Five Ways to Use an Onion for a Cough

| Modified on Feb 06, 2024
Onion Cough Remedy

Onion is a very effective natural remedy for a cough. Onions can be prepared several different ways to relieve coughing, so you can choose the one that suits your needs and tastes!

1. Chopped Onion Fumes

Oftentimes, a cough is the worst at night and remedies that work during the day are ineffective one you lie down. A chopped onion is perfect for this kind of a cough. Chop up an onion (or use half an onion if it is very large and save the rest for the next night!) Place the onion in a bowl. Place it near your head as you sleep, either on the bed next to your pillow or on a bedside table. Keep in mind that you want to be breathing in the fumes! If you should wake up with a coughing fit, you can even chew up a bite of your onion. Discard the onion in the morning.

2. Onion Steam

If you wish to make use of the onion fumes during the day, chop up an onion and place it in a pan in 2 cups of water. Bring that to a boil. Use a towel to make a “tent" and hold your face (not too close!) over the onion water steam. Breathe the fumes for several minutes. The moisture will be helpful as well. You can reheat the same onion water throughout the day. Or keep the water and onion in a crock pot and lift the lid and steam as needed through the day. Discard the onion at the end of the day.

3. Onion Syrup

Slice an onion. Do not separate the slices into rings. Place one slice into a bowl. Layer honey or sugar onto the onion slice. Layer another onion slice over the sugar or honey. Add more honey or sugar. Continue the layers of onion and honey or sugar until you are out of onion. Over the course of the day (or night) the juice from the onion will end up in the bottom of the bowl and will be sweet from the honey or sugar. Ideally, you will allow this to sit for 12 hours and then strain out the syrup. Discard the onion (or put it in some soup!) Keep your syrup in the refrigerator. Take 1 teaspoon of the syrup as needed. At first you may need a dose every 30 minutes but gradually you will need less and less.

4. Onion Tea

Add 1 tablespoon of chopped onion to a mug and pour boiling water over it. After 15 minutes, strain out the onion. Add a pinch of salt if desired. Sip your tea! If you do not have a raw onion, make the tea with 1 teaspoon of dry minced onion.

5. Cook with Onion

Make soup and add an onion. Make salad and add an onion. Add a slice of onion to your sandwich. Fry up some onion to have with your dinner. While you are at it, throw in some garlic which is also helpful to your cough.

Have you tried onion for a cough? We would love to hear from you!

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Posted by Ckew (Stephenville Tx ) on 11/29/2022

Chopped onion fumes did not help me at all. And now my bedroom wreaks of onion. I was hopeful as I love natural cures. I also drank the Apple Cider Vinegar -honey drink- also did not help!

Replied by Yad
(Sunny Somewhere)
15 posts

For Cough please try to drink Citrus Fruit Tea. Make Citrus Fruit Tea by simmering on low heat for about an hour a combination of juice, pith and ground skin of pomelo, grapefruit, lemon, lime, tangerine and orange, as little as possible amount of water to facilitate simmering, plus cinammon and black cumin powder. Once tea is ready, remove from heat and add wild, organic, raw honey to taste. Drink this three times per day. This will provide vitamins A, B, C, phosphoros, potassium, bergamottin, magnesium, flavinoids and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Buy or make Cottonwood tree bud balm (Balm of Gilliad) such as one available from Essential Northwest Botanicals. Rub balm on chest and reapply balm every hour. This will soothe and reduce the cough.

Take an epsom salt bath everyday. Make organic, grass fed bone broth vegetable soups with lots of onions and garlic, eat fresh berries, oatmeal, avocado and Salmon while avoiding potato, tomato, eggplant, fried foods, processed foods, breakfast cereal, soda, sugar and all GMO products. This will aid removal of dead cells from your body.

Gargle with water and pink Himalayan salt mixture three times per day. Also drink a glass of water with pink Himalayan salt once a day. This will kill the source of infection. Swish your mouth with virgin, organic coconut oil 2 times a day for 15 minutes at a time to aid your body's immune system.

Replied by Sabita

I found relief from coughing by spraying my throat with 3% hydrogen peroxide (use a nasal pump sprayer). While spraying, I would deeply breathe in to get HP into my lungs and sinuses. Do this 5 times every 2 to three hours.

