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The uses of onion as medicine
The photo above is wild onion.
“Onion is stimulant, expectorant, and diuretic. A syrup of onion, prepared by drawing the juice with sugar, is a very effectual expectorant cough medicine for infants, young children, and old persons. If given in moderate quantities it is very soothing; if too freely administered it may cause nausea and disorder digestion. It, together with the onion poultice, are among the good things inherited from domestic medication, and might well be considered in preference to less safe and less depressing pulmonic medication.” - Harvey Wickes Felter, Eclectic Physician
A tincture of fresh Onion for use in chronic urinary tract infections. Despite the dubious taste, it can work quite well in UTIs where there are signs of dampness and coldness, usually not in acute, quick onset infections but in long-term or reoccurring infections accompanied by achiness, mucusy discharge and lethargy.
Raw onion poultices are also an old and effective treatment for insect stings and bites, as well as bruises, sprains, strains and so on (but not black eyes please, too much chance of getting the stuff in your eye).
usually chop the onions roughly and then smash them good and proper until juicy and either apply directly or wrapped in muslin (depending on sensitivity of skin and how long It is expected to stay on).
Onion juice directly in the ear is also an old time remedy for all sort of ear infections, As well as a tincture of garlic. Remember, don’t EVER put anything in the ear if you suspect there’s any chance of a ruptured eardrum.
Onions seem to have similar benefits for the cardiovascular system as its close relative, Garlic. There is a traditional basis for this as well as modern medical research backing it up.
Raw vs. Cooked
Research(1) indicates that the phenolic compounds in Onion (and many other aromatic plants) responsible for at least part of the antimicrobial properties of the plant are destroyed by heat. So, while I do use a cooked Onion poultice for spasmodic coughing and earaches (uses obviously having little to do with any anti-bacterial properties), Use raw Onion poultices for stings, bites and for the Onion syrup.
Dosage: Syrup dosage is about 1 tsp ever 3-4 hours for a medium sized child of about 7-11 years of age or 1 tbs every 3-4 hours for a medium sized adult with normal Onion tolerance. Less for
maller people or those with delicate digestion, more for larger people. Tincture dosage depends on specific use but about 10-30 drops for most things in an adult.
Considerations: Onion is less appropriate where there’s signs of overt heat (especially in childhood eruptive diseases) and large doses internally can cause digestive upset. Better to use small frequent doses than large, sporadic doses both for level of effectiveness and for one’s belly health.
Basic Onion Poultice
2-3 medium sized onions (this is for an entire chest or back poultice on a medium sized human), finely diced. If you choose to roast or steam your Onions rather than saute them, you may prefer to leave them whole.
1/4 C Flour or corn meal (optional, helps to more evenly distribute the poultice)
Muslin or similar cloth large enough to fold over poultice and cover chest or upper back
Hot water bottle
Medium sized towel
You can either steam, roast or sauté your onions, depending on your preference. sautéing them in some olive or coconut oil
Cook until tender and somewhat transparent (we’re not going for caramelized here).
Stir in flour or corn meal until a gooey paste is achieved.
Spread onto muslin and fold over to hold poultice and heat in.
Place on chest, upper back or wherever needed.
Use as hot as can be tolerated, but not hot enough to cause pain.
Cover with hot water bottle. Again, as hot as is not painful.
Cover area with towel.
Let sit for 15-30 minutes before removing.
When using because of coughs or congestion, it’s great to follow this with a thorough application of some kind of chest rub. like a salve made with a blend of Pine, Fir and Cottonwood infused oils.
Simple Onion Syrup
1 Cup roughly chopped fresh onion
Small handful of fresh or dried Sage or Thyme
Juice of half a lemon (Optional)
1 tsp freshly grated Ginger root (Optional)
Enough honey to cover herbs
Just place the onion and other herbs in a jar, cover with honey, stir to remove air bubbles and cover. Let sit overnight. The honey will very effectively suck all the juice out of the Onion. Use by the teaspoonful beginning the next morning. Some people like to eat the onion bits with the honey and some people prefer to strain the solids out. It’s up to you.