Putting onions in your socks might sound odd, but onions have a long history as a medical remedy, and some people say this practice can treat infections, such as the cold or flu.

According to the folk remedy, if you come down with a cold or the flu, all you have to do is slice a red or white onion into rounds, place them on the bottoms of your feet, and put on a pair of socks. Leave the socks on overnight as you sleep.

In the morning, you’ll wake up cured.

Here, find out where this remedy came from and what the research says about it.

This remedy may have started as early as the 1500s, according to the National Onion Association, when it was widely believed that placing raw, cut-up onion around your home could protect you from the bubonic plague.

In those days, people believed that infections were spread by miasma, or poisonous, noxious air. Scientists have since replaced miasma theory with the evidenced-based germ theory.

Onions are rich in sulphuric compounds, which give them their pungent odor.

According to folklore, placing them on the feet allows these compounds to infiltrate the body. There, they kill bacteria and viruses and purify the blood.

Articles that make such claims also mention that placing onions around the room will rid the air of viruses, toxins, and chemicals.

The general idea of putting onions in your socks may also stem from the ancient Chinese medicinal practice of foot reflexology.

The nerves in the feet have been a focal point of Eastern medicine for thousands of years and are thought to act as access points to the internal organs.

What are some other health benefits of onions?

No studies have specifically assessed the benefit of putting onions in your socks or anywhere else on your body.

Dozens of online articles advocate putting onions in your socks, but they cite no experimental evidence. They rely only on claims and anecdotes.

No studies have been done to refute the claim of onions in the sock, either, but the mechanism by which this remedy is said to work is also questionable.

Onions are slightly acidic, so they may have antibacterial results if rubbed onto things. According to Dr. Ruth MacDonald, professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University, they “are much less effective than bleach or chemical antibiotics.”

Viruses also require direct contact with a human host to spread. Therefore, an onion would not be able to draw in virus and absorb it.

Moreover, there is little evidence that foot reflexology can treat any medical condition, and some research suggests it may make infections worse.

Plenty of people around the internet swear by this remedy, but all signs point toward a placebo effect.

If you have the flu and are willing to try anything to bounce back, the good news is that putting onions in your socks is unlikely to hurt you.

There have been no reports of harm from this practice.

If you want to help out your immune system, it may be better to eat your onions rather than stick them in your socks. It’s well known that eating onions, like most vegetables, is good for your health.

Onions are a great source of vitamin C, a vitamin that plays an important role in immune function.

Regular consumption of the organosulfur compounds found in onions and garlic may also prevent the development of cardiovascular disease, according to a 2020 review.

Putting onions in your socks won’t hurt you, but it probably won’t help, either. To get the full benefit from onions and to help your body recover from or prevent an illness, try eating them as part of a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

To improve your chances of avoiding colds and flu, wash your hands, avoid contact with sick people, and consider getting a flu shot. Also, make sure you get enough sleep.