Healing Power of Onions: Can Onions absorb Bacteria, Viruses and Flu?

The Almighty Onion…is she more powerful than we previously thought? This is an interesting topic that I discovered online several times in various forms, all relating to the theory that if you put an onion in the room of a person who is sick, the onion will ‘absorb’ the illness, and sometimes in just a few hours, the person is better. It seemed unbelievable, but I thought to myself, “Remember that one Jennifer, and if you ever need it, you have nothing to lose by giving the onion theory a try.”

All information in this article is for educational purposes only. 
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition. 

Cut an onion in half to absorb bad smells & even ‘pull’ viruses/sickness from the air

A few points to note on Onion Healing:

This is not a new idea. Onions were used by certain individuals in Europe to successfully fight off the plague in the early 1900’s. Ayurvedic medicine has been using an onion poultice for the chest or feet to cure coughs, fevers and flus for centuries. They also use the onion poultice to reduce pain and inflammation in the joints. Homeopathic doctors also use the healing power of onions to heal from viruses and illness. I even know people in the North American Hutterite community, a pacifist community similar to the Amish whose traditions date back to the 16th century, who tell me it is common practice to place onions in their homes during winter flu season and to use cut onions in the room of an ill person to relieve their symptoms quickly and naturally.

It is said that white onions work better than red onions. Yellow onions would be an acceptable alternative, but white onions, with the latin name Allium Cepa, work best.

The onions need to be peeled if left around the home as a preventive measure against flu and viruses. Many people do this during flu season and find that no one gets sick, whereas in previous years with no onions, they had several members of the family fall ill. If placed around the home for prevention, the onions should be replaced every 3 months.

If someone falls ill with a cough, flu, cold or fever, immediately place a peeled white onion cut in half in a bowl in their room. The onion needs to be cut in half in order to expose the most amount of ‘healing power’ from its pungent odor.

Cut onions can also be used to eliminate mold smells in a closet, drawer or room.

It’s best not to leave a cut onion open in the fridge (to eat later) because as soon as an onion is cut, it will start to absorb bacteria, etc. So, if you cut an onion for a salad, either use the whole thing or put the other half in your garage or basement to absorb bad smells! Once the onion is in a salad in a sealed container, it is safe and can be eaten at a later time.

Perhaps the most interesting onion remedy is the Sock Onion. This is a ‘modern-day’ version of the Ayurvedic poultice, and involves cutting the white onion in half and placing one half on the bottom of each foot so that the cut onion is against the skin. Place a sock on top of the onion so it stays secure in place and leave the ‘Onion Sock’ on overnight. This is especially good for flus and fevers. One of my twitter followers recently shared her success with the Sock Onion:

The Mighty Healing Power of Onions!

Health Benefits of Onions

Onions are rich in sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for their strong odor. Sulfur is a powerful detox element and helps the body to release toxins, especially for the liver. Foods naturally high in sulfur also help the body to detox from heavy metals like lead, arsenic and cadmium.

The onion is the richest dietary source of quercitin, a powerful antioxidant flavonoid that has been shown to thin the blood, lower cholesterol, ward off blood clots, and fight asthma, chronic bronchitis, hay fever, diabetes, atherosclerosis and infections and is even linked to inhibiting certain types of cancer.

Onions are also naturally anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antiviral. That, of course, is when you eat them!

Onions to Heal: First to Remove Odors

Fast-forward to me being in Vilcabamba, Ecuador where I’m here renting a house for 2 months to do an extended water fast. In the first few days in the house, we noticed a very bad septic smell coming from both toilets which never got better, no matter how many times we flushed or cleaned the toilets. After we started the water fast and became more sensitive to smell, I thought to myself, What can we do which is completely natural and will still take this smell away? Then I remembered everything I read about the Almighty Onion!

That night, we sliced 2 white onions in half, placed 1 onion in each of 2 bowls and put one bowl in each bathroom overnight. The onion smell at first was very strong, but that is actually a great smell when you are water fasting (we dreamed of tomato gazpacho with onions!). The next morning, to our complete amazement, there was no more onion smell, and guess what? There was no more septic smell either!!!

