Allium cepa

Common red onion

N.O. Liliaceae

Mode of preparation: For Homeopathic use we use the tincture of the onion or of the whole fresh plant. This is gathered from July to August.


The essential features

Allium cepa has established an undisputed reputation for acting upon the upper respiratory system and in curing common colds that settle in the nose and travel   downwards, with a watery, acrid discharge from the nose while at the same time there is redness of eyes with lacrimation which is bland. It affects primarily the left side of the nose and later on moves to the right side. There is aggravation from warm room and in the evening and amelioration from open air.

In my experience this remedy has been misused for this ailment (common colds) and has been prescribed too frequently when other remedies should have been indicated. A note of warning: since this remedy has in its pathogenesis the tendency to drive the inflammation from the uppermost part of the respiratory system -the nose- downwards -towards the larynx and bronchii-, I have observed in especially sensitive patients with a tendency to developing allergic asthma that their respiratory difficulties are much aggravated from a wrong prescription of Allium cepa. I would warn you not to use high potencies in cases you may suspect such sensitivities and you are not sure about the remedy.

I have found out that if this remedy is really indicated, apart from the other local symptoms mentioned above, we must have an effect upon the head and the whole organism. The patient feels really rotten, has dullness, torpor, difficulty in thinking and much sleepiness. It is very doubtful whether a patient with a cold that has  only the local symptoms on the nose or larynx with a clear head and no general weakness would react to this remedy.

It is a remedy that will cure cases of common colds that spread easily to the ears producing a lot of pains like Pulsatilla, Chamomilla, belladonna, Mercury and Nitric acid, the main remedies that will cure such conditions.

But apart from this extension, Allium cepa is indicated where the cold spreads downwards to the larynx producing a violent laryngitis where the pain during cough is felt as if someone is scratching the throat with hooks. Whooping cough in a child with dreadful pain during coughing compelling him to grasp the larynx and at the same time an upset stomach with vomiting and a lot of flatulence.

It is useful in polypus of the nose. Sometimes it will be indicated in conjuctivitis where the eyes burn and smart as if from smoke with excessive lacrimation. Allium cepa will be indicated where the respiratory system is in a state of constant catarrh which is aggravated in the evening. The catarrh from the nose is almost always acrid and watery, running constantly. Cases of hay fever that have this kind of cattarrh with violent sneezing and which are aggravated in a warm room, in the warmest month – August – and in the evening, while they are ameliorated in the open air, will need this remedy. It is very similar to Pulsatilla except for the acrid cattarrh while in Puls. the discharge is bland.

This remedy will also be indicated in chronic headaches with similar modalities: worse in the evening, worse in a warm room, better open air; headaches are mostly felt in the forehead extending to temples.

Another condition where this remedy is indicated is in neuralgias that have a “thread like” pain. Especially for very bothering neuralgias after amputation where the extension of the pain is felt as if the real limb was there, stump neuralgia, the pains are unbearable, driving the patient to despair. It has traumatic neuritis, and facial paralysis of the left side.

In its mental-emotional sphere we observe a very interesting picture. Allium cepa has a definite effect upon the brain bringing about a state of absent-mindeness with much sleepiness. The brain seems to degenerate easily into a kind of torpor, especially if affected by some wine or coffee. The mind becomes confused but it is a completely passive confusion where the patient does not care about anything. He does not observe what is going on around him. It is as if he were not interested. Great dullness of mind with a definite aggravation in the afternoon. He starts making mistakes in his work, he cannot concentrate, he seems confused as if the mind is under the influence of a lot of barbiturates, yawning all the time, sleepy and disinterested. In writing he makes a lot of mistakes in spelling, misplaces words etc. But remember that the sleepy brain is the main idea behind the symptomatology. Sleepiness with indifference.

This is very much in accordance with the pathogenesis of this remedy, as the onion was known in ancient times to be a hypnagogic, and has been used for sleeplessness  since then. It is peculiar that in our Materia Medica this element is not mentioned in the provings. If anybody eats a lot of onions the first thing he will experience will be sleepiness. Because of this quality of affecting the brain the ancients were actually afraid of using onions in excess.

There is another state to which Allium cepa can move and this is a very serious mental state: the patient may look quite well, but suddenly he may have a disappointment, or he may be offended by something, with the result that the mind is totally thrown out of balance. Following this we see a state of real insanity, a totally passive insanity where the brain does not function at all.

