By: Annet Preethi Furtado
April 24 2023
Though consuming onions has many health benefits, no scientific studies confirm the efficacy of the 'onion in a sock' remedy to cure colds or coughs.
A video circulating on Facebook is spreading unproven claims about the supposed benefits of raw onions. In the video, Barbara O'Neill, an Australian naturopath and health lecturer, suggests placing raw onions on the soles of the feet to treat illnesses like colds and coughs.
O'Neill claims that because the feet have the largest pores in the body, they can absorb the beneficial properties of the onion to where it needs them, such as in the chest or to alleviate congestion. However, there no medical research suggests that this is effective, and O’Neill’s credentials have been brought into question by Australian medical authorities.
Numerous TikTok videos also suggest using this remedy to alleviate symptoms of cold or cough, making it a popular trend on the platform.
Claims that placing onions on the soles of the feet can effectively alleviate cold or cough symptoms due to larger pores in that area are not supported by scientific evidence and consequently not endorsed by medical professionals.
Onions are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, making them a beneficial addition to a healthy diet.
Joe Schwarcz, Director of McGill University Office for Science and Society, told Logically Facts, ''This is total nonsense. Onions do not cure colds whether you put them in your socks, mouth, or any other body orifice.''
Dr. Jen Caudle, Family Physician and Associate Professor at Rowan University, told Logically Facts that she published a video about this claim in December 2022. In the clip, Dr. Caudle debunked the claims associated with onion sock therapy, including the notion that it can draw out toxins and cure colds. She stated, "Just by putting onions in your socks and sleeping with it etc, they aren't gonna draw out toxins or make you less sick."
Speaking to Logically Facts, Dr. Suranjit Chatterjee, Senior Consultant in Internal Medicine at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in Delhi, stated that there are no studies that have shown that placing onions at the bottom of the feet can cure a cold or cough. ''We have standard studies to show all benefits and side effects of all treatments. But as far as I'm concerned, I don't have any studies to support this claim," he said.
The idea likely originated from the concept of reflexology, according to Medical News Today. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support reflexology claims. Two studies published on Science Direct and PubMed, online hubs for academic research, concluded that there is currently inadequate evidence to justify the therapeutic use of reflexology.
Furthermore, O'Neill is identified as an "unregistered practitioner" in a public statement issued by the Health Care Complaints Commission of New South Wales, Australia, in 2019. The commission found that O'Neill poses a risk to the health or safety of members of the public and permanently prohibited her from providing any health services. O'Neill frequently makes questionable and unsafe health assertions regarding infant nutrition, cancer causes and treatment, and vaccinations, which are not based on evidence or supported by mainstream medicine.
There is no medical evidence to support the claim that placing raw onions on the soles of the feet can specifically target the chest or alleviate congestion. This claim is a myth and is a common folk remedy that lacks scientific credibility.