Onions to Heal: Taking the Onion Sock Test

I became so excited with this discovery that I wanted to try to Onion Sock theory. Luckily, we still had 1 onion left in the house, so the very next night, we cut the onion into 4 lateral thick slices (each slice about 1/2″ thick). I use 2 slices on my my feet and gave the remaining 2 to my boyfriend who willing put them on his feet. (Yes, he is a willing participant in all of this stuff including the water fast because, one, he is very open to try new things and he trusts my skills and experience, and two, because he lost his mom to cancer 8 years ago and knows that clean diet, clean body and clean mind are the keys to good health).

Now, the interesting part of this story is that we were on Day 5 of a water fast when we tried the Onion Socks. Mainly, I wanted to see if the onion could be used as a tool to amplify the detox effects. Especially with the body being so clean, the fumes from the onion could theoretically be absorbed through the skin and pass through the body more quickly, and perhaps eliminate internal bad bacteria or even parasites.

With Onion Socks on, we waited anxiously to see what would happen. Note that both of us were feeling good all day and I felt great when we placed the onions on our feet. My boyfriend was feeling pretty tired and weak after his evening enema but had felt really good earlier in the day.

Praise for the Onion!

Praise for the Onion!

Results of the Onion Sock Experiment

After about 30 minutes with the Onion Socks on, I started to feel distinct quivers in my calves and a twitch on my left side at the rib cage. 20 minutes later, I started feeling heartburn! That was amazing. I have not had any acid reflux at all during this water fast (although is was an issue during my last water fast, all of which I explain in my ebook: Water Fasting Guide & 40-Day Journal). Shortly after that, I started to feel hot in the head. In another 10 minutes, my eyes started to tear as if I had just cut an onion, although a much milder sensation but clearly a distinct tearing.

5 minutes after that, my boyfriend told me he had the taste of onion in his mouth!

So clearly, something was happening, even if it was only onion fumes passing through our bodies and nothing else.

The next morning, we compared notes about how we felt. My boyfriend had a terrible night and barely slept and felt that the onion fumes had upset his intestinal worms (which we are sure he has and are hoping the water fast will eliminate). I felt tired and weak, the first day for me to feel that way, but I did feel better. I don’t think it was the placebo effect as I am very open to trying something and saying it doesn’t work.

And the real reason why I think it worked is because 90% of my hay fever and allergy symptoms disappeared overnight!! That is the best part of this story so far. Ever since we arrived to Vilcabama, I have been sneezing like crazy, scratching my nose all the time with excessive mucous coming out of my nose almost constantly. Well, they say that raw foodists don’t have allergies so I could not understand what was going on and I was hoping that the water fast would help. But, we went through Day 1-4 with absolutely no change and no relief, still sneezing up to 50 times a day easily. Well, after the Onion Socks, I did not have any mucous, and I went through the whole day with no itchy eyes and no itchy nose and I think I sneezed only 2 times the entire day!! Now, that is no placebo effect! Anyone who suffers from allergies can appreciate how wonderful the sense of relief is, and to find a natural ‘cure’ and experience allergy relief from 1/2 of an onion?! Wow!!

Today we went out and bought 10 more onions and we are going to continue with the Onion Socks intermittently during our water fast. I’ll update later with more results. Meanwhile, consider trying this yourself at home. I mean, what do you have to lose except for the cost of a few onions? In my opinion, it’s a safe and effective method with nothing to lose and a lot to possibly gain.

UPDATE: I did the Onion Sock again the next night, and that was it. One month later, eating again, and all sign of hayfever are still gone! I recommended this to a Natural Hygiene Raw Foodist in Vilcabamba who was also having hay fever allergies, and he had noticeable reduction of symptoms after 24 hours.

This article is not meant to diagnose any disease. For any serious medical concerns, always consult with your doctor.

