How to Make and Use an Onion Poultice for Congestion
In another family tale, when my Mother-in-Law, Mary, was only 5 years old, her life was seriously threatened from a severe case of double pneumonia. With no antibiotics available, her father had resigned himself to the fact that he might lose his precious daughter.
Mary tells the story of how her desperate father consulted with a band of gypsies that lived not far from their small town in Wales about what to do to save her life. The gypsy women told him to make an onion poultice and put it on her feet to draw the infection and congestion out of her lungs.
The onion poultice worked remarkably well! Mary, now a healthy Grandmum in her late 70’s, is still alive and well to tell the tale.
Home remedies such as this are enjoying a resurgence in popularity in lockstep with the worrisome rise of antibiotic resistant infections. In addition, parents are increasingly hesitant to use routine antibiotics due to the growing body of research that antibiotic damage to intestinal health lasts at least a year or two and possibly longer and can increase the risk of autoimmune disease.
Certainly, antibiotics should always be used for life threatening infections such as pneumonia. In less severe cases, however, a remedy such as an onion poultice can be used to draw out congestion from the lungs and facilitate healing instead of running to the doctor for meds. Using a remedy like an onion poultice can also be used to prevent the situation from worsening to the point where antibiotics are mandatory.
How to Make an Onion Poultice
Making an onion poultice is incredibly simple. It takes just a few supplies to quickly prepare one to use for chest congestion.
Frying pan (I like these)
White dishtowel or flour sack cloth (I use these)
2 organic onions
1/4 cup grated organic ginger, optional
Chop and lightly saute the onions and ginger in a bit of filtered water. The onions should be lightly cooked, not browned or caramelized.
Carefully drain the cooked onions and optional ginger and spread them out in the center of the dishtowel. Wrap the mixture in the towel burrito style, that is, fold the longer sides over the onions first and then fold the ends.
The onion poultice is now ready to place on the chest of the person suffering from congestion. Make sure the poultice is not too hot before doing this.
Alternatively, the onion poultice can be placed on the soles of the feet to draw the congestion out of the lungs to facilitate normalized breathing. It is normal for very productive coughing to occur shortly after using the poultice as mucous is expelled from the lungs.
Leave the onion poultice in place for 20 minutes. It can be gently reheated in the microwave and reused as necessary throughout the day.
It is best to make a fresh onion poultice every 24 hours or so. For best results, use an onion poultice with another excellent mucous and cough reducing remedy known as elderberry syrup.
Below is a video by Dr. Seth Yates, a Naturopathic Doctor, that shows visually how to perform the steps above.
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Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.