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The Onion that Saved my Life

The onion that saved my life!
Common Onion, Allium cepa

Maybe that is being a little dramatic, but it did help me out in a time of need when I thought there was no other possible solution! Brief history of me: during each major seasonal change, Winter to Spring and Fall to Winter, I would become sick. It would last 2-3 weeks, if not longer; week one starting out as sinus congestion then draining and moving to my lungs. From there, phlegm would build up and I would cough mucus out for another week or so. When I was little, it would take me out of school for at least a week and no medications resolved my issues.

I am guaranteed to experience this annually, but I am never sick during any other time of the year. My sinuses become congested, lungs become phlegmy, breathing is restricted, body will be hot, and I become lethargic. I have tried altering my exercising routine, taking different herbs, taking different medications, and altering my emotional perspective. I have improved my situation but still, I get sick every Spring and late Fall.

I am not sure if you can feel it, but Spring is on its way. I have been paying attention…to the trees putting on their new growth, ground covers greening up, and the Spring songbirds that have recently returned to our neighborhood. More importantly, I have been listening to my body; I am experiencing signs of increased liver function (physically and emotionally), I have a strong desire to be outside and active, and our entire household is going stir-crazy from Winter!! Sure enough, experiencing all of these signs for Spring, this sickness appeared out of nowhere.

I could feel it all come back to me, like a horrible nightmare. I was drowning in a dreadful darkness of (yet another) 3 weeks filled with mucus, no energy, and self-pity. And then, like a ray of sunshine, I stumbled upon salvation! I was eating dinner with my wife and included was a salad, full of delicious red onions. We started eating and not realizing it, I was craving the salad, especially enjoying the onions. Normally, I would not be able to eat such a salad because the onions would upset my already hot stomach, but this time, things were different.*

Progressing through our meal, I felt changes occurring in my body. I could breathe through my nose, my lungs opened up, and my body lost its excess heat! My stomach was not fighting the strong onions, they were actually welcomed! In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the pungent quality of foods such as onion and garlic go to the lungs, like when you can taste or feel onion on your breath. Sinuses are connected to the lungs, usually if something is wrong with one, it is also expressed in the other.

Now, why is the onion so significant in this story? Anything that is pungent is both stimulating and dispersing to the body. This is important for breaking up phlegm and getting rid of all of that gunk that deposits into my lungs/sinuses. My congestion was stagnation, mucus simply would not move; 1 week in my sinuses and 2 weeks in my lungs. The onion I ate stimulated movement, breaking up phlegm and dispersing blood, putting me back to normal.


I often say that food is the first medicine you put into your body. This experience truly demonstrates the healing powers of what we eat; looking at someone’s diet is always so important when determining how to address health issues. I know that altering eating habits is one of the most difficult lifestyle changes that we can make…and it can be the most impactful change that we ever make.**



*TCM – hot stomachs are sensitive to strong flavors and spicy foods, often resulting in acid reflux, gas, or bloating

**These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. This information is for educational purposes only and not intended as medical advice.

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