Read more information on the liver and liver cleansing here:

Liver Flush Detox Drink – Recipe for a Daily Liver Cleanse

Gallstone Liver Flush – Recipe & Cleanse Info

How to Do a Coffee Enema at Home

How to Do a Castor Oil Pack for Liver Cleansing

How to Eat Clean: Start with Green Smoothies!

Green Smoothie for DummiesCheck out my book Green Smoothies for Dummies – I’ve got loads of recipes using dark leafy greens and many delicious combos without any chemical additives, flavorings or refined sugar. It’s so easy!

Clean your body from the inside out and watch your skin improve, your hair and nails get stronger, your eyes look brighter and your waistline slim down….all naturally and effortlessly! It’s simply amazing and your only regret will be that you didn’t start drinking green smoothies sooner.

When you take care of your whole body, you get whole body health.

When you let your food be your medicine, you are always moving towards better health.

Find the book Green Smoothies for Dummies on iTunes or amazon.com!

For more on how to achieve your health goals and actually start feeling great, book a private health consult with me via Skype.

How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Coaching Session:

1. Take photos of your eyes with a smart phone or digital camera.
2. Email the photos to me for approval for Iridology Analysis.
3. We schedule a time to meet via phone or Skype!

More on pH health:

More on Healing Crisis:

More on anti-Aging:


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Jennifer Betesh has been working with raw food, juices, smoothies and detox for over two decades to help people heal. Today, she shares her expertise worldwide, offering lectures, workshops, training and one-on-one consultations at various health and detox retreat centers. She provides Iridology Readings & Health Coaching via Skype and Phone to clients and continues to educate, motivate and inspire others on their journey of healing. When she’s not working, you’ll find her hiking in the mountains, power-walking along the sea or globe-trotting to a new and exotic health destination.
199 replies
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  1. Benard
    Benard says:

    How about a little growth in the face. How do eradicate it? Though it is little, it has been increasing little by over time

  2. Terry R.
    Terry R. says:

    No disrespect intended, but I’m calling BS. My wife has started coming down with the flu, so we tried this… no change to her symptoms or how she’s feeling at all, even though we did both the ‘sock’ bit and the ‘cut onion in a bowl’ bit. The onion only dehydrated a bit… no change of color, and no positive effect. It was worth a try, though.

  3. Mindy
    Mindy says:

    There is a lot of talk about inflammation and regressive autism, do you think you would have to eat onions to get the anti-inflammatory effects at that level? My twins are only 2.5 so getting them to eat onions is tough. Thanks!

    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear Mindy,

      There are loads of other anti-inflammatory foods besides onions. Besides, this article is not about eating onions. It’s about putting them on the soles of the feet!

      In any case, anti-inflammatory foods that you can EAT include celery, leek, ginger, carrot, parsnip, turmeric, lemon, beets…all of which could be cooked in a soup and pureed for a child to eat. Definitely don’t want to add bone broth or soup stock as those contain yeast extract, and that IS an inflammatory ingredient. Basically, stick with whole fruits and veggies and you will be ok! Preferably organic whenever possible, of course.

      The other thing to consider with autism is any potential of heavy metal contamination. With that, it’s imperative to eliminate the source. Drinking water, GMO foods, amongst other things, can be part of the problem. Even amalgam fillings, aluminum toxicity or other heavy metals like arsenic or cadmium in the mother if she is breastfeeding. That’s just a small bit of info and there is a whole lot more to it, but it’s a place to start!

      My best,

      To your health,


  4. Beverly
    Beverly says:

    My mom used to cut a white onion in half and rub over our poison ivy and the next day day poison ivy would be dried up and not itchy. I still do this and it still works. I would like to know if onions can help out with bumps I get on my elbows?

    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear Beverly,

      I guess the only way to find out is to give it a try!

      If it’s an itchy type of bump, I often find that these are linked to some type of food intolerance or food additive intolerance.

