onion Information:

  • Onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks are all in the same family which means they all have similar medicinal activity.

  • Research shows that onions retain their medicinal action whether they are cooked or not, but sometimes the raw onions work faster.

  • Onions are antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal.

  • Onions are also high in quercetin, which slows inflammatory reactions, because of this they can help with allergies.

  • Other health issues onions can help with: athlete’s foot, removing calluses, and getting rid of warts.

  • Onion soup is said to be good for preventative medicine and for weight loss, if eaten every night.

  • Caution: Be careful to not overeat onions (over 2 pounds a day), as anemia can be induced.

Onions are a great herb to use to add flavor to foods, but they are a greater herb to use medicinally. I always make sure we have fresh onions at home and I hope others will see their additional value as well.

written by Beth Davis

Master Herbalist and Footzonology Practitioner

She loves empowering others to take control of their health by

teaching numerous classes on topics ranging from

Kitchen Medicine to Immune System Health.

Currently, her family is traveling around America exploring its many wonders.

If you would like to have her teach a class or two in your area, you can find her at

on Instagram @BethoftheWest or

email her at

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