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A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.

Onion

Allium cepa

Herbs gallery - Onion

Common names

  • Common Onion
  • Onion

The onion - botanically called Allium cepa - is one of the most common culinary herb around, and is used worldwide in many culinary preparations. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus, writes of nine tons of gold being spent to purchase enough onions to feed the builders of the pyramids - this suggests the immense popularity of this vegetable in Egypt of the pharaohs. The ancient Egyptians even offered the humble onion bulb as a sacrificial offering to their god, to the great amusement of the conquering Romans. Thus not only was the onion widely used in the ancient world, but also highly valued by some societies.

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The onion had other uses during the later stages of the Middle Ages when the onion began to be used as a charm against evil spirits and the dangers of the plague - the strong smell of the herb was probably thought to influence and ward off spirits and disease. The strong aroma and flavor of the onions, leeks and the garlic is due to their content of many sulfur compounds. The smell was seen by folk healers as indications for the power of the juice and they believed it could help the prevent infection in the body. The application of onion as a topical remedy to remove warts and prevent acne has also been suggested by some modern herbalist. These herbalist using the onion based syrup as an expectorant in treating coughs and congestion in the chest region. The diuretic action of the onions is also a long held belief and it is said that the herb can reduce high blood pressure in people suffering from the condition. As a tonic, the herbal onion extract is certainly superlative due to its rich content of various vitamins, such as the useful B1 (thiamine) and B2 (riboflavin) groups, as well as the vitamin C so vital to cellular function.

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North American natives have also been familiar with the onion and its related herbs for many centuries. The onion was in fact a favorite spring food of the early American Indians. Indeed, the early adventurous frontiersmen had a sure way to locate the various scattered Indian encampments during the spring by following the heavy scent of onions clinging to the air around native camps.

Parts used

Bulb.

Uses

A long list of medicinal and beneficial properties has been attributed to the onion herb. The plant is believed to have diuretic, as well as antibiotic and anti-inflammatory actions, it is also said to be an herbal analgesic, and an expectorant, and is also said to have anti-rheumatic properties. Circulation in the human body is also benefited by consuming the onion and related herbs. Remedies made from the onions are used in the treatment of various infections such as colds, flu, and persistent coughs affecting patients.

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The onion is similar to the garlic in the nature of its remedial actions, and has a tendency to alleviate angina, problems like arteriosclerosis, as well as to thwart heart attack in patients. Problems like oral infection and tooth decay can also be prevented and treated using remedies made from the onion. In case of earache the warmed onion juice can be dripped into the ear for relief, and the poultice made from baked onion is used to drain away pus from sores on the skin. The aphrodisiac actions of the onion are also an ancient and longstanding reputation of the herb. Onion based remedies are also believed to be cosmetically useful in stimulating hair growth in case of balding problems.

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Other medical uses

Habitat and cultivation

The onion is a native plant of the northern hemisphere. Millennia ago, the onion were one of the first plants cultivated in the Middle East. The popularity of the onion is such that it is now grown as a major vegetable around the world.

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Constituents

Onion contains a volatile oil with sulfurous constituents, sulfur -  containing compounds such as allicin (an antibiotic) and alliin, flavonoids, phenolic; acids, and sterols.

Saltless seasoning

Ingestion of excessive salt either through the foods we consume or otherwise is not beneficial for our health. Hence, you may alternately use a salt-free seasoning blend to ensure that you do not intake too much salt. When you have a ready-made quantity readily available you are able to season vinaigrette quickly or a number of steamed vegetables without spending any additional time to slice and chop them. Place the flavouring in a shaker having big holes on the lid - you may use a spice jar or a used salt canister for this purpose after having cleaned, rinsed and dried it. Irrespective of what you use for a shaker, it should essentially have a lid to keep the blend sealed; otherwise, you may also use Clingfilm to seal the shaker. The ingredients for this recipe are listed below.

  • 50 grams/ 2 ounce of dried dill leaves
  • 50 grams/ 2 ounce of dried onion flakes
  • 3 tablespoons of lightly roasted sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons of dried lemon peel
  • 2 teaspoons of celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of recently pounded black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

Pound all these ingredients collectively in a mortar and grinder or a coffee grinder. Subsequently, put them in a shaker and seal the lid firmly.

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Comments

From Geoffrey Whitlock - Apr-14-2011
The story goes that sometime in middle ages in England there was a flu epidemic and people were dying and getting sick all over the country, except for a family on a farm that never got sick at all. When people wanted to know how they did it, it turns out they used to place onions in every room, peeled, and the onions absorb virus and bacteria from the air. Onions have a great affinity for virus and airborne bacteria. The onions absorb them from the air. Use fresh onions every day and especially, for obvious reasons, you don't eat the onions after they've been peeled for a day or so - they're full of the toxins they've sucked from the air. Onions are said to lower blood pressure, and it does this by correcting blood viscosity and improved oxygen transport. Some traditional farmers in Europe give onions to their cows in winter when they are less active and likely to develop circulatory problems.
The onion is a very useful plant.
From Beverly J Kalkwarf - Mar-02-2011
It was 65 years ago. I had a very high fever. Our door to door bread man suggested a remedy. Place sliced onions on the bottom of my feet and wrap them in an old towel for 24 hours. Yes in 24 hours my temperature was normal back down from 104 degrees. I love onions, my favourite vegetable today.
From Yeeah - Jan-26-2011
A slice of onion placed on a bee or wasp sting will draw out the poison (after stinger has been scraped out).
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