I also consumed a cup of hot water with a juiced lemon, a mashed garlic clove (almost liquified) and as much cayenne pepper as I could tolerate. I took this in the morning and evening.

The above remedies was what I used during a recent bout of flu. It cut the length of illness, stopped my coughing and I had no lingering side effects from the flu.

Posted by Deborah (Prescott, Az) on 01/03/2014

Fantastic remedy. I made it this week for my husband who had a nagging cough after a week-long illness, and at the same time recommended it to a friend with a 12-year old daughter who had been coughing for 3 weeks.

Both my husband and my friend's daughter a) loved the taste of the recipe and b) had excellent and fast results from it.

My friend actually wrote me the morning after her daughter's first dose; it had been the first night in 3 weeks that both she and her daughter slept through the night due to a complete cessation of coughing. She was absolutely thrilled and continued to give it to her daughter in the days to follow with great results.

Excellent and highly recommended remedy!

Posted by Josey (Las Vegas) on 10/26/2013

I have had a nonproductive cough for about 2 weeks. I tried the red onion and honey this morning and I feel like new! Just a little cough left but not bad at all. Thank you Earthclinic (again! ) and thank you Alicia for the recipe. This is a keeper and I will use it everytime a cough comes up.

Posted by Qwerty (Bucharest, Romania) on 09/25/2012

Onion tea, grandma's remedy also, not pleasant to have it but it works.

Posted by Blanche (Iberia Parish, Louisiana Usa) on 03/30/2011

Someone posted a remedy for cough that was very simple and worked for me when I had a persistent bronchitis cough. It was an onion slice or two covered by honey, taken as often as necessary. I was amazed how well it worked.

Posted by Kuper (Los Angeles, Ca, Usa) on 06/12/2010

Reply to Virgina from Highland Ranch, Colorado

This is a reply to the cough that won't go away. My wife uses a old remedy for our kids when they get a cough and it works wonders. Use a red onion and cut it up, put it in a bowl then pour honey all over it. Let it sit about 12 hours in the fridge and you will see that it has created a liquid of honey and onion juice. Take a spoonful in the morning and night. Do not eat the onions, just the juice. sometimes we add raw garlic pieces. Also once I had severe bronchitis and it cured that. This remedy can be done also with turnip which works fantastic as well. This remedy may cure your cough for good.

Good luck, Kuper

Replied by Catherine
(Wellington, New Zealand)

Reply to Kuper, your remedy put me in mind of my mother-in-laws cough-mixture recipe (they mostly made their own remedies in the 30's) For coughs.. Hollow out a turnip or swede (rutabaga) and fill with honey or brown sugar. Leave until liquid is black and syrupy (I'm not sure how long this took but probably at least a week) Take a spoonful 3x day. I used to think it probably fermented and it was the alcohol that made it effective, but obvously there was more to it. Cheers

Posted by Asmaa (Kuwait) on 01/06/2010

Cough. i tried this recipe from a friend's mom and it worked wonders. Peel Red Onions and make thick slices (may be say 3 or 4). Keep the slice in a bowl and put 1 tbsp sugar, then put another slice and again put 1 tbsp sugar, repeat the process until all slices are covered with sugar. Do this in the night and keep it until morning. In the morning there will be some juice in the bowl. Squeeze the onion with your hands to extract some more juice and drink it. Do it for 3 days. i got relief immediately after the first try.

Posted by Alicia (Asheville, NC) on 07/31/2009

Red Onion. I am from Mexico, and my mother recommended me a red onion home made syrup for nagging coughs.

My first son had a times a cough that would never really go away. My second son was an extremely premature baby and therefore with "weak" immature lungs. I used this homemade syrup after trying everything, including various homeopathic formulas.

The original syrup calls for sugar but I have replaced it with honey or stevia. The onion has to be RED onion and I give it to my children either as lung strengthener or as medicine qwhen they do have a cough or cold.

1 big red onion washed and peeled.
sweetener (brown sugar, stevia, honey)

Cut the onion HORIZONTALLY in slices. Start at the base of the onion. Lay the newly cut base and place base in a bowl. Add a layer of the stevia or honey in here. GO easy as you have many layers to go and the sweetener from the top layers will eventually sip through the bottom layers
Repeat until the whole onion has been cut and reconstructed on the bowl.

