Can Onions Really Cure a Cough?

Sarah Cottrell
5 min readDec 5, 2022

This season has been terrible for respiratory infections, especially in kids. If you or your family are dealing with sore throats and harsh coughs, try onions to help soothe symptoms. This unassuming bulb is a superfood that can do incredible things in the human body.

If you’ve seen a lot of talk about onion water online recently, it could be because TikTokers and Instagram lifestyle folks are rediscovering the ancient power of the humble onion to cure what ails you. Onions have been used medicinally for over 5,000 years — at least, as far back as historians can currently trace their use.

Read on to learn more about what’s inside an onion that makes it so powerful, plus three recipes for using onions to help you feel better, including onion water, onion tea, and onion cough syrup.

What Is Inside an Onion?

There is an old saying that food is medicine, and onions are probably one of the first foods to be used as such. That could be because onions are nutrient-dense with elements that can help a sick person heal. Here is a running list of how amazing the eye-watering onion is:

Nutrition profile

Raw onions contain around 40 calories for every 3.5 ounces. In their natural state, they are roughly 89% water, 9% carbohydrate, and 1.7% mix of fiber, protein, and fat, which is an integral part of the onion because raw onions contain a type of fiber that can boost gut health by feeding good bacteria.

That fiber is an interesting piece of the onion puzzle because it is a soluble fiber called fructan, which feeds your good gut bacteria and creates short-chain fatty acids that can do all kinds of amazing things. For example, eating foods high in fructans, like our humble onion, can contribute to colon health, including reducing the risk of colon cancer. But for my purposes, with this nasty cough, fructans can help reduce inflammation, which is what is causing my lungs to feel like they will burst.

Vitamins, nutrients, and other compounds

Onions, especially red and yellow onions, are high in antioxidants, but only in their raw state. Once you cook them down, their nutrition profile changes, and you may lose a lot of the antioxidant magic.

Here are some other highlights of vitamins, nutrients, and other compounds:

  • Vitamin C is an antioxidant that…



Sarah Cottrell

Writer + Editor | Slow Living + Science Nerd | Rep’d by Folio Lit | Follow my stories here: