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Onions on Feet or In Sock for Flu, Colds, Detox, and Infections – Does It Work?

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Onions on Feet or In Sock for Flu, Colds, Detox, and Infection

Many people put a raw onion in their sock or on their feet to help get rid of a cold or the flu. It is claimed that onions on your feet help to draw out infections and toxins from the body. Onions have many health benefits, but, is there scientific evidence to back up claims that raw onions inside a sock can cure a cold or the flu?

Coming down with a cold or having the flu can make you feel awful. You might feel so bad that you are ready to try almost anything to alleviate your coughing, blocked sinuses, fever, and get rid of the infection. There are certainly many effective home remedies to treat infections including colds and flu. Should you be putting raw onions on the bottom of your feet or in your sock as a natural remedy for infections?


In this article, I will look at the origins of why people put an onion poultice on their feet. I will also look at what research says about putting onion on your feet. You will also find some helpful recipes if you want to try this remedy and sleep with onions in your socks to draw infections.

Onions on Feet and In Sock: What’s the Origin of the Home Remedy?

Over the centuries, it has been claimed that onions can help treat and prevent diseases like smallpox, influenza, bubonic plague, and other infectious diseases. There are also people who like to use onions to clean the air, remove toxins, and destroy air-borne toxins and germs. in this way, healers believed that onions could be useful for treating all manner of ailments.

However, I was unable to find any research to support the claims that onions can detox the air and kill airborne bacteria. Although onions may not help to clean the air and destroy air-borne toxins and germs, they still have tremendous health benefits when used as food.1

Health benefits of consuming onions

Here is what science says about many of the health benefits of incorporating more onions in your diet.

Onions have anti-bacterial activity. A study from 2017 found that onion extracts have antibacterial activity against many strains of bacteria. Onions that were stored for at least 3 months showed the strongest antimicrobial activity.2

Eliminate toxins. Onions also contain phenols which are natural antioxidants. The journal Food Chemistry reported that many varieties of onion, including red onion, kill off free radicals and protect against DNA damage.3


Strengthen immune system. Onions also contain compounds (e.g., Allium cepa) that have been shown to strengthen immunity. A scientific study in 2007 on onion and garlic extracts found that they are some of the most effective medicinal spices to boost the immune system. Onions contain about 25 active therapeutic compounds.4

What’s the reason for putting onion on feet?

The reason for putting onion on your feet to cure a cold or detox your body seems to originate in foot reflexology.

The Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine says that there is anecdotal evidence of the positive effect reflexology has in a variety of health conditions. The report states that applying various therapeutic remedies to the feet can help to tackle various symptoms of disease. The report says that reflexology is used to remove toxins from the body as well as increase circulation and boost energy levels.5

Many people believe that the health benefits of onions and the effects of reflexology combine to help to improve your health. Possibly, the beneficial nutrients of raw onion placed on the feet can help to draw out infections, kill toxins, and contribute to a better health.

However, I was unable to find any scientific backup to these claims and there is nothing to suggest that sleeping with onions in your socks has any therapeutic benefit. There is also no scientific evidence that you can detox your body by placing onions on your feet. In that respect, Dr. Brent Bauer from the Mayo Clinic says that there is no evidence to suggest that detox foot pads work to draw toxins from the body.6

Although science doesn’t backup the claims, a lot of people like to use onion on feet as a folk remedy or traditional home remedy for various illnesses. There is also anecdotal evidence that this home remedy could actually work, so why not give it a try?

Let’s look at the many uses of onions on feet or in sock.

How to Detox with Onion on Feet

Despite the lack of scientific evidence, there is anecdotal evidence about the effectiveness of putting onions on your feet to detox your body. Although your liver and kidneys play an important role in getting rid of toxins from your body, studies have shown that certain toxins are eliminated through the skin.7

Using onions on your feet to remove toxins is claimed to be an effective way to cheaply make your own foot detox pad.

How to use onions under your feet for detox:

  1. Slice a red or white onion into a few thick slices about ½ inch thick.
  2. Place in a pair of tight-fitting socks.
  3. Put the onion in the socks, making sure the onions are tight against the bottom of your feet.
  4. Leave for a few hours to draw toxins from your body.

There are many more effective ways to detox your body naturally. For example, apple cider vinegar can be used as a detox drink or you can take a bath with detoxifying properties.

Onion Slices in Sock for Curing Cold, Flu, and Congestion

There is some anecdotal evidence pointing to the fact that sliced onions can help to kill off germs that cause colds, the flu, and blocked sinuses. Some people claim that cutting onions in half and leaving them around the home can help to eliminate germs.

It is possible that the antiviral and antibacterial properties of onions are the reason why people say that onions in a sock can cure symptoms of colds or other respiratory infections.

If you want to try and see if onion slices can help you in treating cold, flu and congestion, simply put a few slices of onion on your feet, secure with your socks and leave it overnight.

If you don’t like the idea of using onions on your feet for congestion, you can try some of my natural home remedies for congestion.

Onion Slices in Sock as Remedy for Fever

Many people put a few slices of red or white onion in their socks before going to bed to help break a fever. The claim is that onions help to improve circulation by stimulating areas on the feet to increase blood flow which may help you recover faster.

Using onion slices in a sock as a home remedy has some anecdotal evidence, however, these haven’t been proved by scientific research. But, again – if you want to try this folk remedy, leave the sliced onions on your feet for a few hours and see if it works for you.

You can find out more conventional ways to reduce your fever naturally in my article on how to break a fever: the top 5 natural ways.

How to Use Onions to Draw Out Infections

Poultices have been used for centuries and are still used today to draw out infections from wound boils, or skin abscesses. Placing an onion poultice could help to draw pus out from the skin wound and also kill off harmful microbes in the process.

The International Journal of Current Research reported that extracts of various onions have strong antibacterial activity. Fresh onion juice was able to kill off various Staph infections and is even effective against multidrug-resistant bacteria. The study also pointed to the antibacterial properties of ginger as well. 8

To use onion to draw out an infection from a wound, you should make an onion poultice and apply to the infected skin area for 1-2 hours at a time.

How to make an onion poultice for infections

Here is how to make your own antibacterial onion poultice at home to help destroy infections in wounds.

  1. Chop 2 large onions (can be any color of onion for the poultice recipe) and grate a 2-inch piece of ginger.
  2. Gently steam the mixture until the onions and ginger are soft and lightly cooked (putting them raw will irritate the skin).
  3. Put the onion and ginger mixture in a clean gauze, wrap, and secure.
  4. Hold the onion poultice on the infected wound and leave for 1-2 hours to help pull out the infection. If you have a sensitive skin, you can apply a little bit of coconut oil on the affected area so the oils from the onion and ginger don’t irritate the skin.
  5. Rinse the area with salt water and gently dry.
  6. Use for 24 hours to help reduce signs of infection like inflammation, redness, and pus.

If you notice that the infection doesn’t start to heal, you should visit your doctor.

Onion in Socks to Pull Out Sickness – does it Work?

Claims by many people seem to indicate that there is at least some anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of using onions on feet to pull out sickness.

For example, some people say that after rubbing onions on their feet or sleeping with onions in their socks, they can taste onion in their mouth. It is assumed that the antibacterial properties of onions are absorbed in the soles of your feet and enter the bloodstream. This, it is said, has a beneficial role in drawing out illness and killing of germs in your body.

However, there are no scientific studies to prove or disprove the claims that leaving onions in your socks overnight pulls out sickness.

Related: How use Potato on Feet for Detox, Cold, Flu and Infections

Other Home Remedies and Health Benefits of Using Raw Onion

There are many other ways to use onions for their therapeutic properties. The journal Phytother Research reported that onions are one of the most important crops in the world. Some of the reported health benefits include:9

  • Antioxidant activity to destroy free radicals
  • Protecting against various blood disorders
  • Onions have anticarcinogenic properties
  • Onions have cardiovascular benefits
  • Help resolve respiratory conditions
  • They have an antibiotic effect

Cardiovascular benefits

Onions have many cardiovascular benefits that include lowering fat levels in blood and improving blood circulation.

