Do You Know Nutrition: Onions make potent cough syrup

By Phylis Canion
Jan. 22, 2013 at midnight
Updated Jan. 21, 2013 at 7:22 p.m.

Phylis Canion

Phylis Canion

I am taking medication and was wondering if you know of an effective cough syrup to take that will not interfere. So many cough medicines and syrups have warnings on them, so any suggestions would be most appreciated. Also, I need something that would be safe for my children.

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

Place another layer of chopped onion and sugar and continue until the jar is full. Shake the jar really well to be sure the sugar is spread throughout. 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, simply 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, put it on the bottom of each foot, cover it with a sock at bedtime and remove it upon waking. 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 sick room would draw away the disease. The onions must be removed as soon as they lose their odor and become discolored and be replaced by fresh ones."

Documentation states that when the flu killed 40 million people in an outbreak in 1919, those who survived had placed unpeeled onions in a dish in each room in the house. The onion is the richest dietary source of quercetin, a potent antioxidant flavonoid and is a good source of vitamin C, B6, B1, biotin, chromium, calcium and dietary fiber as well as folic acid.

Thought for the week: "We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons." - Alfred E. Newman

A free nutrition class will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at the TrustTexas Bank in Cuero community room in Cuero. Call 361-243-6373 to book your seat.

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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