Onion: medicinal properties, method of use and benefits


Allium cepa





Onion, Allium cepa, belongs to the Liliaceae family (although many botanists classify it within the Amarillidaceae family).

It is a plant native to a large area of ​​western Asia ranging from Turkey to India and is one of the most cultivated and used horticultural plants as it is used both raw and cooked, as a condiment and as a medicine and also waste. they are used for animal feed.

It is a herbaceous plant with a biennial cycle (annual in cultivation) with superficial and fasciculated roots. The edible part is a bulb that is nothing more than the swelling of the basal part of the leaves that grow very narrow around the real stem called "girello. or disk ", very short because the internodes are very close together.

The leaves in the onion, alternate and opposite 180 °. The flower stem of the onion is formed in the second year of life of the plant and is 40 to 100 cm high, is hollow inside and ends with a spathe that protects the 'umbel inflorescence of a globular shape that splits when the flowers are formed.The flowers of the onion are white, greenish-yellow or pink.The fruit is a three-lobed capsule that bears from 2 to 3 seeds per lobe. The seeds are irregularly shaped flat, black and angular.


Onion is a plant very rich in water with a low energy value of about 26 calories / 100 g of edible part (edible).

It has a good content in mineral salts such as calcium, phosphorus, iodine, fluorine and potassium with numerous soluble carbohydrates such as glucose, sucrose and fructose. In addition to this it is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, PP, C and E, flavonoids and proteins. The characteristic aroma of onion and the "tear" is due to some volatile sulfur components that are formed when it is cut . In fact, if the onion is not cut it does not cause these effects and the smell is greatly reduced.

The therapeutic properties of onion are many and can be summarized as follows: it prevents arteriosclerosis, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, promotes diuresis and in general has antifungal and antibacterial properties, expectorant, laxative, cicatrizing and is effective for treating bites. of insects.

It is mainly red onions that are used for therapeutic purposes.


The bulb harvested in late spring or summer is used for the onion when the leaves are curved and withered.


Onion can be used macerated, as an infusion, as a decoction against urinary tract diseases, water retention, to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

The extract for affections of the mouth and throat.

Hot poultices of cooked onion can be made to cure abscesses.

In cosmetics, the onion can be rubbed on dry and damaged skin.


Have you ever wondered why the old watches were named onions? The reason is linked to the fact that once the watches were worn in the pocket tied to a chain. To protect them from shocks, an external closure and an internal one were devised that opened just like the veils of the onion.


The use of onion is not recommended for pregnant women, liver patients, and its raw use is not recommended for those suffering from dermatosis, difficult digestions and those who bleed easily.


You see: Onion - The language of flowers and plants.

Onion: properties, benefits, contraindications and nutritional values

Onion is an aromatic plant rich in nutritional values ​​widely used in our kitchen. This vegetable, in fact, in addition to enriching many dishes with its flavor, has important therapeutic properties, is used in many aesthetic and beauty treatments and is also a panacea for the line as it helps to counteract swelling and water retention. Despite its benefits, it has some drawbacks!

14 reasons to never miss the onion at the table

An important form of flavonoids contained in onions are alkenyl cysteine ​​sulfoxides (also called ACSO), sulfur components with a range of benefits that include anti-tumor, anti-aggregating, anti-thrombotic, anti-asthmatic and antibiotic properties.

Have you ever wondered why your eyes cry when you cut an onion? The reason is that the membrane that contains the ACSO is perforated releasing these sulfur components into the air. A small price to pay to take advantage of all the benefits it brings with it.

What are the different types of onions?

Onion is so widely used that any culinary dish from almost all parts of the earth has added the vegetable. There are undoubtedly several types of onions - but here, let's talk about the most common ones.

  • Yellow Onions - have ivory white flesh that is surrounded by heavy brown skin. They have a strong and sulfur aroma.
  • White Onions - have dull white skin and are milder and sweeter than their yellow counterparts.
  • Red onions - are mild and sweet enough to be eaten raw. The outer skin and flesh are deep magenta.
  • Shallots - They are smaller and darker and have purple flesh.

1. An ally for strong and healthy bones

Onions have positive effects on bone health by promoting greater mineral density in bones, which reduces the risk of fractures. A study carried out on a sample of female subjects shows how the increase in onion consumption is proportional to the increase in bone density, with a possible 20% reduction in the risk of pelvic fractures, compared to those who do not take them at all. One of the mechanisms responsible for the bone-strengthening benefits of onions may be the GPCS peptide, which helps inhibit bone breakdown, reverse the process of damage due to corticosteroids, and prevent osteoporosis (1).

