Onion helps colour the hair and foster hair growth

onion.jpg (18017 bytes)by Namini Wijedasa
Onion juice has the ability to increase vision and relieve ear-ache. For increased vision, mix juice with bee’s honey and apply on eye-lids. For ear-ache, put a few drops of hot onion juice on ear or cut a red onion in half and plug affected organ

Bombay onion is identified botanically as Allium cepa while red onion is called Allium rubrum. The former is known as Bukhadusana (having bad smell in the mouth and the latter as Palandu (protecting body from diseases) in Sanskrit. These are the two common varieties, though there is also another kind with a large, yellowish-white bulb.

Onions alleviate vatha and kapha but increase pitta. It is a highly nutritive, energy-giving food, as well as a good medicinal herb. It is a good appetiser, anti-flatulent, antiseptic, antipyretic, aphrodisiac, tissue-building cardiac tonic. Chewing on raw onions has proved efficacious in cases of spongy and bleeding gums, and for inflamed sore throats. It is a recommended tonic and medicine for menstrual disorders in females, and increases the amount of healthy sperm in males. Onion strengthens the heart muscles and promotes circulation within the heart, preventing and curing ischaemic conditions.

According to the Web site <www.hinduismtoday.com> both garlic and onion have been used for centuries as food and medicine. They help increase digestive secretions, promote proper fat metabolism, and aid in liver detoxification. It specifies that though they have similar action, garlic is much more potent than onion. Both help relieve abscesses, asthma, atherosclerosis, coughs, diabetes, digestive disorders, dysentery, ear-aches, haemorrhoids, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hysteria, inflammation and parasitic conditions.

Dosage: A medium sized raw onion can be chopped and eaten as a salad with lemon juice. Also, 10-30 cc of raw onion juice can be mixed with honey. This is an especially helpful remedy for asthma. Onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon twice a day, can also be taken. Meanwhile, cooked onion is particularly good for vatha people.

The site warns, however, that neither onions nor garlic should be consumed by those with gall bladder problems or kidney stones. "These foods have a contracting action and could increase the pain caused by such conditions," it explains.

According to Dr. Lakshmi Senaratne, chief scientist (Ayurveda) at the Bandaranaike Memorial Ayurveda Research Institute, onion is used externally to reduce pain, oedema, fat, boils and skin disease. The juice has the ability to increase vision and relieve ear-ache. For increased vision, mix juice with bee’s honey and apply on eye-lids. For ear-ache, put a few drops of hot onion juice on ear or cut a red onion in half and plug affected organ.

Internally, says Senaratne, onion reduces pain, increases appetite, is laxative and stimulates the liver. She cautions, however, that too much onion is not good for the brain. "It is referred to as amedhya in effect," she noted. "This means that it reduces brain capacity."

The large variety stems bleeding. Red onion is expectorant, increases urine output and sperm count. In some parts of the country, particularly in the north, a tablespoon of red onion is taken with meals to increase virility, Senaratne said. It is effective in sperm disorders and is used in cures for impotency.

So valuable is onion in Ayurveda that the late Seela Fernando has dedicated an entire chapter to the herb in her book "Herbal Food and Medicines in Sri Lanka." She observes that onion is a diuretic and vermifuge (expels worms from the body), emollient (having softening and soothing effect) and antiseptic.

Fernando says that onions have been considered a contributing factor in longevity. "The Bulgarians are known as great eaters of onions and it is believed that they have a good record as centenarians," she explains.

Onion helps colour the hair and foster hair growth. It has been recommended in old Ayurveda texts for obesity — fat people were advised to eat raw onions.

Fernando explains that onions give the best results when eaten raw because cooking partially destroys active properties contained in a highly volatile oil. "Their raw juice is an irritant, but onions should be eaten raw as often as possible, in salads or added (chopped finely) to soups and vegetables," she recommends, adding that drinking a cup of mild after rinsing the mouth well with cold water helps rid the breath of onion smell.

For general health, Fernando has two preparations: Take four medium size onions, sliced. Pour one cup of hot water, leave to macerate for two or three hours. Strain and drink two or three times a day, before meals. Secondly, grate one or two onions as finely as possible. Mix together with a spoonful of bee’s honey, and take two to three times a day. In the West, she says, the same preparation is taken with a glass of wine.

For anaemia, exhaustion, bronchial complaints, flatulence, dropsy, urinary infections, arthritis, rheumatism, diabetes and gravel retention in urine: Macerate 100 grams of finely-chopped onions in a litre of pure coconut arrack for 48 hours; press and strain through a fine cloth and drink two tablespoons in the mornings on an empty stomach for eight or ten consecutive days, preferably when the moon is on the wane or at the time of the new moon. This also lowers blood sugar levels.

