"Natural Healing with Herbs for a Healthier You"

As we live in Arizona where the climate is mild, even at a relatively high elevation, the winters are not those that leave snow on the ground for long nor do we get any kind of permafrost.  Therefore, we planted some onion two years ago in August to grow over winter. When May came around the leaves were about five inches above the ground bulbs were larger than we expected.  We were very satisfied with the ease of this method the planting and caring of the onion literally took no time at all.

These were the first onions we had grown, as we had always been able to buy them cheaply in bulk from the local grocery store.  As the family members at home are becoming fewer and fewer we found that the economy bags of onions we used to purchase would more often than not sprout or mold before we had a chance to eat or use them all.  It was a real treat to have fresh onions for a longer period of time.

Most seed packets will give you an idea of the depth of sowing and spacing.  I always try and imagine what the plant will look like when mature and give it a little more room than that.  So each onion will be planted about 2 and a half sizes from its neighbor so that the bulb and roots will have plenty room to grow.

Once we had harvested our onions we hung them in a dark cool place to dry.  We did use the bulk of the onions shortly after harvesting them.  We made a cough syrup and refrigerated it to prepare us for the cold and flu season.  We dehydrated some of the onion to keep on hand for flavoring and cooking.  We kept the rest of the onions in a cool, dark place so that they would last longer through the winter.

Onions are sold either in pre-packed sacks or in bulk.  When buying onions, I choose those with short necks and dry, papery outer skins.  They need to be firm and hard and reasonably free of blemishes.

The storage onion can be stored in a cool dry, well-ventilated place for weeks and even months without loss of vitamins or minerals.  I try not to store them in piles, since a single layer will give room for air to circulate and ensures a longer life.

Spring/summer onions have a thinner skin and should also be firm but not as hard as a storage onion.  I choose those onions that are free of cuts and bruises.  Fresh onions are more delicate and need more care than the storage onion and will not keep as long.  They fresh onion should be stored in a well ventilated, cool dry place or refrigerated to sustain their quality.

To prevent some of the tear producing effects when cutting onions I cut the top and peel down without trimming off the root or bottom end until the last possible moment.  The cells that release the sulfuric compounds are concentrated at the base of the onion, so cutting off the root end last helps to prevent those tears.

In our image-concerned society, some people worry that they may have "onion breath." Although this problem normally comes from eating raw onions, a mild raw onion may cause no odor.  Cooked onions help alleviate this problem and leave virtually no odor on the breath.  Here are a few helpful ways that I fresh my breath after eating raw onion.

* Rinse mouth with equal parts of lemon juice and water.
* Chew a citrus peel to sweeten the breath.
* Eat a sprig or two of parsley, nature's natural breath sweetener.

We have truly been blessed with a very healthy family despite the rigors our society has put us through.  The children have had vaccinations as at the time I thought we were doing the right thing.  And we have a raging case of Gulf War Syndrome to deal with on a regular basis.  So I have had some experience with the childhood earaches, tonsillitis, mumps and the congestion from colds, flu, and dairy products.

One year in particular our then 12-year old son seemed to have an unusually weak immune system and he had come down with a severe cold with the congestion in his chest that left a burning sensation.  At the time we were just starting our journey in herbal healing.  So we decided to follow Dr. Christopher’s program.  We first made sure the bowels were eliminating and had him take capsules of a lower bowel formula that I had made following Dr. Christopher’s FenLB Formula. 

We then wanted to work on the congestion so that he could begin to expel the phlegm and mucus that was trapped in his chest.  I had read that onion would relieve congestion and many complications of a cold.  So I sliced up two onions and slowly sautéed them with olive oil on the stove.  Once they were a translucent color we removed from the heat and let them cool to where they could be placed on his chest. 

We first rubbed some olive oil on his chest and then placed the warm onions on the chest and wrapped the upper torso with plastic wrap and then wrapped this with an ace bandage.  This first night the loose onions did not stay on the area the entire night.  He didn’t seem to be feeling much better.  He stayed home from school and I stayed home from work and we were going to work on this.  We started the day with a hot diaphoretic bath with some yarrow in the bath water and a quart of yarrow tea to drink and finished it off with a cold shower rinse.

At this time he was especially tired and seemed to be weak so we let him rest for a while.  We then prepared the sautéed onions again and this time we placed the onion mixture in a single layer of cheesecloth and then placed the package on the chest and wrapped again with plastic wrap and ace bandage.  The onions seemed to stay in place a lot better this way.  We just did one short application of this during the day and gave him a break so that he could move around more freely for the rest of the afternoon.  And during this time we administered another hot diaphoretic bath with yarrow and a cold-water rinse.  By this time it was bedtime and we again made the sautéed onion poultice, (all the while keeping the bowels moving), and wrapped up the chest and covered him with only natural fiber blankets.

When we were treating him I kept asking myself if I was doing the right thing and if maybe I should consult a doctor as my son seemed to be in a lot of pain and was very uncomfortable with this illness.  However, in the morning when he woke up after sleeping in longer than normal he was his young self again.  Other than being a bit tired all the congestion and pain in his chest was relieved and he had only had a couple of bad bouts of coughing which were productive.  Due to
some of the severe symptoms he had, I still wonder today if what I was treating was actually pneumonia or flu and not a chest cold at all.

Another time I had a co-worker who had been fighting a cough for over a month.  Having not seen her very often at the office I had no idea she had been sick.  Until one day she asked me to take attend a meeting in her place because she couldn’t even talk without having a severe bout of coughing.

She said she had been taking an over the counter cough syrup with codeine but that it had not been doing any good.  Plus she is a strict LDS member and did not like to take any kind of drug that would make her intoxicated in any degree.  (I couldn’t even get her to try an alcohol Echinacea tincture that had been placed in hot water to evaporate the alcohol off.)

I told her I could make her a drug free cough syrup.  She was willing at this point to try anything.  She was open minded to this therapy as she said her mother had always treated the children at home with folk medicine and that as children they did not go to the doctor.

I made up a pint of the onion, honey, with a half-ounce of powered liquorice root, and a half -ounce of powered horehound herb.  I prepared the cough syrup in a double boiler that very same evening.

The next morning I took in the cough syrup to her read the label to her as to the cough syrups contents and how I had prepared it.  On the label I had instructed to take one tablespoon three times a day.  But then I started thinking, this is just food and will not harm her but will only bring her nutrition.  And so I instructed her to take a tablespoon as needed for the cough.

It wasn’t until the second morning that I saw her again.  She came bouncing into my office raving about the onion honey cough syrup.  She had slept all night, and she could tell me all about it without coughing.  She had me write down the formula for her and asked where she could buy the liquorice root and horehound herb.  From that day forward whenever she heard of anyone having a cough, this is the cough syrup she recommends they take.
by Eva Wilson
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