2. Reduces the risk of arthritis and asthma

The fabulous anti-inflammatory properties of onion make it one of the best vegetable choices if you suffer from painful inflammatory diseases such asarthritis or asthma. In fact, some of the most important antioxidants found in onions include flavonoids such as quercetin and anthocyanins. While anthocyanins (the same antioxidants found in red fruits) are responsible for the intense color of red onions, Quercetin is an antihistamine phytonutrient that is often found in allergy care products.

It reduces the effects of histamine on the immune system and inhibits leukotrienes, prostaglandins and histamines which cause inflammation and cause pain and swelling.

3. Defense against respiratory infections

Some experts assure that certain phytonutrients present in onions increase the immunitary defense, fighting inflammation of the respiratory system by reducing mucus in the nasal cavities, lungs and thus speeding up the healing process.

4. A natural anti-tumor support

According to several clinical studies, onion helps reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer such as colon, ovarian and mouth cancers, thanks to the rich amount of antioxidants that act in the prevention of cell damage (2).

Studies show that the sulfur components of onions prevent the development and growth of tumors by protecting cells from mutations and inducing apoptosis (the process of programmed cell death).

5. Cardiovascular protection

Onions have fibronolytic benefits, i.e. they provide cardiovascular protection by reducing the risk of blood clots forming. In addition, they protect against bad cholesterol by limiting the activity of harmful free radicals within the blood vessels, thus lowering the levels of oxidative stress and improving circulation and pressure.

6. Prevention and treatment of diabetes

A Korean study explains how onion extract can help fight diabetes since the intake of this vegetable is effective in reducing the concentration of glucose in the blood and body weight and in preventing insulin resistance.

In addition, onions contain a rare mineral in foods, chromium, an essential trace element also useful in the management of blood sugar levels and in the control and prevention of diabetes (3).

7. A natural aid to fertility

Antioxidants have a big impact on the vital parameters of seminal fluid, so onions, rich in them, are considered a natural method for increasing fertility. A study carried out in rats shows that the administration of high doses of onion increases the level of total testosterone significantly and improves the concentration, viability and mobility of the sperm (4).

8. Protects the eyes

The sulfur contained in onions stimulates the production of a protein called glutathione, a powerful antioxidant agent that has been shown to be useful in the prevention of macular degeneration. In addition, onions have a certain amount of selenium, and in a study the ability of onion juice to inhibit conjunctivitis and blepharitis was discovered.

9. Useful for teeth and oral cavity

Onions contain thiosulphinates and thiosulfonates (also known as sulfur compounds) capable of helping to counteract the bacteria capable of causing damage to the teeth.

The best way to consume onions is raw, as cooking destroys a large part of these components.

10. Improve brain health

Some research suggests that onion extracts, including di-n-propyl trisulfide are capable of better memory, and which can positively affect the hippocampus, that part of the brain responsible for spatial navigation and long-term memory.

11. Natural remedy for acne

The antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory potential of onions are particularly useful for protecting the skin from the bacteria responsible for many skin infections, includingacne itself. In the past they were also used to reduce the visibility of pimples.

Our advice is to dilute a tablespoon of fresh onion juice with one of olive oil, but you can also use almond, agave, flax oil as you prefer. Apply it gently on the face, paying particular attention not to come into contact with the eyes.

And for the treatment of acne scars, onion extract can be used. Or you can look for creams that have onion extract as one of the ingredients.

12. Rich in vitamins useful for the skin

Onions contain vitamins A, C and E, all capable of positively contributing to the health of the skin, protecting it from premature aging caused by free radicals.

13. Combat the effects of aging

The real anti-aging effectiveness attributed to onions is given by the presence of phytochemicals rich in sulfur. Not surprisingly, it is a bulb vegetable increasingly used in cosmetics, but there are natural remedies that we can use simply with onion juice. We massage the affected skin with fresh onion juice to promote blood circulation and give it brightness and vitality.

14. Stimulates hair regrowth

Onion juice is good for promoting hair growth thanks to the presence of sulfur, also present in amino acids.

But above all, keratin is necessary for strong and healthy hair. Sulfur can also stimulate the production of collagen - which, in turn, aids in the production of healthy skin cells and, hair growth (by default, also hair treatment).