      To your good health,


      • Chris
        Chris says:

        I have had these bumps all over my chin and under my nose. For about 4 mos. I could not get rid of it. I was thinking what have I started doing different and I started brewing green tea and adding stevia and making it into ice tea. I have been drinking it for about six months now I have had the flu and complications from the flu for 2 weeks and haven’t felt like making tea and the bumps are going away? It sounds crazy to me I thought both ingredients were healthy! Have you ever heard of that?

        • Jennifer Thompson
          Jennifer Thompson says:

          Hi Chris,

          I have heard of people reacting to green tea before. I believe it’s the theanine in green tea that can cause problems in some people. I’ve seen cases of headaches, nausea, vomiting, rashes, and hives. If that’s the culprit, then you need to be careful choosing Kombucha drinks too since some of them are made with green tea. Always check the ingredients on the back of the Kombucha label.

          I hope you are feeling better soon!

          My best,

          To your health,


  5. Raymond Wong
    Raymond Wong says:

    Hi jennifer,im working nightshift,i always have pain both my left & right shoulder & the muscle in between,if onion can reduce the pain,i want to try.how to prepare it?

    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear Raymond,

      Try taking Magnesium Citrate, 200mg 3x daily (morning, noon and night; with or without food id ok). Here is an example of what to buy. In my professional experience, magnesium will help much more than the onion in your case. Good luck!

      To your health,


      • Jeff
        Jeff says:

        Jennifer, please be very careful with this kind of reply. I know people in similar situations who have been successfully both sued and also criminally prosecuted for giving out such direct medical advice.

        • Jennifer Thompson
          Jennifer Thompson says:

          Dear Jeff,

          Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your concern over this important issue. I am NOT a medical doctor and I do not offer medical advice. Anyone with questions related to a specific medical condition should seek advice from their doctor. Read my full disclaimer here. I also have a disclaimer at the bottom of this page, at the beginning of the article AND at the end of the article.

  6. Alaina
    Alaina says:

    Do you need to get a new onion daily until healed? Or leave the same onion in the room of the person with a cold?

    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Probably not so much. Acidity has more to do with what you put inside your stomach (i.e. processed food, prescription medications, recreational drugs, alcohol, coffee, etc) and inside your head, that is thoughts/emotions. Forgiveness, acceptance, love, joy, laughter are all alkaline-forming whereas anger, resentment, jealousy, fear and frustration are acid-forming. That said, if you did have a virus or infection, it would likely start from a acid-forming environment so in a way it is all related!

      In health,


  7. Hayley Odessa Beverly Carter
    Hayley Odessa Beverly Carter says:

    I Googled onions because my mother just finished tell me I hardly ever got suck as a child because I had an onion in my room /bed? Most of my child hood. Needless to say. I am sick atm and going to bed with a onion tonight.

  8. Kasey
    Kasey says:

    Hi Jennifer. A friend of mine shared your blog about onions on her facebook page not long ago & I saved the link. My 7 yr old daughter had flu B in late Feb & now has flu A. I bought some big white onions & followed your instructions this morn. I too have had a cough & amazingly feel better this evening. I’m wondering if 7 yrs old is too young to try the onion socks? I read possible ‘side effects’ as process begins to work, so what are your thoughts on trying this with her?

    Thank you!

  9. Paul
    Paul says:

    I have been battling an MRSA infection for two years now, first using the western medicine approach. When that failed, I began using advice I find on sites such as yours. The positive energy you offer is a big part of the healing process and it has influenced the gentleness which which now I motivate myself and offer to those around me. Thank-you for your generosity and on going encouragement.

    I am currently using natural based topical solutions composed of essential oils in carrier oils and well as ingesting daily tumeric and garlic smoothies and raw cider vinegar to deal with this infection. I believe I am close to being free of the infection which seems to have retreated into my left shin bone from where it periodically flares up. Last night, an unusually aggressive reappearance of the MRSA was stopped dead in its tracks by leaving onions on the infected area, over night,

    Do you have any other suggestions?

