Do You Know Nutrition: Try onions to keep cough, colds at bay

By Phylis Canion
Dec. 3, 2013 at 6:03 a.m.

Phylis Canion

Phylis Canion

You had an article about the benefits of onion and a recipe for a cough syrup made with onions. Is there any chance you can do another column on the benefits of onions and how they can help with a cold and flu? I would really appreciate it.

I have received hundreds of emails and calls recently requesting the onion cough syrup, so here it is.

The most effective cough syrup is one you can make yourself and takes no more than 10 minutes. Take a medium-sized onion, cut it up into small pieces and put a small layer in a pint jar and cover it with sugar or xylitol.

Continue with another layer of chopped onion and sugar until the jar is full. Shake the jar really well to be sure the sugar and onions are thoroughly mixed. Set the jar on your cabinet, and within two hours, you will see the syrup forming.

The sugar draws all of the moisture out of the onion including all of the beneficial anti-inflammatory and congestion-relieving properties. After a 24-hour period, remove all of the onion pieces from the syrup and take a tablespoon as needed. The World Health Organization has recognized the onion for its ability to help relieve symptoms of the flu such as coughs, congestion, respiratory infections and bronchitis.

Some traditions recommend placing sliced onions beside the bed at night or even around the house to prevent yourself from getting the flu that may be brought in. If you are suffering from the flu, you may even consider taking a slice of onion, putting it on the bottom of each foot and covering it with a sock at bedtime.

The theory is that the raw onion will absorb the toxins from your system as you sleep. As far back as the early 1900s, an article in the Los Angeles Times stated that "a dish of sliced onions placed in a sickroom would draw away the disease."

The onions must be discarded as soon as they lose their odor and become discolored and be replaced with fresh ones. Documentation states that when the flu killed 40 million people in an outbreak in 1919, those that survived had placed unpeeled onions in a dish in each room in the house. Because of space limitation, I will run another column on the other health benefits of onions.

Thought for the week: What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Next free nutrition class is 7 p.m. Monday at the Organic Emporium, 2918 N. Laurent St.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant; email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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