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Botanically it is known as Allium cepa. It is a herbaceous biennial plant of the lily family (Liliaceae). Onion has a characteristic pungent aroma and sharp taste; it is used as a spice for many foods, particularly meats, sausages, vegetables and salads, and as a vegetable. Probably originating in the eastern Mediterranean region and eastern Asia, the onion unknown in the world state having been cultivated since prehistoric times. It is now grown all over the world but chiefly in the temperate zones.

The edible part consists of thickened leaf bases, arising from the stem plate at the base of the build. The upper part of the leaf is hollow and cylindrical. A tuft of shallow, fibrous roots emerges from the stem plate. Onion powder is the spice consisting of the ground product of dehydrated trimmed onion bulbis. Onion salt is onion powder mixed with free running salt. Dehydrated flake onion and dehydrated instant minced onion are available. Dehydrated onion possesses the characteristic aroma and taste of fresh onion.

It is a fair source of vitamin C, organic sulphides, phenolic constituents, amino acids and essential oils. Many people do not realise that onion has many medicinal properties. Pliny listed no less than 33 ailments that could be cured by onion. The juice of the onion is one of the most irresistible antiseptics and disinfectants in the world; experiments in Russia showed that typhus, streptococci, staphylococci and masses of other organisms yielded to onion juice. Gangrene of wounds has been successfully treated by onion vapour in Russia. Onions are eaten raw as salad and boiled or baked in soups, curries, chutney and pickles. The pungency is due to the presence of a volatile oil allyl propyl disulphide.

J. F. Dastur in his book 'Medicinal Plants of India and Pakistan' has described the onion as a stimulant, diuretic, expectorant and rubefacient. As an emmenagogue and diuretic, it is eaten raw; its decoction is given in cough and strangury; cooked with vinegar the bulb is given in jaundice, splenic enlargement and dyspepsia; taken with salt it is a common remedy for colic and scurvy; onion is also used in obstruction of intestines. prolapse of the anus and as a sedative. As an emollient, crushed onion or its juice is applied over skin diseases and insect bites; its paste is applied with salt to unbroken chilblains; a poultice of the roasted bulb is used over indolent boils, wounds, broken chilblains, suppurating ears etc. Onion juice with mustard oil is applied as a liniment over painful joints, inflammatory swellings and skin diseases. A compress made of a roasted bulb applied to inflamed or protruded piles gives certain relief.

Dr. S. J. Singh in his book 'Practical Naturopathy' has described onions as one among the finest tonics we have. They are very useful in cases of fever, dropsy, catarrh and chronic bronchitis and mitigate cough of phthisis. If eaten raw at supper time, the onion ensures a good night's sleep. For a bad cold and cough there exists nothing better than the consumption of well-boiled or fried onions. Mixed with common salt, the onion is a common remedy in colic and scurvy. In malarial fevers, onions are eaten twice a day with 2-3 black-peppers with remarkable relief. Toothache is allayed by placing a small piece of onion on bad tooth or gum. In case of bleeding from the nose, an onion is cut in halves and placed in the neck. Warts also sometimes disappear if rubbed with cut onions. Roasted onions are applied as a poultice to indolent boils, bruises, wounds etc. to relieve heaty sensations and to bring the boil to maturity. In dysentery and body heat, they are applied to the navel. The juice of the roasted onion placed in the ear is an old remedy for earache.

He has also said that fresh onion juice promotes perspiration, relieves constipation and bronchitis; induces sleep. Onion juice is an excellent remedy for epilepsy. It is applied locally to allay irritation of insect bites, scorpion stings and bee stings. Embrocating bald patches on the head with its juice is said to promote growth of hair. Cooked with vinegar, they are given in jaundice, enlargement of spleen and dyspepsia. Onion juice dripped on cotton wool and put into the ear is a popular Russian remedy for noises in the ears. It is also dropped hot into the ear to relieve earache and applied hot to the soles of the feet as a derivative in convulsive disorders. It is sniffed in epistaxis and used like smelling salt in faintness, infantile convulsions, headaches, epileptic and hysterical fits. Mixed with mustard oil in equal proportions, it is a good application to rheumatic pains and other inflammatory swellings.

Joseph E. Meyer in his book 'Nature's Remedies' has said that onion has all the nutrients of wine and it vitalizes the body and makes it, energetic. It has healing powers and cures many ailments of the body like cough and cold, nose-bleeding, sun-stroke, heat allergy, hiccup, vomiting, boils and abscesses. It has special powers to keep the body cool in summer months if taken raw.

Sir R. N. Chopra in his book 'Indigenous Drugs of India' has said that onion juice is a popular remedy in cases of bronchitis, insomnia, cough and cold, sun-stroke, heat-stroke, allergy, vomiting, boils and abscesses and jaundice.

K.R. Kirtikar in his book 'Indian Medicinal Plants' has said that onion juice is very useful in bronchitis, insomnia, cough and cold, sun-stroke, heat-stroke, vomiting, boil, abscess and liver troubles.

Benefit and uses of Onion.

  • Onions are chock full of anti-cancer chemicals. However, certain varieties are particularly high in these compounds as well as more effective in inhibiting liver and colon cancer cell growth.
  • Onion was also a popular folk remedy, being applied to tumors, made into a syrup for relieving coughs, or prepared in a tincture to relieve “dropsy”.
  • Asthma sufferers may also benefit from a hearty dose of onions. Researchers discovered a sulfur compound contained in onions that can prevent the biochemical chain reaction that leads to asthma attacks.
  • Onion baneficial calm the liver, moisten the intestines, and benefit the lungs.
  • Onions help prevent thrombosis and reduce hypertension.The juice of one yellow or white onion a day can raise HDL cholesterol by 30% over time.
  • Onions are contains iron content. They are, beneficial in the treatment of anemia.
  • Green onions are used fresh in green salads, pasta salads, and potato salads, or cooked in dishes requiring a mild onion flavor.
  • Onions banefit colds, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other diseases and contain anti-inflammatory, anticholesterol, anticancer, and antioxidant components.
  • It also contains the minerals Potassium , Phosphorus, Calcium ,Magnesium, Sodium and Selenium. Also contains small amounts of iron, manganese, copper and zinc.

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