The use of onion juice on the hair and scalp can increase the blood supply to the hair follicles, increasing hair growth. It can also give you voluminous hair. In one study, participants who washed their hair with onion juice experienced more hair growth than those who didn't, however, more research is needed.

Nutritional values ​​and calories:

Although some onion varieties are sweeter and therefore lighter in flavor (for example, shallots or golden onions), their white and red sisters contain a higher percentage of beneficial components. According to some research, golden onions contain higher levels of quercetin and sulfur components, while red onions are richer in other protective antioxidants as indicated by their color.

Sweeter onions are left in the ground longer before being harvested, so many of their carbohydrates have time to turn into sugars. Some research suggests that the nutritional benefits of onions improve the longer they are left in the soil. However in general, even if their taste softens over time, the phytonutrients are reduced. Therefore, the rule of "the more intense the taste and smell, the more nutrients are present" applies.

A chopped, raw medium-sized onion contains approximately:

  • 64 calories
  • 2 grams of protein
  • 2 grams of fiber
  • 7 grams of sugar
  • 8 mg. Vitamin C (20% RDA)
  • 0.2 mg. Vitamin B6 (10% RDA)
  • 0.2 mg. Manganese (10% RDA)
  • 22 mg. Folate (8% RDA)
  • 234 mg. Potassium (7% RDA)
  • 46 mg. Phosphorus (5% RDA)
  • 0.07 mg. Vitamin B1 - Thiamine (5% RDA)
  • It does not contain fat.


The onion, along with other plants such as leeks and garlic, belongs to the ALLIUM genus, a genus of the liliaceae family. All belonging to this genus contain therapeutic oils that have sulfur components partially responsible for its unmistakable smell and taste.

Onions may have been one of the raw materials to be cultivated, thanks to their easy adaptation to different types of climate and soil, their durability, ease of transport and the fact that they are much less perishable than other foods of the time. They can also be grown throughout the year, dried and stored for a long time, which in the past made them a valuable source of nutrients during times of famine.

Ancient peoples believed that onions had a beneficial effect in the treatment of various diseases and that they should therefore be an integral part of the diet. Although there is no evidence to indicate the exact appearance of onions, their history dates back to 5,000 years ago in areas of Iran and western Pakistan. However, its use for food and medicinal purposes has, for thousands of years, extended to the whole world.

There is evidence that onions existed in some parts of China, India and Egypt around 3500 BC.

In Egypt, onions were considered objects of worship and prayer. Even depicted on the innermost walls of tombs and pyramids, they symbolized eternity for their curious "circle within a circle" structure.

Finally, food for the Israelites, onion is mentioned as one of the biblical foods along with cucumbers, leeks, melons and garlic.

To date, the third world supplier of onions is the United States, preceded only by China and India.

Cooking and storing onions

Research shows that onions, unlike apples, spinach and berries for example, are actually one of the vegetables least contaminated by pesticides and therefore the ones that store less residues.

We can store onions for about a month away from light and heat sources before they start to rot, so there is no disadvantage to buying a good supply when we are in the supermarket.

Regarding conservation, we give you some advice. If stored near potatoes, onions tend to absorb a gas called ethylene, produced by their neighbors. It will cause them to fail at a faster rate. So the advice is to always store these two foods separately.

Onions should not be stored in the refrigerator, however once cut they should be refrigerated and consumed as soon as possible to keep their precious nutrients intact. Close the cut parts in an airtight container, separating them from other foods. Their strong smell and taste could affect that of the rest of the food.

Depending on the recipe, different varieties of onion are used. Red onions and shallots can be eaten raw, while white and golden onions are better suited for cooking. However, it does not matter which type of onion you choose, keep in mind that a high percentage of phytonutrients are found just under the thin outer skin. To maximize its effects, get rid of only the outermost paper-like layer and consume the rest.

Studies show that by cutting onions and leaving them in the air for 10 minutes, their phytonutrients actually increase and become more absorbable. So when you cook, take some time and let them sit on the cutting board before adding them to your recipes.

Contraindications and warnings:

Onions tend to cause unpleasant reactions in those suffering from digestive problems (gastroesophageal reflux, acidity). If you notice these types of reactions when you consume onions, you may need to limit their consumption or eliminate them from your diet for a certain period of time to understand if the symptoms go away or reduce. Some individuals are able to effectively digest only small quantities of cooked onions, so some tests are needed to test your personal tolerance to food. Valid alternatives to red, white and golden onions are leeks, spring onions and chives which tend to cause less digestive upset with a similar beneficial effect and similar additions of flavor to your recipes.