    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear Paul,

      I’m sorry to hear about your suffering. The first and most important question is – are you absolutely sure it’s an MRSA infection? Meaning you have had a swab test to identify it as such? This is really important because we want to make sure that we are on the right track. I have A LOT of experience with rashes and I know that they can be misdiagnosed or even diagnosed differently by going to different doctors with the same exact symptom.

      My best,


      • scott
        scott says:

        At age 36 i now have a serious case of nut allergie. the kitchen now a minefield. can you tell me how to cure it? also 75% of a onion just saved me from a very nasty nut attack! 10 minutes later i was pooping in the toilet, twice. it brought up my dinner and my lunch if you know what i mean 🙂

  10. Bluedog
    Bluedog says:

    Very interesting article. And something I’d like to try but wondering if the onion slices would interact with the anti rejection meds I take for my kidney transplant. (Celliptical and Prograf) Do you know if it would be safe for me? Please email me. I never liked big Pharmacy as natural healing seems so much better than (this drug can cause cancer . . . and a ton of other side effects.)

  11. flower delivery india
    flower delivery india says:

    Hi Jenni, I am just facing the problem of cold & cough! And not much confused what to eat, what not to eat 🙁 My nose is sneeze and freeze many times. Please help me to overcome this problem!

    P.S: I am Eggetarian 🙂

    Regards, Vicky

  12. Debbie
    Debbie says:

    I’m trying this tonight. I have Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer Mets to my 7th rib. Did 2 rounds of chemo hated it. Am thinking of trying natural healing techniques and have been researching when I came across this detox article. Sounds like something my grandma would’ve done. She used to rub vicks on her throat and wrap a sock around it next day sore throat was gone. I really think natural cures are better for your body. I never took any medicine until I was diagnosed this year. Really hate taking opioids but the pain in my bones and joints from the cancer is incredibly painful without something. If I can find a natural way to relieve it I would try it. By the way, my daughter thinks I’m crazy with onions on my feet! Can’t wait to show her it works!!

      • Debra Carter
        Debra Carter says:

        Yes it works I was sick . In West Virginia I was sick so I put a purple onion by my bed cut in half yes it worked for me at the time I was 56 years old . I was out of town with my husband he was all ways workings so I was a long way from home so I saw this ad on Facebook so I gave it a try . It really does work. I’m now 59 years old. Yes I can’t say I never got sick again in 2015 I had double ammonia no I didn’t no I didn’t use the onion on double pneumonia I almost died. Well the good thing was that the onion helped me at the time I was sick. If you get anything you you should get a pneumonia shot that’s what helped me so ever since then I have not been sick.all & all the onion helped me & My Father up above healed me to thank you for listening to me

  13. Grace
    Grace says:

    Have you looked into diatomaceous earth for intestinal worms? Just thought it would be something you could check out. We are trying the onion as well.

    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear Grace,

      I am totally against diatomaceous earth (DE) for any use whatsoever, including ingesting, adding to soil, feeding to chickens, or filtering wine, beer or molasses with it. DE is naturally high in arsenic. Arsenic is a heavy metal and a known carcinogen, whether naturally occurring or not. Your wine can be filtered with DE making it high in arsenic. Your chickens can lay eggs that are high in arsenic. I am sorry to say but this is one of the worst products of all time, in my opinion. You would essentially take 1 step forward and 20 steps backward if using DE …and ingesting is the worst!

      Stay with the onions – they are safe and non-toxic, that’s what the body needs for healing!

      For intestinal worms: garlic, fennel, onion, clove, papaya seeds – are all excellent and safe.

  14. Tonii
    Tonii says:

    I had running nose, sore throat, and cough. Took everything and stayed I bed all day, thinking for sure this will last again the next day. My friend shared the onion in the socks theory, and for certain I was goin to try it.
    The next day I was better. And could not believe it!!!! One day cold does not happen… Well it happened to me! I am hooked on this method of clearing a cold!

  15. Lorraine
    Lorraine says:

    When I was growing up my mum used to put a cut onion in water to absorb the paint smell every time we had the house painted.