Let it rest for at least 15 hrs at room temperature. I do it overnight.
Next day I have a bowl with about half a glass of "syrup". Children like the sweet taste. It doesn't taste like onion at all.

I hope you find this remedy as "miraculous" as I have!

Replied by Mary
(Lesburg, Fl)

I found your Red Onion recipe for coughs to be very effective. I did, however, modify it slightly.

I took 1/4 of a Red Onion and 1/2 cup of Honey and blended them together into a puree and strained the puree through a wire strainer. It seems to work fine.

Replied by Silver Nissan
(North Yorkshire, Uk)

I have been having a cough for past 6 weeks with varying intensity. To start with it was phlegmy and then turned to a non producing spasmic cough. I have had a course of antibiotics. I was getting fed up with all and then I tried some remedies recommended in EC. Took almond butter with honey, turmeric and honey in warm milk, ginger and honey in warm water, pulped ginger in hot water, thyme leaves in hot water, sugar and honey in layered red onion slices and drinking the juice and finally leaving sliced onion at the bedside table. Now my cough turned into green phlegmy cough. What is the best way to get rid of it? some suggestions, please. Many Thanks, SILVER NISSAN

Replied by Terese
(Terranora, Nsw, Australia)

Hi, I tried the red onion recipe and whilst I dont cough as much, I still have a crackling sound when I breathe out and feels tight around my chest. I had a cold several weeks ago which cleared up but the cough stayed. I feel ok, started on ACV & baking soda a week ago, mini protocol two days ago, am feeling not as good as a couple of days ago, but I think that is detox going on. Any advice on the chest complaint.

Replied by Gavin
(Manganui, Northland, New Zealand)

Re the crackling breath... Garlic and cayenne should clear it up in a couple of days. You will cough some stuff up and that should be that.

Replied by Terese
(Terranora, Nsw Australia)

Hi Gavin, Thanks for the info, how much of the cayenne and garlic do you take? I find that raw garlic gives me indigestion.

Replied by Gavin
(Manganui, Northland, New Zealand)

Ive been chopping up three cloves of garlic. Same amount of ginger and giving it a fry in the wok just briefly in virgin olive oil.. Then frying a slice of bread then an egg... Then press about a third of a teaspoon of cayenne into the fried bread on a corner.. and putting some egg yoke over it straight away and eating. The ginger has nothing to do with the crackily throut issue but.. The ginger really does act like a cortico steroid without any side effects for stopping back pain... (The actual recipe for backpain is ginger tumeric and cayenne) and need a full week to clear up any pain... but as far as the Throat and lung issue goes The cayenne alone will do it in no time.

Replied by JoAnn

Be careful giving a baby under 1 year old. It CAN Cause infant botulism, which can be fatal if not treated. Severe diarrhea.


I guess you are referring to honey.

I've heard that apparently, to stop an infant or child's cough you can put sliced onion to the soles of their feet, covered with socks. Haven't tried it, mine are all grown up now.

Posted by Amy (Palmer, Ak) on 11/11/2008

Onions: can be made into cough syrup. By taking a sliced onion and then putting some sugar on top, and then let set for a few min. then drain off the juices. you can even eat the onion afterward if you would like.

Posted by Wendy (Sylmar, Ca) on 12/29/2007

Slice up a brown or yellow onion and place it in a breathable bag such as a linen bag. Put it is bed near the face of the sufferer and it will stop the coughing within minutes. If the sufferer is awake, tie the bag around the neck and lie down on the couch with eyes closed. I thank God for the wonderful herbs He gives us to help our sicknesses!

Posted by Seema (UK) on 01/22/2006

peel one large onion and cut in in half, put a half a tablespoon of brown sugar on to each half of the onion, and cover it, let it stand for an hour. The syrup relish should be taken at least twice a day. It works wonders.

Posted by Sharon (Victoria, Australia) on 11/15/2005

I have stumbled across a remedy for coughs and bronchitis. slice an onion and place in bowl layer with pure honey, leave sit for an hour or so, this will yield a syrup. Have a teaspoon every 15 minutes until coughing chest soreness subsides.