Five Ways Onions Can Help You Get Rid of a Cough

Onion is a common ingredient in traditional medicine to get rid of a cough. However, it shouldn't be your first line of defense. So, what should you know about using onion as a remedy? We'll tell you here!
Five Ways Onions Can Help You Get Rid of a Cough

Last update: 22 July, 2022

Getting rid of a cough isn’t easy, but today we’ll share some home remedies that might help. However, you should first understand that coughing is one of your body’s defense mechanisms produced to fight viruses and bacteria or foreign agents in your airways.

It’s produced by an explosive emptying of the air in your lungs. And most of the time, it comes along with phlegm and irritation. While experts don’t exactly recommend stopping it since it’s one of the ways your body gets rid of excess mucus, many people look for ways to control it since it can be bothersome or painful.

To get the best and most effective treatment, you should always see your doctor first. They can recommend medication that’s appropriate for your situation and suggest lifestyle changes that might mitigate your symptoms.

However, as a complement to your doctor’s instructions, there are some home remedies with beneficial ingredients that can help calm your cough. While they shouldn’t be your first line of defense, they can help in mild cases. So, have you ever tried any of these onion cough remedies?

Home onion remedies to get rid of a cough

These remedies are part of a whole catalog of traditional medicine that people have been sharing with each other for decades. That being said, it’s important to mention that there isn’t sufficient scientific evidence to support the safety and effectiveness of onion as a treatment for cough.

There are a few small studies, however, like this one from West Indian Medical Journal, that suggest that some treatments containing onion are effective against certain microorganisms associated with coughs, including Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E. coli, among others.

So, it’s important to remember that these remedies can’t replace medical treatment, and can be ineffective. As we mentioned before, your first step in treating a cough is to see a doctor. If you have a mild cough though, you might consider trying some of these remedies:

1. Onion garlic tea to get rid of a cough

This hot beverage made from onions and garlic can be calming when your cough is related to common problems like a cold. Just like onion, garlic has shown to have antibacterial and antiviral effects, according to a study published in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine.

Some onion garlic and lemon tea.
Both garlic and onion seem to have positive effects against the microorganisms that cause coughing. However, more evidence is needed to prove this.


  • 2 c. of water
  • 1 raw clove of garlic
  • 1/2 onion

How to make it

  • Heat the water to a boil and in the meantime, chop the garlic and onion
  • Once boiling, remove from heat and pour into a pitcher along with the chopped ingredients
  • Let it steep for 20 minutes and strain
  • Have a cup in the morning and another before bed

2. Onion-honey cough syrup

Contrary to the case with onions, there’s much more scientific research to support the positive effects of honey as a treatment for a cough. In fact, a study in Pediatric Reports from the World Health Organization identifies honey as a potential ingredient for soothing coughs.

This same study shows that honey has antimicrobial properties that have proven effective against microorganisms like Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus faecalis. Not only that, but it’s rich in free amino acids, vitamins, trace elements, and flavonoids.


  • 1 onion
  • 4 tbsp. of honey

How to make it

  • Firstly, thinly slice the onion and put it into a glass jar
  • Next, cover with the honey and let it sit for 10 to 12 hours
  • After this time, have two or three tablespoons of syrup a day

3. Garlic, onion, and carrot juice

This juice made from garlic, onions, and carrots might help calm your cough. The combination is full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant compounds that can help strengthen your body’s natural defenses.


  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 medium-sized carrot
  • 1 qt. of water

How to make it

  • Firstly, wash all ingredients well. Then, cut into pieces, and process in a blender along with the water
  • Once well-mixed, consume twice a day

4. Onion lemon juice to get rid of a cough

Another combination that might help calm your cough is onion and lemon juice. While there isn’t specific evidence of its efficacy, it’s worth noting that the combination is rich in vitamin C. This vitamin, according to a study in Respiratory Medicine, is antioxidant and helps reduce coughing and wheezing in smoking patients.

Some onions and onion juice on a table.
Onion juice with lemon is another option to get rid of a cough. It strengthens your defenses thanks to its vitamin C.


  • 1/2 onion
  • The juice of 1/2 lemon

How to make it

  • Firstly, put half an onion through a juicer and combine it with the lemon juice
  • Finally, have two tablespoons of juice every three hours

5. Topical onion treatment

We already mentioned that there is a dearth of evidence to support the use of onion as a cough remedy. Nevertheless, an onion poultice is another very common folk remedy for treating coughs. People who use it say that it acts as a decongestant and reduces irritation in your airways.


  • 1 onion
  • 2 c. of water

How do I make it?

  • Firstly, chop the onion and add it to the water in the pot and boil until soft. Then, strain and remove any remaining pieces of onion.
  • Wet a cloth in the liquid and before it cools, place on your chest
  • Apply for 10 minutes before bed

In summary

Onion is used widely in traditional medicine to help treat cough symptoms. Nevertheless, there isn’t sufficient scientific evidence to prove its effectiveness. As a result, it’s important to use these remedies with caution and to note they aren’t substitutes for medical treatment.

It’s also important to note there are some irritants that could trigger or worsen your cough. Cold drinks, tobacco smoke, dust, perfumes, among others, should be avoided to improve this symptom.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Adeleye, I. A., & Opiah, L. (2003). Antimicrobial activity of extracts of local cough mixtures on upper respiratory tract bacterial pathogens. West Indian Medical Journal52(3), 188–190.
  • Bayan L, Koulivand PH, Gorji A. Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2014;4(1):1–14.
  • Beigoli S, Behrouz S, Memar Zia A, Ghasemi SZ, Boskabady M, Marefati N, Kianian F, Khazdair MR, El-Seedi H, Boskabady MH. Effects of Allium cepa and Its Constituents on Respiratory and Allergic Disorders: A Comprehensive Review of Experimental and Clinical Evidence. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021 Sep 11;2021:5554259.
  • Ahmed N, Sutcliffe A, Tipper C. Feasibility study: honey for treatment of cough in children. Pediatr Rep. 2013;5(2):31–34. Published 2013 Jun 20. doi:10.4081/pr.2013.e8
  • Goldman RD. Honey for treatment of cough in children. Can Fam Physician. 2014;60(12):1107–1110.
  • Kianian F, Marefati N, Boskabady M, Ghasemi SZ, Boskabady MH. Pharmacological Properties of Allium cepa, Preclinical and Clinical Evidences; A Review. Iran J Pharm Res. 2021 Spring;20(2):107-134.
  • Marefati N, Ghorani V, Shakeri F, Boskabady M, Kianian F, Rezaee R, Boskabady MH. A review of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immunomodulatory effects of Allium cepa and its main constituents. Pharm Biol. 2021 Dec;59(1):287-302.
  • Oduwole, O., Meremikwu, M. M., Oyo-Ita, A., & Udoh, E. E. (2014). Honey for acute cough in children. Evidence-Based Child Health9(2), 303–346.
  • Omenaas, E., Fluge, Buist, A. S., Vollmer, W. M., & Gulsvik, A. (2003). Dietary vitamin C intake is inversely related to cough and wheeze in young smokers. Respiratory Medicine97(2), 134–142.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.