Despite the tears, and the smell, onions may be one of the world’s most underrated superfoods. Much more than a kitchen staple, this most widely cultivated species of the genus Allium offers incredible health benefits – so much so that perhaps the saying “an onion a day” would be a better prescription than that well-known phrase, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Onions are loaded with powerful compounds that are known to do everything from help fight illness to properties that can give you a glowing complexion. They’re an extraordinarily rich source of sulphur compounds – in fact, that’s the the reason behind those teary eyes when slicing an onion. They also contain lots of flavonoids like quercetin, which helps to protect the body from cell damage.
These particular remedies for using onions may sound strange at the outset, but they’re surprisingly well worth trying!
1. Hang an onion to cure a cold
That famously strong onion odor is powerful enough to cut through congestion. All you need is a white onion – preferably an onion that comes in a netted bag, as you can use it as the bag to hang the onion. Cut the onion in half, but don’t peel it, and hang it somewhere in your bedroom, as close to your bed as you can. The odor will permeate the room, and get into your nose and throat.
The reason you shouldn’t peel the onion is that the most potent flavonoids are said to be in the outer layers of the vegetable. When you wake up in the morning, you might be surprised to find how much clearer your nasal passages are. In lab studies, quercetin, that powerful antioxidant we discussed earlier, was discovered to prevent the release of histamines, which are the chemicals that cause allergic reactions. That’s one of the primary reasons it makes the onion a fantastic natural antihistamine.
2. Stop a bloody nose
Be sure to have an onion around if you, or someone in your family, tends to get nosebleeds. When it happens, as quickly as you can after it starts, slice an onion and hold it just underneath your nose. The fumes from the onion act as a natural coagulant to stop the bleeding.
3. Fall asleep faster
Believe it or not, onions are so amazing, they can even help cure insomnia. This is definitely a strange one, but it definitely works. Simply cut into a raw onion and take five to ten deep breaths of its aroma just before going to bed at night. For optimal results, place it into a glass jar or a Ziploc-type bag, and put it beside your bed , breathing in the aroma just before you want to drift off to sleep.
4. Repel mosquitoes
Getting outdoors is a great thing for both your mental and physical health, but pesky mosquitoes can quickly ruin a good time. They leave itchy, annoying welts, and worst of all, they are well-known for their potential to transmit disease.
While you could buy a chemical, DEET-based repellent product at the store, those come with a host of chemicals that may do more harm than good. DEET, in particular, is absorbed through the skin and enters the bloodstream fairly quickly, and just some of its potentially dangerous side effects include a risk of damage to the brain and other organs, though the most common one is skin irritation.
Instead of subjecting yourself to that, use an onion. There are a couple of different options. You can slice one up and toss it into a bowl of water, placing it on a table or other object near you to keep the insects away, or you can rub an onion directly over your skin.
5. Eliminate age spots on the skin
Onions can also be effective for eliminating those dark spots on your skin. Often referred to as “age spots,” onions help thanks to their sulfur compounds which act as an antiseptic, along with the acids in the onion which work to exfoliate the skin. Simply slice up a red (preferably) onion and rub it directly onto those darker areas of your complexion after cleansing. Allow the juice to sit for about 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing well. Repeat one or two times each day. When used regularly, you’ll notice those spots begin to fade.
6. Remove splinters
If you work with wood a lot, you know how painful a job that can be, as you’re bound to get splinters. Getting them out can be extremely painful, and because they’re often so tiny, they can be impossible to remove with your bare hand. But the onion can come to the rescue once again, as they’re bizarrely effective for removing those splinters that won’t budge.
All you need for this unusual remedy is an onion and some tape. Cut the onion in half, and place one of the halves over the area where the splinter is embedded in the skin. Use the tape to secure the onion half tightly over the area. Allow it to sit for about one hour before removing – and, voila! The splinter is gone, just like magic.
7. Relieve a sore throat
Onion tea is something that’s been used for decades, if not centuries, for soothing a sore throat. It’s made not in the way that you probably think, like boiling onions in water and then drinking the liquid.
To make onion tea, you’ll actually use the skin of the onion. Simply boil a cup of water with the skin of about a half of an onion. Boil long enough so that the water takes on the color of the onion skin. Remove the liquid, straining the onion peel, and allow it to cool just enough to make it drinkable. Now sip the tea and you can say goodbye to that sore throat in as quickly as an hour.
8. Soothe menstrual cramps
Onions can even help soothe the pain of menstrual cramps, and prevent irregular bleeding. Keep track of when your next period starts, and then start consuming raw onions (preferably red onions) about four to five days beforehand.
9. Fix burned rice
While this remedy doesn’t do much when it comes to your health, perhaps it can save your sanity a bit when you’ve burned a batch of rice. Even when rice is just slightly burned, it tastes awful, leading most to have to toss it out and start all over again. But an onion can prevent you from wasting all of that time, and good rice. Just cut one in half, and place one of the halves on top of the rice, allowing the cut side to touch it. In only a few minutes, that burned flavor will be completely gone. That’s because the onion is able to absorb the burned taste.
10. Enjoy better sex
An active sex life is great for your health, and if you want to enjoy better sex, an onion is a surprising way to do just that. In fact, they’re considered one of the greatest of aphrodisiac foods, helping to increase the libido and even improve the health of reproductive organs. Allicin is the compound responsible for its effect as it increases blood flow to the sexual organs, resulting in increased sexual drive.
11. Reduce the pain of a bee sting
Getting stung by a bee can be rather painful. While applying ice to the sting and taking a painkiller can help, that usually takes longer than the positive effects you’ll receive by applying an onion. Simply apply the juice of a fresh-cut onion to the affected area, and the pain will begin to dissipate almost immediately.
12. Detox by putting onions in your socks and wearing them overnight
Okay, we know this is a really weird one, and your partner may not be happy with you for using it, but it’s definitely worth trying. In fact, the practice of putting onions on people’s feet dates all the way back to Chinese medicine. The Chinese discovered that there are thousands of nerve endings on the bottom of the feet.
Those nerve endings act like access points to internal organs and are closely linked with our nervous systems. When a cut onion is placed on the underside of the foot, it fights off germs and bacteria because of their potent antibacterial and antiviral properties. These compounds enter the bloodstream and help to purify the blood, making you healthier and strengthening your immune system so that your body can fight off infections and inflammation.
To use this remedy, take an onion, red or white, and cut it into flat slices so that they can be easily applied to the bottom of your feet. Pull on a pair of socks over the onions to keep them in place overnight. When you wake up, remove your socks and toss out the onions.
13. Boost your mood
Onions can even put you in a better mood and improve your mental health. That’s because, when they’re mixed with the already existing proteins in the system, their sulfur components works to stimulate the production of amino acids in the brain. This process helps to ensure the proper functioning of the nervous system so that incidences and symptoms of stress, depression and other mental problems are ultimately minimized.