Onion Detox: Benefits, Side Effects & More

Despite being seemingly odd, onion detoxes involve putting onions in your socks. This ancient Chinese practice is a remedy and has been practiced for centuries.

There has recently been a renewed interest in this practice and its potential health benefits. This has prompted scientists to take a closer look at what’s really behind the mysterious onion-in-the-sock phenomenon.

Let’s explore the science behind this age-old practice and what it can do for our health.

What is Onion Detoxification?

Onion detoxification is an ancient remedy that involves placing fresh onions in one’s socks while sleeping.

Although the exact origin of this practice remains unknown, historians suggest that it was first documented by Hippocrates—the “father of medicine”—and has been used for centuries in various cultures worldwide.

There are several theories behind how onion detox works. But the most widely accepted explanation is that the sulphuric compounds and enzymes in onions can extract toxins and chemicals from the body when placed on the affected skin area.

What Does Putting Onions In Your Socks Do?

So, what does putting unprocessed onions or onion slices into your socks before bedtime, during sleep, or during the day do? According to food science experts, phosphoric acid is the main active ingredient in unprocessed onions, which has numerous health benefits for the skin and the affected area.

Additionally, unprocessed onions contain organosulfur compounds, which are believed to contribute to the overall health benefits for the body.

These compounds are believed to help strengthen the internal organs and the immune system by providing sulfurous compounds that benefit human nutrition.

Furthermore, raw-cut onion contains antioxidant properties that can help protect against free radical damage and provide other potential health benefits.

Many people have claimed that cutting an onion and placing it inside a sock will help cure a fever like flu, cold, or headache by removing toxins and chemicals from your body. While no scientific evidence supports this claim, research has shown that onions contain strong anti-bacterial properties, which can effectively combat the spread of bacterial infections and help with healing properties.

Onions (Allium cepa) contain compounds such as sulfur, flavonoids, and quercetin which have been proven to fight bacterial infections more effectively than chemical antibiotics for the body.

In addition, research has found that onions can be beneficial in treating respiratory illnesses due to their ability to expand blood vessels and reduce inflame of vital organs and internal organs such as the lungs.

Some experts believe placing onions near nerve endings on the foot can help relieve pain due to their healing properties. For example, one study found that applying an onion extract cream could help reduce pain associated with arthritis. However, more research is needed to prove this theory definitively.

What Does the National Onion Association (NOA) Say?

The National Onion Association (NOA) is one of the leading organizations looking into the potential health benefits of putting onion slices into your socks, including sleeping with them.

According to NOA, the theory that a raw-cut onion slice can treat the flu dates back to the 1500s. Only anecdotal evidence suggests that placing onion slices onto your feet may benefit specific ailments such as colds and flu.

However, they also note that more research needs to be done before any definitive conclusions can be made regarding the efficacy of this folk remedy.

What Does the Research Say?

Foot reflexology has been a widely studied Chinese practice for many years.

Unfortunately, a review of recent studies has provided little evidence to suggest the efficacy of foot reflexology in treating any medical condition. Some research even has demonstrated that it may worsen infections. Moreover, there is an absence of overall quality research on the topic due to inadequate studies.

As far as onions being utilized in socks or elsewhere on the body, no experiments have confirmed their effectiveness; instead, publications boasting their use lack scientific basis and are mainly composed of third-party claims and stories.

All-in-all, more thorough examinations must be conducted before health professionals consider this viable practice option for sick people.

Health Benefits of Onions


Onions contain powerful antioxidants that help in protecting your cells from free radical damage.

These antioxidants also aid in reducing irritation and can even help reduce your risk for heart disease and cancer.

A recent study found that onion consumption was associated with lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation in the body.

Immune System Support

Onions are rich in vitamin C, which helps to support the immune system and prevent infections. Vitamin C has been known to reduce the duration and severity of colds that need direct contact with the human host and other viruses, like flu or COVID-19, to spread.

Additionally, onions, like garlic, contain quercetin, a natural antihistamine that can help reduce allergy symptoms like congestion and sneezing.

Digestive Health

Onions are high in fiber, which helps to promote healthy digestion by keeping things moving through your digestive tract properly.