Fernando continues that onions are a useful remedy for coughs and bronchitis. Cut three to six onions, put into a pint of water, boil for five to ten minutes, strain and sweeten with honey. Drink five to six times a day, three tablespoons at a time.

They can also be prepared as a cough syrup: Boil quarter pound of chopped onions in half a bottle of water for five to ten minutes, strain, add 10 tablespoons of sugar and boil gently until it is of a thick syrup consistency. Dose: two to six tablespoons a day.

Fernando prescribes eating onions baked in hot ashes and mixed with ghee or butter for hoarseness in the throat. For those inflicted with bleeding or non-bleeding haemorrhoids, eating raw onions either daily with food or chopped onions mixed with ghee or sugar is most helpful. Raw onions eaten with food also relieves constipation.

For catarrh: Prepare a decoction of red onions, pitawakka (Phyllanthus debilis), gotukola and hingurupiyali, three kalandas each. Boil in three cups of water and simmer to one. Dose is a quarter cup at a time, taken three times a day.

As an aphrodisiac: Steam a few onions, squeeze and extract the juice (half-a-cup), add two tablespoons of ghee. Drink daily on an empty stomach.

Fernando says that red onions corrects menstrual disorders. Remember to eat raw onions a few days before your period.

Eating raw red onions with your dinner induces sound sleep. Meanwhile, a crushed onion held to the nose has the same effect as smelling salts during a fainting fit.

Externally, grated raw onions applied as a poultice is a prescribed remedy for arthritic and rheumatic pains, burns and migraine. Place on the forehead for the latter ailment. In retention of urine, place poultice on lower abdomen.

To remove freckles, apply crushed onions in vinegar daily on the face. This is specially effective in fangi skin or aluhan.

For ear-ache or buzzing in the ear, heat the onion juice and put few drops in ear. This juice can also soothe an acute toothache.

Fernando says that onions baked in hot ashes or in an oven and reduced to an ointment, mixed with ghee and applied very hot on abscesses helps to bring abscesses or boils to a head more quickly and relieve the pain.

Onions for an effective antidote for bee stings and as an aid for serpent bites, she describes. Crush the onions and rub briskly on affected spot.

The Web site <www.ayurveda.com/materiamedica> of the Ayurvedic Institute, Albuquerque, New Mexico, says that onion juice has anti-asthmatic, digestive, cardiac and antispasmodic qualities.

One home remedy for asthma: Give a solution of onion juice with one tablespoon of honey and 1/8 tablespoon of black pepper.

According to <www.holistic-online.com> onion has significant blood sugar lowering action. The principal active ingredients are believed to be allyl propyl disulphide (APDS) and diallyl disulphide oxide (allicin), although other constituents such as flavonoids may play a role as well. Experimental and clinical evidence suggests that APDS lowers glucose levels by competing with insulin for insulin-inactivating sites in the liver, the site elaborates. This results in an increase of free insulin. APDS administered in doses of 125 mg/ kg to fasting humans was found to cause a marked fall in blood glucose levels and an increase in serum insulin. Allicin doses of 100 mg/kg produced a similar effect.

It also says that onion extract was found to reduce blood sugar levels during oral and intravenous glucose tolerance. The effect improved as the dosage was increased; however, beneficial effects were observed even for low levels that used in the. The effects were similar in both raw and boiled onion extracts. Onions affect the hepatic metabolism of glucose and/or increases the release of insulin, and/or prevent insulin’s destruction.

"The additional benefit of the use of garlic and onions are their beneficial cardiovascular effects," the site adds. "They are found to lower lipid levels, inhibit platelet aggregation and are anti-hypertensive. So, liberal use of onion and garlic are recommended for diabetic patients."

For high blood pressure, mix juice of onion and pure honey in equal quantity. Two spoons of this mixture once a day is an effective remedy for high blood pressure. Take for about a week. Upon noticing improvement, take for few more days as needed.

Onion juice reduces cholesterol and works as a tonic for nervous system. It cleans blood, helps digestive system, cures insomnia and regulates the heart action.

As a home remedy for boils, apply hot paste of onion. For scars (such as those left behind after chicken pox or as a result of wounds) apply juice or paste. It can also be massaged into the skin.

For haemorrhoids and passing of blood with urine, crush together red onion and kohila, extract juice and administer.

For bleeding nose, eat red onion with salads or inhale fumes of onion during bleeding. The flow stops almost instantly.

Because of its ability to expel phlegm, onion is good for cough and sinusitis.

For disurea, eat onion curry or in raw form.