Onion – Introduction, Health Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects of Allium Cepa

Table of Contents

1. What is Onion?
2. Common Names
2.  Morphology
3. Chemical Compound
4. Habitat
5. Ayurvedic Properties of Onion
6. Health Benefits & Uses of Onion
7. Side Effects of Onion

1. What is Onion?

Welcome to the world of Onions, where layers of flavor meet a multitude of potential health benefits. Scientifically known as Allium Cepa, this versatile vegetable has been a staple in kitchens and traditional remedies for ages, celebrated for its pungent aroma and its role in enhancing both taste and well-being.

Onion has been used as an herbal remedy since ancient times, and physicians of ancient Egypt prescribed onions for various diseases. Dioscorides in the first century A.D. attributed many healing virtues to onions. In 1835, onion and milk diets were advocated for dropsy.

Onion was a popular food in ancient Egypt, it is high in food value, moderate in protein content, and rich in calcium and riboflavin. There is considerable variation in the composition of different varieties.

In this post, we embark on a journey to uncover the secrets of Allium Cepa, delving into its historical significance, the spectrum of benefits it holds, and the myriad ways it can elevate your culinary creations and vitality. From its potential to support heart health and boost immune function to its role in imparting depth to dishes, Onions stand as a versatile ingredient with layers of virtues.

2. Common Names of Onion

Onion scientific name is Allium Cepa, and some other common names are piyaz, and Kanda, it is one of the oldest cultivated herbs, and the Sanskrit word for onion is palandu, which is mentioned in the Garuda Purana. Maharishi Atteya and Lord Dhanwantri have described the use of onions in detail.


Onion – Introduction, Health Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects of Allium Cepa – 2022

3. Morphology 

The onion is an annual biennial herb, it has a superficial root system and a very short, flattened stem at the base which increases in diameter as it grows. Leaves are long, linear, and hollow, a bulb is formed by the thickening of the leaf base when the plant reaches a critical stage. The fruit is a spherical capsule, and all parts of the onion produce a strong odor when crushed.

4. Chemical Compound

The chemical composition also varies with the stage of maturity and the length of storage, the matured onions contain approx. 86.6% moisture, 1.2% protein, 0.1% fat, 0.6% fiber, 0.4% minerals and 11.1% carbohydrate, per 100 grams of edible portion. Carbohydrate is principally in the form of sugars. It's mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C. Its calorific value is 51.

The scales of onion contain catechol and protocatechuic acid, the odor in onion is due to organic sulfur compounds and is produced only when the tissues are cut or injured by enzyme action. On a water-soluble amino acid. Heat or freeze-drying prevents the enzyme’s action so that cooking produces a different odor, flavor, and pungency.

5. Habitat 

Onion is believed to have originated in Central Asia but has been cultivated since ancient times in the Middle East and India. Present areas of cultivation include India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, China, Egypt, West and East Africa, tropical south and Central America, and the Caribbean.

In India, it is cultivated throughout the country, the most important onion-growing states are Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh.

Onion – Introduction, Health Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects of Allium Cepa – 2022

6. Ayurvedic Properties of Onion

Onion, known as "Palandu" in Ayurveda, is commonly used in culinary practices and possesses various medicinal properties.

Ayurvedic properties of onion:

1. Rasa (Taste): Onion is believed to have a pungent (Katu) and slightly sweet (Madhura) taste.

2. Virya (Potency): It is heating in nature (Ushna Virya).

3. Vipaka (Post-digestive taste): The post-digestive taste is pungent (Katu Vipaka).

4. Dosha Effects: Onion is generally considered balancing for Kapha dosha and Vata dosha, but its heating nature can increase Pitta dosha in excess.

Ayurvedic Uses:

  1. Digestive Health: Onion can stimulate digestion and appetite, enhance digestion, and alleviate gas and bloating.

  2. Immune System: Onion's antimicrobial and immune-enhancing properties can support overall immune health and wellness.

  3. Respiratory Health: Onion is used in Ayurveda to manage respiratory conditions, as it may help manage cough, congestion, and other respiratory discomforts.

  4. Detoxification: Onion supports detoxification by aiding in the elimination of waste products from the body.

  5. Anti-inflammatory: Onion contains compounds with anti-inflammatory effects, making it beneficial for managing inflammatory conditions.

