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Shortly after I gave birth to my son, my sister gifted me the most amazing folder of DIY health tips for moms. She already had 3 children of her own and had learned a lot over the years about different ways to address health concerns with various home remedies. I remember when my perfect little baby caught his first illness, I opened up that folder and had so many great ideas for how to help him. 

One such tool she introduced me to was the onion poultice. It’s a simple, easy at-home remedy for coughs and chest congestion and I honestly wonder how I went my whole life without knowing about it. 

What is a poultice?

A poultice is basically a warm substance you intentionally place on a particular part of the body for the purpose of utilizing its medicinal qualities to promote healing. You can use all sorts of herbs and oils depending on the health condition you are dealing with.

Why an onion?

Onions are known for their powerful health promoting qualities. They are anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, full of antioxidants, and also help balance blood sugar and blood pressure. Basically, they can do it all. Check out the resources for an onion soup recipe, which is a go-to when trying to recover from an illness. 

As a poultice, onions bring all their health benefits while also helping to break up chest congestion, making it easier to cough up accumulating mucus and breathe freely.

How to Make an Onion Poultice

It’s easy! Just make sure to always have an onion on hand because isn’t it always the middle of the night when these things happen? Or is it just me?

  1. Cut half an onion into thin slices.
  2. Warm a pan on the stove and place a little water at the bottom to allow the onion to steam and prevent sticking.
  3. Cook the onion until it’s warm and tender, beginning to become translucent – about 10 minutes.
  4. Pour out onto a paper towel and soak up any excess water.
  5. Allow to cool until safe to touch, but keep as warm as possible.
  6. Wrap in a thin piece of cloth or a paper towel until it is completely enclosed.
  7. Place warm poultice on chest and allow to sit for 20 minutes or more. I usually hold it in place with masking tape.
  8. You can reuse the same onions by reheating them and reapplying for about 24 hours.

If the person’s skin is sensitive, you can rub a bit of olive oil onto the chest before applying the poultice. Again, make sure it has cooled down enough to prevent burns. 

Applying an onion poultice in this way strengthens the immune system and assists the body in breaking up mucus and congestion.

If you have any experiences using onion poultices or any tips of your own, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

About the author

Hey! My name is Brittan and I live in Utah with my husband and one adorable toddler. I love finding holistic and natural ways to care for myself and my family. I particularly enjoy learning about nutrition, herbal medicine, the emotional, spiritual, and energetic aspects of health, and anything else that contributes to complete wellness. Thanks for joining me!

I am not a doctor. Everything I write about is from my personal experience and perspective. Consult a physician if you have questions specific to your health.

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