  16. Shaun
    Shaun says:

    I have had a bad chest and cold symptoms for 13 days now and have tried fresh air, veg increase, vitamin c in fresh juices and yet still cant shift my cough.

    So 20 minutes ago I went downstairs, cut an onion in half and put in a bowl next to my bed…I then decided to put the onion halfs in each sock directly to the sole of my feet….Im now having a tingling sensation in my right foot and leg…my right lung feels empty and i can take deep breaths! My right eye is also twitching…maybe just the onion vapour? I applied the onion directly onto the area that reflexology say is linked to the lungs. I will update you all to my progress but so far my lung feels clear and Im a sceptic!

    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear Goodwin,

      No, I did not…but thank you for letting me know as I contacted them immediately and the deleted the stolen article. Thank you for taking the time to inform me! It’s a shame to see that people steal everything, word for word, including pictures!

      As a gesture of my gratitude, I would like to send you a FREE copy of my book – Green Smoothies for Dummies. Please send me a private comment with your address. (I’ll only reply if it’s from the same email you listed here to be sure it’s really you making the request.)

      Thanks again and many blessings to your health,


  17. Phyllis
    Phyllis says:

    When my parents told me about the cut onion in the room when you’re sick,I decided to try it, I am also going to try your onion in the sock remedy, I’m not getting any relief from Blackelderberry, vitamin C lemon and honey and before I call the doctor,I’d rather try something natural.

    My own story growing up is about my mother using onion juice in my ear for ear aches. She would squeeze an onion onto a teaspoon, warm it very so slightly on the stove and pour it into my ear, then she would cover my ear with a cotton ball, it worked every time and as a child I knew relief was on it’s way, I would anticipate relief, this is something passed down through generations in our family. I do believe in the power of homeopathic remedies.

  18. Ameena
    Ameena says:

    I tried this onion socks thing. I was sick, but I only have a little phlegm. I do have pain in my hand sometimes. I felt that something was being released from my hands in the night. I also had heartburn a little. I coughed up the phlegm in the morning. All day, I have also been in a very good mood. Prior to this, I commented to my family that I was feeling down. This has only been day 2. I am curious as to why I had heartburn. Did you ever find out why?

    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear Ameena,

      I’m sorry to say that I don’t have a proven scientific reason why the heartburn occurs…I could only guess that once the natural quercitin from the onion gets into the bloodstream after penetrating through the skin, then it moves through the body and in some people may cause some minor reaction in the stomach. Or…it could be the sulfur doing something similar. Coughing up phlegm is a good sign that your body is releasing toxins or bacteria. Feeling better is also a very good sign, and thats wonderful news!

      Recently our 12-month old puppy was teething. She had 2 baby canine teeth left and neither were really loose but our vet told us that they needed to come out. Truth be told, I forgot about them completely. Then I noticed she was eating my comfrey plant outside….seemingly out of nowhere. Every day she would munch on a few big leaves in the morning and evening. A few days later, I noticed one baby tooth was gone. It made me think about the comfrey leaves and why she started eating them, so I did a bit of research and saw that comfrey is known to help heal wounds and promote healing. Pretty much the best fresh herb we had on hand for a toothache! About 6 weeks later, the dog did the same thing when the other tooth came out; that is she started eating the comfrey plant again for about a week and then stopped after the tooth came out.

      What’s simply amazing to me is that animals in nature intuitively know what plants they need to help them heal…they don’t learn it, look it up or even understand why…they just know. In many ways, I would say that we still have so much to learn from them!!

      To your health,


  19. Cj
    Cj says:

    I think this is interesting- when i was young my toes got infected around the cuticles and my mom tried several different medicines to try and clear it up – none of them worked then one day my grandma took and shaved some onion and ivory soap and mashed it together put it on a band aid over the infection and it was better in about a day or so. My toe is now infected and was looking on information for that method and found your article and i believe it because of how the onion seemed to just pull the infection right out.


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