Spring onion, properties and benefits

Spring onion: what it is

The spring onion it is part of the vegetables of the allium family, including garlic, and shares its nutritional and beneficial properties with them.

The spring onion is the immature bulb, caught before the bulb that we know well is formed. The flavor of spring onions depends on the type of onion from which they are made, if that is from white onion or red onion: the first is the most common and has a pungent flavor, while the second is sweeter and more delicate.

The spring onions are present all year round grown in greenhouses, but the natural season to find them fresh is the beginning of spring.

Spring onion both the leaves, richer in vitamins, and the small bulb deprived of the beard are consumed, rich in minerals and enzymes.

There are numerous recipes that use it instead of onion and garlic, since the flavor is less intense, but to fully exploit its properties you need to enjoy it raw.

The leaves they must be soft and fleshy, not stiff and dry, and i bulbs with a slightly larger diameter than the stem and a light color. It can consume raw in pinzimonio, or in green salads, as well as in those of cereals and pasta, in savory pies and farinata, while cooked is a tasty and healthy ingredient of warming soups for the winter.

Famous is the spring onion from Nocerino, DOP product of Campania.

Read also The spring onion in the recipe of the wholemeal kamut salad >>

The spring onion in folk medicine

The spring onion, together with onion and atgarlic, has been used long over the years as an ingredient in folk medicine. Antibiotic and antibacterial, it is used as an extract and juice, as a syrup, and as a food, serving as a supplement and natural medicine.

The beneficial properties of the spring onions are numerous:

> are diuretics: the high water content of the spring onions allows to eliminate, through the urine, excess liquids

> act like decongestants and emollients: like onion juice, also spring onion, added to honey, is a very useful folk remedy in case of mucus and inflammation of the upper respiratory tract, therefore in case of cough, bronchitis, cold and sore throat

> are purifying: the sulphurates of which they are rich allow to eliminate nitrites and nitratesproducts from the body in case of intoxication and responsible for cellular aging

> constitute a profit antibacterial natural of the urinary tract: the presence of sulfur in spring onions, associated with the diuretic power, allows to expel, together with the urine, even the bacteria that are responsible for urinary tract infections

> affect the levels of glycemia in the blood: it is suitable for those suffering from hyperglycemia and diabetics

> are useful for the health of the heart he was born in circulatory system: sulfur compounds act on the concentration of cholesterol in the blood, on vascular elasticity, and the sulfur and potassium contained in the spring onion contribute to the proper functioning of the heart muscle

> stimulate the good mood: the spring onion contains folate, able, among other things, to reduce stress, improve the quality of sleep and act as natural antidepressant

> contribute to well-being of bones and teeth: this function is possible thanks to the presence of phosphorus in the spring onions

> stimulates the digestion: thanks to the presence of digestive enzymes, especially if consumed raw

> antitumor: like all vegetables of the allium family were made scientific studies that have highlighted its anticancer properties, especially at the level of the pancreas, stomach, intestine, the antitumor function is performed by sulfur compounds capable of reducing the carcinogenic effect of aromatic hydrocarbons.

Onion nutrients

The main element of the onion is thewater, in fact, represents 90% of its composition. For this reason, it is surprising how many nutrients and beneficial properties are found in the remaining 10%:

  • Essential oils: to them we owe most of the properties of the onion, which we will talk about later, although they are also the culprits of the annoying tearing when cutting onions.
  • Vitamins of group B: necessary for the proper functioning of the nervous and immune systems, together with vitamin E and C, with a powerful antioxidant action.
  • Numerous minerals and trace elements such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, sodium and sulfur.
  • Essential amino acids.
  • Fiber.

Onion on the bedside table

This may seem like a strange remedy but many people who have tried it have been satisfied. To calm coughs and colds, you can cut an onion in half and place it on the bedside table next to the bed where you sleep. It must be left overnight in order to breathe its aroma. In fact, even the scents of the onion would have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and could therefore help disinfect the environments by acting among other things as a "magnet" for the bacteria present in the body of the sick person.

Garlic: properties and benefits of the natural antibiotic

L'garlic it has been used since ancient times for its healthy and beneficial properties for the human body.

Even the ancient Egyptians were famous for an excessive use of this aroma due to its medicinal properties, and were nicknamed "fetid" precisely because of the strong smell they emanated from the skin due to their habit of eating garlic and onion in abundance.

