Hang the Onions: 5 Old-Fashioned Remedies to Help Cure the Common Cold
Colds: They happen Every Year
Every year, without fail, kids and parents get colds, stay home from school, and are generally miserable. The next steps are predictable: go to the drugstore, pick up some medication, and hope that it goes away. Well, I am not discouraging you from picking up some Tylenol cold medicine or classic Buckley's cough syrup, but if you're looking for something different, give these time-worn medical classics a try.
The five remedies from first to last, are: hang an onion in the room, use Vicks, harness the power of steam, drink "the tea," and get plenty of rest. These are all remedies that have been tried and tested in my home, and in my Mother's home before that. I hope that they are of some use to you and your family, and that your cold is gone is before you know it!
1. Hang an Onion
Take a white onion, cut it in half, and hang the cut onion in your bedroom. The smell of the onion permeates the room, and gets into your throat and nose. Anyone who has ever chopped up an onion has experienced their strong flavour that actually makes a person cry. Well, hanging up the half-chopped onion harnesses that power.
The best bag to use is the netted bag that onions usually come in. My Mom passed this ancient secret unto me, and now my once skeptical husband swears by it. My stepson thinks it's a bit creepy, but he's a teenager, and they are embarrassed by practically anything. This one might sound kind of weird, but it really does seem to help to clear our sinuses.
Not surprisingly, there is a scientific reason behind the onion cure. The answer as to why hanging an onion seems to work is kind of complex. For one, it has a good percentage of Vitamin C (17% of your daily recommended amount) which is a known cold-fighter.
As well, It has an unusually high concentration of flavonoids, which seem to work to improve your immune system andl help make you stronger to fight the cold yourself. The interesting part is that one study found these flavanoids main strength was in the outer layers of the vegetable, which means you don't want to peel your onion much before hanging it.
Update: I just received some additional information from my Grandma. I spoke to her a couple of months ago and she said that does the onion trick but she cuts into several pieces and places it on a plate. I tried this and it really seems to help, too. The main thing is that the onion has a chance to cut through your congestion.
2. Use Vicks VapoRub
Rub Vicks VapoRub, or a generic substitute, and rub it unto your chest and back. Okay, first the disclaimer. Don't use this product for children under the age of two, and be sure to supervise children under six with it, because it can be poisonous if swallowed. Checking the Vicks website, though, I see that Vicks now has a product for babies called "Baby Rub," suitable for babies, that has the same effect.
That said, this is a great old-fashioned way to loosen up congestion, and sooth your sore throat. How does it work? Well, the active ingredients are menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus oil, all of which are natural ingredients that help to break up a cold. Camphor is also used for muscle ointments, and is responsible for the cooling and then heating effect of Vicks VapoRub.
3. Use Steam Power
Steam is a powerful way to help sooth your troubled sinuses and congestion. Here a couple of ways you can harness this natural force of nature to help get you or your loved ones feeling better.
1. Steam Bath: Boil enough water to fill a bowl, put in healing ingredients, cover the bowl with a towel, and breath in for 10-15 minutes.
There are a couple of products good for using in a steamer: one is from Vicks, called Vaposteam, and is similar to the old standby, VapoRub, but is safer to use for steam, because it won't spill out and hurt someone. Another option straight from your kitchen cupboard is to use the spice, thyme. This a known expectorant, and helps to clear up congestion. Another couple of options are putting cayenne pepper or parsley into the water.
2. Buy a vaporizer. The advantage of buying a vaporizer is that you can have steam going into your nostrils and mouth while you rest. Follow the instructions on the steamer carefully, and use only as directed. Be sure to place the steamer in a safe spot where it cannot be knocked over by pets or children. These are wonderful, and work very well in a quiet room where the sick person is resting. The steam not only helps physically, but also is very calming and can help the patient to calm his mind.
4. Make "The Tea"
Make up some of this tea, which works wonders for soothing the throat, and helping to calm down the agitated coughing throat.
Recipe for "The Tea"
- 3 cups of water
- 1 tea bag
- 2 Tbsp lemon (real lemon is best, but concentrate also works)
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tsp cayenne pepper
- Boil water.
- Add tea bag and let steep in pot for five minutes or more.
- Add other ingredients. Adjust according to taste. Let steep for another five minutes.
This is a well-known formula for colds and works because of the combination of lemon (an excellent source of Vitamin C), honey (a natural cough suppressant), cayenne (which works to break up congestion), and tea (which is naturally soothing and contains flavonoids)
Whenever anyone in my family, has a hint of a cold, this tea comes on, and is drunk for a few days until the cold goes away. It usually works, in combination with the other cures, and definitely helps to calm down coughing, sooth the sore throat, and calm down a runny nose.
Sleep as much as you possibly can, including missing a day or two of work, if possible.
Sleep is one of the best things you can do for your body when your immune system is broken down. It helps everything heal, and helps your body to recover. I have often found that a day off at the beginning of an illness helps to stop it before it gets worse. If you take that day off, use it to sleep, and not get caught up on housework, and odd jobs. Colds come because our immune system is damaged, often stretched too far from our busy lifestyles. Catching up on sleep isn't just a nice fantasy; it's a necessity.
Resources for Food Cures
- World's Healthiest Foods
Excellent resource of some of the world's healthiest foods, including honey, onions, and cayenne pepper.
- Cinnamon, Ginger and Onions Strongly Protect Us from Colds and Flu
Article on how ancient Eastern medicine uses common herbs to help with common ailments.
There you have it: five old-fashioned ways to cure the common cold, straight from my home to yours. And as science does more research into nutrition and the way food works to help us stay healthy, we can start to see that "old-fashioned" is actually the latest thing!