  6. Blood Sugar Support: Some studies suggest that onion may have a positive impact on blood sugar levels.

  7. Cardiovascular Health: Onion's potential to support heart health includes promoting healthy blood circulation and managing cholesterol levels.

7. Health Benefits and Uses of Onion

Onions are of great therapeutic value; they are stimulated and mildly counter-irritant. They have diuretic properties and promote the removal of catarrhal matter and phlegm from bronchial tubes.

Here are some Health Benefits and Uses of Onion


Onions are noted for their easily assimilable iron content, they are therefore beneficial in treating anemia.


Onion is an effective remedy for cholera, about 30 grams of onion and finely pounded seven black peppers can be given to the patient. It allays thirst, and restlessness and lessens vomiting and diarrhea. The addition of a little sugar to the recipe increases its effectiveness.

Ear Disorders

Cotton wool dipped in onion juice and put into the ear is a popular Russian remedy for noises in the ear, a few drops of heated juice put into the ear relieve earache. 

Heart Attack

Scientific researchers have established onion as an effective preventive edible against heart attack. This benefit is due to the presence of essential oil, Allyl propyl disulfide, catechol, protocatechuic acid, Thio propionaldehyde, thiocyanate, minerals, and vitamins.

After years if research, Dr. N. Radhakrishnan, Principle of the Trivandrum Medical College, and Dr. K. Madhavan Kutty established, that to get rid of the disorders due to coronary disease or blood pressure, one should take 100 grams of onion pre day. It assists the functioning of the heart by correcting thrombosis besides reducing blood cholesterol.


Onions are very effective in bleeding piles, about 30 grams of onions finely ground on a slab with water and 60 grams of sugar added taken twice daily brings relief within a few days.

Respiratory Diseases

Onions have the property to liquefy the phlegm and prevent its recurrence, it has been used as an herbal remedy for centuries for cold, cough, bronchitis, and influenza. Three to four tsp of onion juice and honey mixed in equal proportions taken daily is effective in treating these conditions, it is one of the safest preventive medicines against the common cold during winter.

Skin Disorders

Onion irritates the skin and stimulates blood circulation in mucous membranes. Warts sometimes disappear when rubbed with cut onions.

Teeth Disorders

New Russian medical research has reconfirmed the bactericidal properties of onion, a person consuming at least one raw onion every day after thorough mastication is protected from a host of teeth disorders. Chewing raw onion for 3 minutes is sufficient to kill all germs in the mouth. Toothache is often alleviated by placing a small piece of onion on the affected tooth or gum.


Onions possess some germicidal properties has been known for centuries, recently two Italian doctors, E. Cuboin and C. Moriandi found that the injection of onion juice prevented the development of tuberculosis in animals injected with germs of tuberculosis. Patients with tuberculosis have improved following adequate consumption of onions.

Urinary Disorders

Onions are highly beneficial in treating disorders of the urinary system, for burning sensation while passing urine, take 6 grams of onion boiled in 500 grams of water till water reduces to half, then cool, strain, and give to the patient to relieve burning sensation.

Onion grated with water on a stone slab and mixed with 60 grams of sugar, is effective in treating urine, it stimulates free urination within a short time.

Other Uses

Onion is an important aphrodisiac food, second only to garlic, it increases libido and strengthens the reproductive organs. The white onion should be peeled, crushed, and fired in pure butter. This mixture acts as an excellent aphrodisiac tonic if taken regularly with a spoon of honey on an empty stomach.

The immature and mature onion bulbs can be eaten raw or cooked, they are used in soups and sauces for seasoning much food. Small white leaf bases – before the bulbs are formed – are eaten raw or in salads.

8. Side Effects of Onions

All Ayurveda herbs are plant-based and don’t have any side effects, but they may react with some allopathy or homeopathy medicine. It is better to consult the doctor if you are on any medications or have unique health issues.

White onion is preferable to the red and yellow varieties, onions should be taken with meals preferably raw, fried, or cooked onions are comparatively difficult to digest. For therapeutic purposes, it is advisable to use onion juice instead of whole onion. Being a stimulating and irritating food, one should avoid excess consumption.


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