Onions have been used as food since ancient times. They are documented to have been eaten in Egypt around 3,000 BC. They have antimicrobial properties that are effective against salmonella and E. coli. They are anti-allergenic due to the quercetin content, which is especially potent because of being absorbed quickly into the lining of the intestine. It also remains longer in the body than the quercetin from other foods. Onions are also helpful in relieving pain due to arthritis, the allergic inflammatory response of asthma and the respiratory congestion connected with the common cold. Onions are used to treat coughs, colds and flu. Just like garlic, onions help to prevent heart attacks and to alleviate angina.

Common Name of the Herb: Onion

Latin Name: Allium cepa

Parts Used: Bulb of the mature plant

Actions: Anti-microbial, anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, and cardiac.

Preparation and Use: Onions may be chopped, diced, or added whole to food in cooking. It may also be used in teas. It may be blended into raw apple cider vinegar along with horseradish, garlic, cayenne pepper and ginger to make immune tonic. And my grandfather used to eat onions raw, with honey.

Cautions and Limitations of Use:

  • Onions can make you sweat a lot, thus dehydrating the body. If you are eating a large quantity, remember to drink liquids.
  • Caution for all herbs and foods: Stop using if you experience symptoms of allergy.  Seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives. People who are allergic to other foods in the lily family such as garlic, shallot, leek, chives, and asparagus may be allergic to onion.
  • Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking prescription medications, regarding possible interactions. If in doubt about the safety of any herb, consult a doctor with special knowledge and experience with herbs.

Extra Information:

  • Constituents: Volatile oil with sulfurous constituents, allicin, quercetin, flavonoids, acids, phenolic, acids and sterols.
  • Growing the Herb: Onions may be planted from seed or from partly grown onion bulbs. If sowing in rows, the rows should be spaced about 30cm apart. The soil must be moist before sowing. If planting sets or partly grown bulbs, plant them around mid to late March.
  • How to Gather: Onions are ready to be harvested a week after their tops start to turn yellow.
  • Other English Common Names: Garden onion, common onion
  • Where it Grows: Onions are some of the most popular vegetables grown in home gardens. They can be found anywhere in the world.
  • How to Identify: Onions have prominent bulbs with hollow, tubular leaves.