Onion for Coughing in Children: Does It Work?

Onion has been said to be effective in reducing coughing in children. However, scientific evidence doesn't confirm this. Learn more.
Onion for Coughing in Children: Does It Work?
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Reviewed and approved by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 18 May, 2023

Children often get the flu and colds during the first days of school or daycare. Although they’re not serious conditions, they can cause some annoying symptoms. Therefore, today, we’re going to tell you what science says about the effectiveness of using onion as a natural remedy for coughing in children.

The first thing to keep in mind is that proper nutrition reduces the incidence of all these respiratory diseases. In this sense, it’s essential that you maximize the amount of vitamin C and zinc in the diet of your children. Both nutrients stimulate the immune system and help fight the entry of pathogenic microorganisms.

The relationship between onion and the treatment of coughing in children

A variety of suggested natural remedies for couphs, including oions, garlic, citric fruits, honey, and more.

Onion fumes irritate the eyes and, according to popular wisdom, also help improve coughs. According to many, all you need to do is divide a piece of this vegetable into quarters and put it in a bowl on your child’s bedside table to avoid the discomfort of a cold. But is this truly effective?

It’s true that it is a natural and innocuous remedy that doesn’t harm the health of little ones. However, there’s no type of scientific evidence that supports its effectiveness. For this reason, experts are betting on other types of practices that have shown positive results in clinical trials.

Effective remedies to calm coughing in children

According to a study published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, consuming honey before bed could significantly alleviate nighttime coughing in children.

Although the evidence in this regard is limited, this measure can be implemented due to its good risk-reward ratio. Of course, it’s always best that the honey is of good quality, with a high content of royal jelly.

Another option is to prepare a syrup with onion and honey to relieve this cold symptom. To achieve this, you need to perform the following steps:

  1. Peel and cut an onion into very small pieces.
  2. Add to a food container along with the juice of 4 lemons and 4 tablespoons of honey.
  3. Close the container and let the mixture marinate overnight.
  4. To use the syrup, simply offer your child a couple of tablespoons.

Just the same, you must take into account that this remedy isn’t valid for small babies because they can develop infant botulism. So, you need to put off the consumption of this food until the child’s first birthday. From then on, the immune system becomes more competent and the risk of suffering from this poisoning is reduced.

The use of pharmacology

It’s important to note that there are certain drugs that work to relieve coughs in children. But these shouldn’t be used for any type of cough, and you need to have the corresponding medical prescription.

When their use is properly justified, these drugs can improve rest and contribute to a speedy recovery.

Onion doesn’t seem to reduce coughing in children

Honey, lemon, and onion tea for a cough.

As you have seen, there’s no evidence in favor of onion vapors as a remedy to calm coughing in children. There are also no compelling arguments from the point of view of physiology and it seems to be nothing more than a simple popular belief.

For this reason, we recommend that you implement other types of natural strategies for the symptoms of a cold. If your child is older than one year, you can implement honey and consult your doctor for some appropriate pharmacological options.

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.

  • Consolini D. M. Tos en los niños. Manual MSD. Junio 2020.
  • Grabowski, N. T., & Klein, G. (2017). Microbiology and foodborne pathogens in honey. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 57(9), 1852–1862. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2015.1029041
  • Harvard T. H. Chan. Nutrition and Immunity. Harvard School of Public Health.
  • Oduwole, O., Udoh, E. E., Oyo-Ita, A., & Meremikwu, M. M. (2018). Honey for acute cough in children. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 4(4), CD007094. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD007094.pub5
  • Solo Josephson P. Tos. Nemour’s Children Care. Abril 2022.

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