Will Sleeping With Onions in Your Socks Really Help Get Rid of a Cold? Here Are 5 Things We Found Out About This Weird Treatment

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09: A selection of large onions are displayed at the RHS (Royal Horticultural Show) London Harvest Festival Show on October 9, 2012 in London, England. Growers from across the UK come together for the show at the RHS Horticultural Halls in Westminster to exhibit their seasonable bounty in the annual fruit and vegetable competition. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Source: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Rumor has it, sleeping with onions in your socks (or at least having them surrounding you) helps alleviate the flu. Tis' the season to get sick like a billion times and be miserable constantly, so it would be good to know whether this trick is merely an urban legend, or a tried and tested strategy. While I haven't tried the remedy out myself, I dug around the Internet to see if I could find some morsels of the truth at the core of this plan. Here's what the world wide web had to offer: 

1. Many sites claim that onions are their go-to for "extreme cases of illness." One writer talks about slicing up a combination of garlic and onion, and using olive oil, rubbing the veggies on her feet and wrapping them with plastic cling wrap before going to bed. According to her, "Onions and garlic have been shown to pull toxins and help the body heal. Some natural practitioners even claim that having cut onions around will absorb toxins and keep other sin the family from getting sick." OK. So we still don't know how SCIENCE feels about this strategy, but at least it does appear that people are actually doing it.

2. According to Healthy Bliss, this onion trick has been successfully used since the early 1900s and helped fight off the plague. Ayurvedic medicine utilizes the onion to cure colds and coughs since the dawn of time. What makes onions so potent? Apparently, it's their sulfuric compounds which act as mighty detox elements that help rid the body of toxins. Also, "the onion is the richest dietary source of quercitin, a powerful antioxidant flavonoid that has been shown to thin the blood, fight asthma, chronic bronchitis, hay fever [and more]." Additionally, onions are a natural anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and antiviral. Furthermore, Healthy Bliss actually tried the onion sock remedy, and it worked. After spending the night with onions in her socks, the blogger woke up with heartburn, but felt better overall; her hay fever and allergy symptoms have "disappeared overnight." 

3. Global Healing Center suggests that more and more people are on board with onions, including "modern scientists to naturopathic doctors." 

4. However, according to myth-busting Snopes, onions really aren't that special: "There's no medical magic to placing peeled or cut onions around the home: they don't act as sponges that soak up whatever viruses or other nasty microbes are in their immediate vicinity," Snopes claims. Additionally, there is no actual scientific evidence backing this remedy. 

5. Other sites warns people to be skeptical about the miraculous properties of onions. About.com asserts, "While it's true that eating onions has some proven health benefits, onions are not, contrary to what's claimed, 'germ magnets' capable of absorbing toxins and bacteria from the body or surrounding environment." Bummer.

Verdict? Onions are probably not a good substitute for Tylenol, antibiotics, a well-balanced diet, and sleep—however, it doesn't really hurt to stick some slices of onions in your socks, either. You do you, boo. 



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