Let's see its properties and uses, especially how natural antibiotic.

Garlic, natural antibiotic

We can speak of a natural antibiotic when we have a product containing substances that have the ability to fight the aggression of many microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. In nature we find various natural antibiotics and among these garlic is certainly among the first places for its effectiveness.

Indeed garlic can be used in all those cases in which microorganisms produce inflammation and infection to the human body.

We can therefore think of garlic as a natural medicine for exampler to prevent infections in general and to combat many ailments seasonal such as coughs, colds and flu. The substance that has this strong antibacterial and anti-infective power is theallicin.

Furthermore garlic has a very strong antiseptic action against numerous pathogens and is a strong antibacterial thanks to the presence of garlicine, which in fact manages to be very useful in all illnesses in which there are bacteria harmful to the human body.

Finally, garlic is not only useful for our body but when garlic is grown next to other horticultural plants, it can protect them from the attack of harmful insects and removes some diseases that are harmful to plants.

Tips for using garlic as an antibiotic

To be used as a natural antibiotic, garlic must be eaten raw otherwise the beneficial substances are deteriorated and rendered inactive by the cooking temperature or by drying.

Consumption of raw garlic for curative purposes however, it needs to exceed at least i 3 cloves of garlic per day for 3 weeks in order to have sufficient quantities of beneficial active ingredients.

Exist natural supplements based on dried garlic used for health purposes but the real benefits of these products must be well evaluated because, as we have said, some substances such as allicin are lost or significantly reduced during drying.

However, there is a method to preserve allicin and make it more stable and less perishable from high temperatures: it will be sufficient to cut the garlic and leave it to rest for at least 10 minutes in order to allow the maximum production process of allicin which, once synthesized, remains. more temperature stable and thus maintains the beneficial effect of natural antibiotic.

Allicin and other active ingredients of garlic

Garlic contains many nutritional substances such as mineral salts (magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iodine and iron), vitamins (B1, B2, A, C and PP) and some active ingredients used with beneficial health effects.

Among these substances we remember allicin which is responsible for the strong smell of garlic and is the active ingredient also scientifically recognized with antibiotic effect. The garlic variety richest in allicin is lred garlic from Nubia.

Allicin is not present directly in the bulb but is released when a clove of garlic is crushed or cut: it is at this moment that the typical aroma composed of 70% allicin comes out, resulting from the enzymatic reaction between the sulfoxide of the cysteine ​​and the alinase enzyme during contusion of the bulb.

In addition to allicin, there are other active substances such as enzymes and hormones-like that give garlic many healthy properties.

Garlic and 4 other natural antibiotics for your health

Other properties of garlic

First of all, garlic has a purifying action which is carried out particularly towards the bloodstream is in fact a antipotensive thanks to its ability to thin the blood and make circulation easier, so much so that it has beneficial effects on the entire cardiovascular system, even toning the heart muscle.

His have also been scientifically proven anticancer and preventive properties of many major heart diseases and is a regulator of insulin and cholesterol.

The garlic is an excellent constituent and antioxidant so much so that it protects the body's tissues from aging with an anti-free radical action.

Obviously it is an effective one antiseptic and antibacterial used since ancient times as a healing food in traditional folk medicine but also as a environmental disinfectant in the natural sanitation of environments.

In the cases of gastrointestinal problems like fermentation and flatulence, garlic is an excellent ally and is also effective as antidiarrheal is antispasmodic facilitating digestion in general.

Preparations with garlic: compound and infusion

To give some examples of the use of garlic we can think of making a composed of garlic and honey or a infusion of garlic. Let's see how to prepare and use them.

Composed of garlic and honey

> 3 cloves of garlic
> 1 tablespoon of honey

Preparation: crush the 3 cloves of garlic and mix them with the spoonful of honey.

How to use: useful in case of cough, sore throat or other seasonal ailments. This compound must be taken 3 times a day in the dose of one tablespoon to obtain the antibiotic effect of garlic.

Infusion of garlic

> 200 ml of water
> garlic cloves

Preparation: the water is very simply brought to a boil, a few cloves of garlic cut in half are added and then left to infuse over the heat for at least 10 minutes. the infusion is then filtered and drunk.

How to use: 50 ml 3 times a day sweetening with honey or making the taste better with a little lemon juice. The drink can be drunk hot or cold as desired and stored for 2 days in the refrigerator.

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