What You Didn’t Know About Onions

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Onions are best known for two things: bad breath and tears. Right? Wrong. They are a plant and the bulb (rounded, underground part) of the onion is used to make medicine, not the green, upper stems, which are great to eat raw, along with the bulb, or to cook.  Raw onions not only provide an excellent addition to our meals but provide therapeutic and antibacterial properties that cleanse, detox and help our bodies eliminate disease.

So, you ask what kind of medicine or healing do onions provide?

Photo: Flickr/Andy Farmer

Onions contain more than 100 sulfur-containing compounds which give them their recognizable smell and are what causes the eyes to burn and water. As powerful healing agents, they can help prevent and treat numerous ailments.

Onions are used for treating digestion problems, including upset stomach, gallbladder disorders, heart and blood vessel problems including angina, high blood pressure, and aid in the prevention of hardening of the arteries.  They are also used for treating sore mouth and throat, whooping cough, bronchitis, asthma, intestinal gas, and parasitic worms. Raw onion can be applied directly to the skin for insect bites, minor wounds, light burns, boils, and warts.

Photo: Flickr/Rebecca Peplinski


Onions have antihistamine effects due to quercetin, an antioxidant that acts like an antihistamine and an anti-inflammatory agent. In test tubes, quercetin has proven to prevent immune cells from releasing histamine, which are chemicals that cause allergic reactions and can be a promising asthma treatment.


Onions can help reduce cancer risk when combined with turmeric. A 2006 study published in “Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology” found that these two cooking ingredients create a synergistic effect that reduces both the size and number of precancerous cells and are released when the onion is chopped or chewed


A high intake of onions could mean a lower level of glucose. The essential oil, allyl propyl disulphide, is found to be effective in lowering blood sugar levels by increasing the amount of free insulin that is available.

Heart Disease

When we think of heart-healthy food, onions don’t normally come to mind. However, quercetin is found to significantly reduce high blood pressure in hypertensive adults. Moreover, this vegetable is considered to exceed the heart-protective properties of red wine, inhibit hardening of the arteries, and help keep the arteries elastic.

Gum Disease

Raw onions may make our breath stink, but they can actually improve oral health. Two to three minutes a day of chewing on one can kill most germs in the mouth.

Many studies have been done that verify the immense health benefits of onions. So, to help you stay healthy and prevent the onset of some of these diseases, why not eat a small onion a day to help keep the doctor away.  But, as always, if you have allergies or take specific medicines always inform your doctor and work with them to maintain your good health.