Some traditional home remedies made with common kitchen ingredients are simple, safe to use, and effective! This onion poultice is one such traditional remedy.
And it saved me from a lot of misery last week. After tiring myself out with Christmas celebrations, I succumbed to the awful virus going around in our community that is characterized by coughing, sinus pressure, and for some, aches and fevers. Because I am pregnant, I was unable to take most of the natural remedies I usually rely on when getting sick, and my case was by far the worse in the family (everyone else got mild versions of it). While I was thankful not to come down with a fever, I found the other symptoms overwhelming.
I haven’t had such a bad cough since high school.
But as I lay in bed trying to recover, and finding that my cough was getting progressively worse, I remembered a story from the fictional book Christy by Catherine Marshall. Deep in the Smoky Mountains away from medical care, she and another character saved the life of a young bride dying from some sort of cough and chest congestion using onion poultices. While I felt rather sheepish being so inspired by a dramatic, but fictional story, I looked up onion poultices and found that they are indeed a traditional remedy used for bad coughs, and are still favored by many today.
My husband made me one, and wow, what relief! For me, it seemed to help loosen things up so that my cough could become productive. Because our air is so dry right now, having the heat from the poultice be so moist also seemed incredibly soothing and helpful. Onions are known to have many healthful properties which could add to the possible benefits of using them in the poultice.
While, of course, you should consult your health care provider when sick and should ask them about home remedies, this may be a great, safe one to ask about!
Apparently it is also used for ear pressure (by placing behind the ear), headaches, etc. I am going to try it today on some of the sinus pressure I am still experiencing.
Thankfully, they are very easy to make.
Directions for making an onion poultice
Slice 2 peeled onions thinly. Steam for about 8 minutes, or until soft, in a steamer placed over a couple inches of water. Remove from pot, and pat dry in a clean kitchen towel, and then place in new clean kitchen towel. Wrap up like a burrito. As soon as it is cool enough to be placed on skin, place on the chest and leave until cool (Warning: While it should be hot, you could cause burns if you put it on your chest too soon, so make sure you test it out first). Some people also place on the back for coughs, depending on where it is most soothing. To reuse, simply re-steam the onion slices for a couple of minutes, and then wrap in a new kitchen towel.
Notes: Some have found success simply microwaving the onions until soft. We don’t have a microwave, so I was unable to test this out. Others add garlic and/or ginger to the mixture. While we didn’t have any problems, some report slight skin irritation from the onion juice seeping through the kitchen towel, so watch for that, or any other sort or reaction.