WritersButt Wednesday – Onion and Honey Save the Day

Welcome to another WritersButt Wednesday where I talk about all things fitness and nutrition related and improving the mind-body connection to improve your overall health and boost your creativity.

Nothing puts a crimp in your creativity like being sick. With the winter months approaching, we’ll be spending more time indoors, houses shut up tight to keep out the cold, sharing each other’s cooties. In addition, people don’t eat as healthy during the winter months, consuming far more sugary treats, which suppresses the immune system and introduces all sorts of unfavorable side effects.

Tip: Your best defense against getting sick is to keep to the WritersButt course. Clean eating. 100 oz water daily. Physical activity throughout your day. Fresh air!

But getting sick is inevitable. My daughter just got over a case of parainfluenza. It started with fatigue and a sore throat moving into a fever of 101-102 for 3 days and full laryngitis for 4 days. (It was VERY quiet around Casa Calem) While she didn’t develop a hacking cough, when she did cough, it had the dry, barking sounds associated with croup.

Being that I have three children, ages 12-16 years, this was not my first trip about this block. I stocked up on ibuprofen, throat lozenges robitussin and poor-baby food. But Delaney just whispered one request, “Honey-Spoon”.

Let me explain. When our oldest was little and needed to take Dimetapp for allergies, we’d give it to him in those medicine syringes. It didn’t take him long to associate that syringe with yucky stuff. One time he needed antibiotics for an ear infection and he was not cooperating in the least. In the effort to trick encourage him, I told him he could have some on a spoon with yummy juice. (or chocolate, or soda … anything!) He was young enough that this sounded like it might be something fun. Ha! From that day forward, we’ve referred to meds as ‘spoon’ in our house. Allergy-spoon. Cough-spoon. Fever-spoon.

Onion, Honey, Lemon

But ‘Honey-Spoon’ or ‘Onion-Spoon’ is indeed special. It is a homemade cough syrup using onion, honey and lemon. It truly works. It does not taste bad. It’s cheap. It’s real food that heals!

ONION: Has antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. Also been found useful as a diuretic and as an effective expectorant (this would make it helpful for fighting coughs, colds and flu bugs). In addition, onions contain thiosulfi nate – a sulphurcontaining compound that reduces bronchial constriction. They are also mucolytic, reducing the viscosity, or thickness, of mucus, allowing it to be eliminated more easily.

HONEY: offers incredible antiseptic, antioxidant and cleansing properties for our body and health. ((Warning – do NOT give honey to any child under the age of 1.)

LEMON: control Blood Pressure, purifies blood, reduces swollen spleen, and strengthens immune system as it has vitamin C, B, B2, calcium and iron. It protects your body against germs and bacteria.


Cut up a large onion in big chunks. Throw in a glass or plastic container that has a lid. Liberally drizzle honey all over the onion. Squeeze the juice of a few lemons over the mixture. Cover and wait.

Drizzle-Drizzle that honey

Over a few hours, the honey will extract the juice from the onion. I stir or shake up the container from time to time. I will add more honey if I feel it looks too dry. Eventually, you will have lots of ‘syrup’ at the bottom of the container. You may remove the onion chunks or strain it. Normally, I just tip the container and dip a spoon in there to fill up a medicine cup measuring a few teaspoons. Can be given every few hours. (2-4 tsp for adults every couple hours or 1-2 tsp for children every few hours.) Once you have a good ‘syrup’ in your container, store in the refrigerator and use within a few days.

This syrup will help loosen congestion, ease coughs and soothe a sore throat.

Helpful Tip: The unfortunate thing is that when onions are cooked, most of the beneficial effects we get from onions are greatly reduced or even lost during the cooking process, so you should eat them raw whenever possible. Some have even suggested juicing onions and adding two to three teaspoons of honey to the juice as a way to maximize their beneficial potential. This juice, taken for a period of about three weeks, will reduce the length and severity of a cold, the flu or other virus. A good buying tip is that the smellier and stronger the onion, the more potent its healing properties are.

Helpful Tip: Another great old-school trick to help with croup, you know that dry, barking cough, is steam. In our house, we use the smallest bathroom, put the shower on full heat and sit and read in there (on the floor or a stool) until the hot water runs outs and the steam dissipates. We even put a towel at the base of the door so no steam will escape. It’s also helpful to rub vapor-rub all over the chest and neck. (I’ve also heard that it’s beneficial to follow the steam treatment by going out into cold air immediately after. If it’s warm where you are, head into the freezer it is!)

Last Tip: Regarding Vapor Rub. You can make your own Vapor Shower Disks. I think making a bunch of these and having them on hand would be great throughout the winter! Thanks to Myndi Shafer for finding me that great link!

Speaking of Myndi, I’m making a version of her “Italian” chicken and veggies tonight for dinner. My stomach is already rumbling for what is to come!

Whew, that was a lot of tips and info. Anyone else have any at home remedies that you swear by for common ailments? I’d love to hear them.

