When my kids have a cold, we do some pretty unconventional things. First of all, we quarantine them until there are no signs left of the virus. I know this is pretty radical, as evidenced by all of the coughs I hear and runny noses I see everywhere we go.
And for years I have been using an odd technique to loosen congestion in my children while they are healing from a respiratory infection. It always elicits the same response in the morning.
Why is there an onion next to my bed?
There was a story floating around online for a few years about onion’s healing properties, but not for the same reasons I believe they heal. The internet story was not far off from this excerpt from a Los Angeles Times article circa 1913:
“In a sickroom you cannot have a better disinfectant than the onion. It has a wonderful capacity for absorbing germs. A dish of sliced onions placed in a sickroom will draw away the disease; they must be removed as soon as they lose their odor and become discolored, and be replaced by fresh ones.”
Whether or not that’s true, historically onions have been regarded as very healing. The Wall Street Journal noted in 2009 “The idea that onions have medicinal properties goes back millennia and spans many cultures. Egyptians thought onions were fertility symbols. Ancient Greeks rubbed them on sore muscles, and Native Americans used them to treat coughs and colds.”
Cutting up an onion usually causes us to cry- the sulphur content in the onion stimulates the eyes to create tears, and makes our noses run. This make onion a powerful healing herb and a powerful remedy for colds. Onions break up thick mucus and help clear the nasal passages.
Herbalists note that the World Health Organization recognizes onion extracts for providing relief in the treatment of coughs, colds, asthma and bronchitis.
At the first sign of congestion, I slice up an onion and place it on the nightstand next to my child’s bed.
I leave it there overnight, and they sleep better as the onion opens the sinuses and clears congestion.