According to the journal Plants Foods for Human Nutrition, onions help to keep the blood healthy. In one study, increasing the number of onions in the diet helped to lower lipids in blood plasma. The study concluded that consuming onions has positive health benefits in a high-fat diet.10


Onions are just one of the foods that you need for a healthy heart. As well as onions, you should also enjoy a well-balanced diet containing fiber, essential nutrients, and healthy oils like olive oil, nuts and seeds.

Regulates blood sugar

Including more red, yellow, or white onions in your diet can help to reduce blood sugar spikes after finishing a meal.

The International Journal of Molecular Sciences reports that compounds in onions like quercetin help to balance blood sugar levels. It was found that the blood sugar lowering effect of onion extracts was as effective as some type 2 diabetes drugs. This happened because onions helped to delay carbohydrate absorption.11

Other foods and spices that can help protect against type 2 diabetes include turmeric, ginger, garlic, and apple cider vinegar.

Helps protect against cancer

Foods like onions, leeks, and garlic can also help prevent various types of cancer. Onions contain sulfur compounds which have been linked to the prevention of tumors and precancerous cells.

The journal Cancer Prevention Research reported on studies into the anti-cancer properties of onions. Researchers have found that there is a link between increased intake of onions and decreased link of certain cancers. Among the types of cancers mention in the study were:12

  • Stomach cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Prostate cancer

Of course, more research needs to be done on how to use onions therapeutically to prevent cancer. However, it is easy for all of us to include more onions in our diets to enjoy their many health benefits.

Assists with digestion

If you have problems with your digestion, increasing the number of onions you consume can help to improve your digestive health.

According to the journal Nutrients, onions are among the foods high in prebiotics.14 Prebiotics are necessary to ensure there is a healthy microflora in the gut to help the intestines digest food and absorb nutrients. The study recommended that individuals consume foods like onions which are high in prebiotics as well as foods that contain probiotics.

Can help hair regrow

One way that you can use onions is to help treat hair loss and boost hair growth.

The Journal of Dermatology reported that onion juice can be used as a natural treatment for alopecia (hair loss). The small study found that simple onion juice helped boost hair regrowth in over 70% of the patients in the study. The participants applied onion juice 2 times a day for 2 months and hair started to regrow after 2 weeks of treatment.13

How to use onion juice for hair regrowth:

  1. Peel one or two onions and chop into small bits.
  2. Use a juicer, blender, or food processor to extract the juice from the onions.
  3. Massage the onion hair remedy into your scalp paying attention to areas where hair is thinning.
  4. Leave for 15-20 minutes (longer if you can tolerate the smell) and wash out using a mild shampoo.
  5. Use the natural hair regrowth treatment daily and continue using until you see noticeable results.

If you apply onion juice to your scalp for the first time, test it on a small area first to make sure it does not irritate your skin. Otherwise mix it with a little bit of honey or water.

Read these related articles:

Medical Sources

  1. 2002 Nov;16(7):603-15.
  2. J Food Drug Analysis. 2017 Jul.
  3. Food Chem. 2007;102(4): 1389-1393.
  4. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2012; 9(3): 374–379.
  5. J Tradit Complement Med. 2015 Oct; 5(4): 197–206.
  6. MayoClinic. Do detox foot pads really work?
  7. J Environ Pub Health. 2012. 184745.
  8. Int J Cur Res. 2014 Sept;6(09): 8768-8776.
  9. Phytother Res.2002 Nov;16(7):603-15.
  10. Plant Foods Hum Nutr.2006 Dec;61(4):179-85.
  11. Int J Mol Sci. 2011; 12(6): 3757–3769.
  12. Cancer Prev Res. 2015 Mar;8(3):181-189.
  13. J Dermatol.2002 Jun;29(6):343-6.
  14. Nutrients. Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits
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One Response to Onions on Feet or In Sock for Flu, Colds, Detox, and Infections – Does It Work?

  1. Fallingwaters Barone says:

    Last night I had a fever of 102.1 and decided to try the onion thing. I got a couple of plastic bags placed slices of onion enough to cover all of my feet. Next I put socks over them to hold everything in place. this morning I woke up to normal temp. 98.6 and has been this way all of this morning it is now 12:43 and all is good. I am going to be doing this more often and put cut up pices in the corners of my rooms. WOW!

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