Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Medicinal Value of Onions

Onions on a neutral, mostly white background
Image via Wikipedia

At garden club the other night, we each went around and told our favorite “herbal remedy“.  That night, I found the following in my inbox – one of those timely emails that one of the members  just had to share (and rightly so).  I think you’ll find it as fascinating as I did.   If it is an urban myth, don’t tell me.  I like this version so very much.


In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people, there was a
Doctor who visited many farmers to see if he could help them
combat the flu.  Many of the farmers and their family
had contracted it, and many died.
The doctor came upon
one farmer, and to his surprise,  everyone in the
household was very healthy.  When the doctor asked what
the farmer was doing that was different, the wife replied
that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms
of the home (probably only two rooms back

The doctor couldn’t
believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and
place it under the microscope.  She gave him one, and
when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the
onion.  It obviously absorbed the
bacteria, therefore, keeping the family

Now, I heard this story from my hairdresser in AZ.  She said that
several years ago many of her employees were coming down
with the flu and so were many of her customers. The next
year she placed several bowls with onions around in her
shop.  To her surprise, none of her staff got
sick.  It must work… (And no, she is not in the onion

The moral of the story is, buy some onions and place them in bowls around
your home.  If you work at a desk, place one or two in
your office or under your desk or even on top
somewhere.  Try it and see what happens.  We did
it last year, and we never  got the flu. If this
helps you and your loved ones from getting sick, all the
better.  If you do get the flu, it just might be a mild
case….Whatever, what have you to lose?  Just a few
bucks on onions!!!

Now there is a P.S. to this, for I sent it to a friend in  Oregon who
regularly contributes material to me on health
issues..  She replied with this most interesting
experience about onions:  Thanks for the reminder. I
don’t know about the farmer’s story….but I do know that I
contracted pneumonia, and needless to say I was very
ill.  I came across an article that said to cut both
ends off an onion.  Put one end on a fork, and then
place the forked end into an empty jar…placing the jar
next to the sick patient at night.  It said the onion
would be black in the morning from the germs.  Sure
enough, it happened just like that…the onion was a mess,
and I began to feel better.

Another thing I read in the article was that onions and garlic placed around
the room saved many from the black plague years ago.
They have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic

This is the other note:
which has been left in the fridge.  Sometimes I don’t
use a whole one at one time, so I save the other half for
later.  Now with this info, I have changed my
mind.  I will buy smaller onions in the

I had the wonderful privilege of touring Mullins Food Products, makers of
mayonnaise.  Mullins is huge, and is owned by 11
brothers and sisters in the Mullins family. Questions
about food poisoning came up, and I wanted to
share what I learned from a chemist.  The guy who gave
us our tour is named Ed.  He’s one of the
brothers.  Ed is a chemistry expert and is involved in
developing most of the sauce formula.  He’s even
developed sauce formula for McDonald’s.  Keep in mind
that Ed is a food chemistry whiz.

During the tour, someone asked if we really needed to worry about
mayonnaise.  People are always worried that mayonnaise
will spoil.  Ed’s answer will surprise you.  Ed
said that all commercially-made mayo is completely
safe.  “It doesn’t even have to be refrigerated.
No harm in refrigerating it, but it’s not really
necessary.”  He explained that the pH in mayonnaise is
set at a point that bacteria could not survive in that
environment.  He then talked about the quintessential
picnic, with the bowl of potato salad sitting on
the table and how everyone blames the mayonnaise when
someone gets sick.

Ed says that when food poisoning is reported, the first thing
the officials look for is when the ‘victim’ last ate ONIONS
and where those onions came from (in the potato
salad?).  Ed says it’s not the mayonnaise (as long as
it’s not homemade mayo) that spoils in the outdoors.
It’s probably the onions, and if not the onions, it’s the

He explained, onions are a huge magnet for bacteria, especially uncooked
onions..  You should never plan to keep a portion of a
sliced onion.  He says it’s not even safe if you put it
in a zip-lock bag and put it in your
It’s already contaminated enough just
by being cut open and out for a bit, that it can be a danger
to you (and doubly watch out for those onions
you put on your hotdogs at the baseball

Ed says if you take the leftover onion and cook it like crazy you’ll probably be
okay, but if you slice that leftover onion and put it on
your sandwich, you’re asking for trouble.  Both the
onions and the moist potato in a potato salad will attract
and grow bacteria faster than any commercial mayonnaise will
even begin to break down.

So, how’s that for news?  Take it for what you will.  I (the author)
am going to be very careful about my onions from now
on.  For some reason, I see a lot of credibility coming
from a chemist and a company that produces millions of
pounds of mayonnaise every year.

Also, dogs should never eat onions.  Their stomachs cannot metabolize

Please remember it is dangerous to cut onions and try to use it to
cook the next day.  It becomes highly poisonous for
even a single night and creates toxic bacteria which may
cause adverse stomach infections because of excess bile
secretions and even food poisoning.

  1. Well, you asked not to be informed about the first part, so I won’t say anything about that, ahem.

    BUT! No saving onions? Sheesh.

    That one’s been going around for a while.

    Fact is, folks, if you wash your hands before handling food and in between actions (say, between meat and veggies), use clean tools and cook or refrigerate items immediately to a temperature above 140 degrees F, not much is gonna get you.

    Potato salad that’s sat out all day at a picnic shouldn’t really be saved anyway because the high moisture content is, yes, a breeding ground for bacterial baddies and anything cooked-food-wise sitting out 5 hours between 40 and 140 degrees should be considered no longer edible. Keep the potato salad in a cooler stocked with ice and you cut your risk tremendously.

    Food Safety & Sanitation class was a real eye-opener and I still have the book for it–there’s all sorts of baddies you never hear about in, on and around your food and most of it comes down to poor handling processes. Just be safe and clean and you have very little to worry about.

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