Melinda Beck has a terrific article in today’s Wall Street Journal about home remedies for the H1N1 virus and (as we have previously blogged) the FDA’s efforts to reign in those making unsupported marketing claims for their remedies.
One remedy sweeping the blogosphere like wildfire is the use of onions to soak up flu bugs. I did a Google search on the topic "onion flu remedy" and while a couple of articles came up debunking the idea (including Ms. Beck’s), far more were articles claiming that the home remedy was in fact effective.
I turned then to Snopes.com, the great arbiter of urban legends, and it’s verdict was unequivocal: false. The article did a nice job of tracing the history of onion/flu fetishism well into the nineteenth century, though I suspect one can go further, perhaps to ancient Rome and Greece.
Unlike most quack claims made for flu remedies, the onion cure at least has the advantage of being inexpensive and, particuiarly if you’re using raw, unpeeled onion, completely benign.
Ms. Beck was, however, quite positive on my own family’s way of dealing with any form of illness, chicken soup. Her article even includes a chicken soup recipe, which is not too far from the recipe my family has used for generations (although the key to ours is a kosher chicken). Chicken soup may not cure anything (though the title of an abstract listed at the bottom of recipe suggests it might), but it sure feels good on a sore throat.