Eating onions regularly can also help to increase beneficial bacteria in your gut, improving overall digestive health and helping you absorb more nutrients from food.

Blood Sugar Regulation

Onions contain chromium, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing glucose production in the liver.

This makes them an excellent choice for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes who need to control their blood sugar levels. However, evidence for the role of onions in reducing glucose production is limited, and more research is required to support this claim conclusively.

Heart Health

Eating onions regularly has been shown to improve blood lipid levels, reducing your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, or heart attack later in life.

Red onions and white onions contain folic acid. This helps to keep homocysteine levels low. High homocysteine levels have been closely related to increased risk for cardiovascular diseases such as stroke or heart attack.

So, keeping them under control with adequate folic acid intake is essential.

The Downsides of Eating Onions

Allergic Reactions

Some people may experience an allergic reaction when they eat onions. Symptoms include itching, swelling, hives, difficulty breathing, nausea, and vomiting.

If you experience any of these symptoms after eating onions, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately.

Digestive Issues

While eating onions in moderation can provide digestive benefits, overeating onions could lead to heartburn, gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. Therefore, sticking to small amounts when consuming onions is best to avoid digestive issues.

Interference with Medication

Onion and garlic contain compounds that may interfere with medications such as blood thinners or insulin injections.

It is essential to consult your doctor before eating large amounts of onions, especially if you’re taking certain medications or have certain medical conditions that could affect the onion’s compounds.

Gastrointestinal Obstruction

Large pieces of uncooked onion can cause gastrointestinal obstruction if swallowed without chewing correctly due to its hard texture and size. This could lead to blockage in the intestines leading to severe pain and even surgery if not treated quickly enough by medical professionals.

If you choose to eat uncooked onions, they must be chewed thoroughly before swallowing them down, so there is no risk of either choking on the food itself or causing an obstruction in the intestines. You would require emergency treatment from a physician as soon as possible should this happen accidentally.

Onions FAQ

Do onions detox the liver?

Yes and no. While it is clear that onion-based diets provide numerous benefits, inconclusive evidence suggests that onions actively detox the liver from toxins and chemicals.

Studies on animals have reported positive results, with tomatoes and onions seen to help cleanse them from toxins and chemicals. However, human studies are sparse and often used only as markers of other digestive ailments. It is also unclear whether the placebo effect works here.

All in all, we cannot definitively say that onions help detoxify the liver; more research must be done before we can draw any firm conclusion about their ability.

Does onion clean your stomach?

Yes, onions can clean your stomach, but little scientific evidence supports this claim. While studies have shown that onion juice can reduce the symptoms of indigestion, no solid evidence exists to suggest that onions actively cleanse your stomach or contribute to increased digestion.

Nutritionally speaking, onions are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can optimize digestion. However, further research is needed to determine whether their purported cleansing capabilities are accurate.

What does Onion do to your body?

Onions contain various compounds that can positively and negatively impact the body.

Onions are rich in fiber, vitamins A, C, and B6, potassium, and other minerals that can help supplement a healthy diet.

The sulfur compounds found in onions can aid digestion and may help reduce inflammation when eaten raw or cooked.

Eating onions can also reduce blood sugar levels due to their high chromium content.

However, excessive onion could irritate the digestive system due to its acidic nature.

Therefore, incorporating Onion into your diet in moderation is recommended for optimal outcomes for physical wellness.

Do raw onions help with recovery?

Recent research has suggested that consuming unprocessed onions may benefit post-exercise recovery. However, to determine the efficacy of consuming onions for body recovery, further research is required to assess how frequently this vegetable should be consumed and how much should be eaten.

Specifically, there is the idea that the consumption of this vegetable helps prevent irritation and promote muscle repair.

Until now, no definitive study has demonstrated a direct correlation between raw onion consumption and improved recovery times without the placebo effect.

There is insufficient evidence that onion compounds can cure some diseases, such as bubonic plague, usually treated by antibiotics. However, it can support treatment thanks to its antibiotic properties and antiplatelet activity.

Rahul Malpe

Rahul is a nutritionist and personal trainer with 3+ years of experience in the field of health coaching. He specializes in nutrition science, with a keen eye for how food choices, lifestyle habits, and physical activity impact our bodies. 

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