AND – since we are not all children in this house, I’ll take all those hot-toddy recipes! Who’s got the best one?


About Ginger Calem

I never met a notebook I didn't want to buy. Pens speak to me. Sticky notes are dear to my heart. Some of my best friends are those clambering in my head trying to get onto the page. And when they have their stories told, and I release them to the world, I hope they'll be your friends too.

Posted on November 7, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Julie O'Connell

    Our toddy recipe is simple. Hot water, honey to taste, a bunch of lemon juice and a healthy shot of Irish whiskey. 🙂 Tastes delicious, helps you sleep, and the honey and lemon juice are so good for you!

  2. This post’s title would be a great name for a children’s book, Ginger! I could totally see you writing a sweet one. Just saying… 😉

  3. I’ve done a lot of research over the past year and a half (hypothyroidism, gluten issues, and an extremely low vitamin D level). One thing I’m trying to do better at is to get sufficient vitamin D because it affects us in SO many way (fatigue, pain, immune system…the list goes on and on). For home remedies though, I like ‘tomato tea’ for colds/sore throat-both inhaling the steam from it, and sipping it…very soothing for the throat, and if you use enough cayenne pepper, it helps a stuffy nose. I also use a lot of organic apple cider vinegar. I especially love ACV with a little baking soda, water and cayenne pepper for indigestion. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve bought an antacid because it works so much better (and faster).

    I’ve done honey and onion before, but didn’t know about the lemon juice. Doesn’t matter anymore though. While my taste buds love onions, my stomach apparently doesn’t care for them anymore. Major stomach aches. If someone could figure out a way for me to eat them again, it would be great. All the foods I love so much taste really bland without them…and dried onions are the worst.

    • Thanks, Kristy for those ideas. I’m going to look into them. I absolutely love learning new things. Too bad about the onions. I don’t care for raw onion, although I do cook with it a lot. I didn’t think I’d care for this syrup because the onion was raw but the honey (and lemon) take care of that raw-onion flavor. Do you think the juice of the onion would give you the stomach ache?

      Regarding Vit D. I do take a daily supplement of D in the winter months when I’m not getting so much sun as I do most of the rest of the year.

  4. Awesome tips! Thank you, Ginger. Julie and I have the same toddy recipe. 🙂

  5. I always learn something cool when I visit your site, Ginger! I knew honey and lemon were good for a cold/cough and I usually have them in tea. But I’d never heard of the onion juice. I’m gonna make up some of this stuff for sure next time I have a cold. I like Julie’s and Rhonda’s hot toddy recipe as well.

    • Thanks, Kassandra. I think the onion makes a big difference. We’ve had this without the lemon and it’s fine that way too but the lemon takes good and also has good properties to it so I think it’s a great addition. Hope it helps next time you’re feeling icky.

  6. This sounds like what we needed when battling croup two weeks ago. Can’t wait to try it, Ginger! Our feel better drink isn’t as fun as a toddy; half a lemon, juiced, half a lime, juiced, half an orange, juiced, plus honey, hot water and a dash of cayenne pepper.

  7. On of my favorite childhood memories is of having a cold, feeling miserable, and Mom making lemon and honey and giving it to us with a spoon, just enough to cover the tip for each “bite.” I remember faking a worse cough so she would come in! The medicine worked, and so did the love. That’s still my go-to remedy for a sore throat.

    As an adult, several of us had colds at one Christmas gathering. My earth-mother sister in law wanted us to eat raw garlic cloves, and I was the only one with the guts. One clove was quite a whopper! But that’s all it took – my cold went away by the next day and everyone else suffered for a week.

    • What a great memory. Thanks for sharing it. It makes me feel like I do when I call medicine ‘spoon’. I wonder if my kids will call it spoon for their kids? Hey, garlic has tons of healing properties, as you found out. I’ve never tried to eat a whole clove raw but I bet I’d love it. I adore garlic. If you eat a lot of garlic, it’s also supposed to be a natural insect repellent. Mosquitos don’t like the smell of it in your sweat and your skin.

      Thanks for the tip and the smile!

  8. well. I definitely need to bookmark THIS page!
    happy winter everybody.

  9. I don’t do hot toddy, but I have been drinking something my mother calls “Hon-hon a lem-lem” since I was little. It’s basically hot water with raw honey and fresh lemon squeezed in. As an adult, I have changed the hot water to peppermint tea, because that feels good on my throat when I’m sick. And if my throat is really bad, I also add some fresh ginger root. That’ll clear up a sore throat very quickly. Now, if only I could find a way to skip winter all together…

  10. As I read, I told myself I could make this concoction with Texas sweet onions and get it down. Then I came to this sentence: “A good buying tip is that the smellier and stronger the onion, the more potent its healing properties are. ” Argh.

    I’m using your recipe as a threat to my body, Ginger. If it dares get sick, it knows what to expect: onion spoon

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