The onion has been cultivated as a medicinal, spice, and vegetable plant for approximately 5000 years.
In ancient Egypt, onions were offerings to the gods and given to the deceased as food for the afterlife. With the Romans, they were one of the staple foods for ordinary people.
To this day, onion is also used as a traditional home remedy for coughs, insect bites, scars, and earaches.
Its pulp and juice also have an antibacterial effect, helping to reduce blood pressure, fat levels, and blood sugar. In addition to the antioxidant compounds in onion, it also has anticoagulant and anti-asthmatic properties.
Onion benefits for digestion
The onion or “Allium Cepa” is used both for plant species and for its special storage organ, which is also made up of other plants.
A kitchen white onion produces only one renewal sprout, whereas with wild onions there are many smaller sprouts. In contrast, shallots have various shoots as useful plants from which daughter onions grow.
Only one species related to onion is known, Allium vavilovii, which is native to Turkmenistan and Iran. Allium species are characterized by the fact that they do not contain starch.
The typical carbohydrate reserve of all onions is rather fructans (water-soluble oligosaccharides and polysaccharides). This explains the special effect of Allium cepa on the human digestive system.
Fructans do not break down in the small intestine and therefore enter the large intestine without being digested. There, they are broken down by bacteria, creating chemical gases. These have a very special smell, they are made up of the gaseous decomposition products and components of onions that contain sulfur.
In particular, the sulfur-containing substance isoalliin, an amino acid in cell plasma, ensures the odor emanating from the onion and eye irritation when opened. If the cell structure is damaged, for example with a knife, this amino acid is transformed until the propane-S oxide is formed, which irritates the mucous membranes.
If this connection enters the eyes when the onion is cut by splashing or evaporation, the formation of tears is immediately stimulated.
The use of sharp knives minimizes cell injury and, therefore, “crying” when peeling onions because less acid escapes.
A brief cooling of the onion in the refrigerator also limits the effect of watering. The plant’s ingredients also lead to a pink discoloration when cut.
This results from the reactions of amino acids with sulfur compounds. The green coloring of garlic follows a similar pattern. These dyes have no harmful effects on health.
Due to its healing and cleansing properties, onion was even chosen as the 2015 medicinal plant.
Its juice has been used for generations to relieve external insect bites, open wounds, boils, and bruises. The white onion was already known in ancient Greece for its anticoagulant benefits.
Roman gladiators are said to have rubbed their muscles before fighting with onion juice.
As a proven home remedy, white onion has many other uses today. Its vapors can be used to inhale, helping against asthma, bronchitis, colds, flu, sore throat, and runny nose.
To do this, simply cut a white onion into small cubes and boil it with enough water (about two liters). Onion juice or syrup alleviates the effects of the bladder and urinary tract infections and constipation.
Rheumatic complaints can also be dealt with it externally.
The onion syrup is specifically good for coughs and can be done in a few simple steps.
To do this, boil 500 grams of finely chopped white onion with 350 grams of cane sugar and 100 grams of honey in half a liter of water with constant stirring until the mixture is viscous. You can take four to five teaspoons a day until the cough disappears.
It can also be used in case of a sore throat, ear, and bladder infections. For this popular recipe, enough onions are cut and wrapped in a cotton cloth. Then it is heated with steam and placed on the painful area of the body.
Let it act for half an hour. The cloth can be heated again at any time and can be used up to three times a day to relieve pain.
Benefits for cell growth
Red onion is particularly rich in valuable ingredients, as it can intensify both internal and external healing effects. Red onion has an above-average amount of antioxidants that are important for cellular health.
These are chemical compounds that weaken or prevent harmful oxidations in the body. For example, antioxidants have strong effects against so-called free radicals.
These in turn are oxygen-containing molecules that lack an electron that they want to replace. They are looking for suitable chemical compounds to harm them.
They often find the missing electron in the molecules of the cell membrane, which considerably weakens them and severely impairs the resistance of the entire cell.
Free radicals also damage DNA, which can also cause cancer and negatively impact the transmission of genetic information. Free radicals are also known to inactivate vital enzymes and hinder the formation of the body’s own proteins.
Red onion to lose weight
Even a red onion is particularly important for weight loss. It has been shown to strengthen the accumulation of the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine in the human body, which also has an antioxidant effect.
At the same time, red onion activates the formation of organic acid taurine. This signals the pituitary gland to release more hormones for fat loss. Three to four pieces of red onion per week successfully reduce excess body weight.
The best way to do this is to eat the raw onions.