It is a state that can come suddenly in a person who was very balanced before, very conscientious, very meticulous in his cleaning habits, with a lot of warm feelings for his relatives, very sympathetic; he really cared about others. A straight mind that did not hide, was not devious. And suddenly this behaviour changes from one day to another: he does not recognise persons he knew very well before and is totally indifferent towards persons who live with him, like his wife or his parents. He does not understand the meaning of things. You give him money and he does not know what it is. Never mind how much you explain to him what to do, he does not comprehend. It seems that the only thing he wants to do is to go to sleep. He sleeps and sleeps and it is very difficult to wake him up. He goes from a chair to bed  and from the bed to the chair, and falls immediately in a deep soporous sleep. He is lethargic. When you hear such a story and you do not know the mental picture of Allium cepa you will tend to give Opium or Nux-moschata, but Allium cepa fits this mental pathology better. It is interesting that in our books Allium cepa is mentioned in insanity, but nowhere could I find any indication of the type of insanity.

He makes foolish grimaces, foolish gestures and in general his behaviour becomes foolish. He may tease a stranger in the street by making some ridiculous gesture, for instance while travelling in a train he may act as if he were catching a bird. He does not pay attention to others, and has lost the sense of timidity. He may urinate in front of everybody where before he was very timid.

It is interesting that his mode of walking is affected, and he may walk on his toes or step only on the lateral side of his feet. If he gets cross with something or somebody, he will go away, refusing to see anybody, going out for a walk alone. There is a strong element of misanthropy in his behaviour.

In this state his relatives will tell you that he is very serious or rather depressive. He will talk very little and seems completely withdrawn into himself, but in spite of this total confusion and withdrawal in which he lives he is able to attend to his needs. He has an increased appetite and there is a great desire for onions, for instance onions with olive oil. He can eat a lot of raw onions, sometimes nothing else, and there is a general amelioration. You may see this desire many years before the insanity appears, indicating the predisposition to Allium cepa pathology. Usually he avoids cucumbers as they make him feel sick. This is the constitutional type of Allium cepa, which can be a very deep acting remedy if it is really indicated.




It is a remedy for those who have a tendency to take colds that settle in the nose and eyes and extend to the ears, throat, larynx and the bronchii very rapidly. There is a feeling of rawness in all the different stages of his cold with a copious watery excoriating catarrh from the nose which burns like fire and excoriates the upper lip.

Ailments start on the left side and move to the right, especially the discharge from the nose. This remedy is aggravated in a warm room, in a warm enviroment, in August, in Spring, with damp weather and ameliorated in the open air and in a cool room.

There is also an aggravation as the day progresses towards afternoon and evening and we see his cough to be especially aggravated on getting into bed at night.

There is a general aggravation by eating cucumber and amelioration by eating onions. If you have such a symptom you have definitely a case of Allium cepa.

The remedy has the tendency to develop ailments after injuries and operations and it is definitely indicated when there is a thread-like pain aggravated in the evening. It has a peculiar modality: Faint feeling after urinating. Aconite has it also, even more strongly.

Sensation of glowing heat in different parts of the body, the face, the abdomen, the rectum etc. Perspiration has aromatic odor.




It is not difficult to construct the kind of headaches that this remedy produces if you know the general modalities. It has a dull headache during coryza especially if the watery catarrh slows down or stops altogether. There is an aggravation in warm rooms, amelioration in a cool room, worse towards the evening.

The headache is ameliorated if a cattarrh from the nose sets in. Headache ceases during menses and returns when flow disappears. Headache in forehead, above eyes extending to nose.

Headache in side of occiput in forenoon.

Winking aggravates headache in temples.

Stitching headache in sides of forehead extending to jaw; to teeth. Sensation as if head was wrapped up in water.



Inspite of the fact that Allium cepa has profuse bland lacrimation it may have a lot of burning, smarting, biting pain in eyes as if there was smoke in the room, causing a desire to rub them.

Lacrimation in a warm room.

Itching of eyebrows in the evening.

Dim vision – candlelight.



Pain in the ears extending to throat. Shooting in eustachian tube during coryza. Humming noises in ear while lying.

Distant ringing noises in ear.

Swelling below ear.

Sounds seem distant.



The elements that prevail are coryza and hay fever. In both conditions we will see violent and frequent sneezing with acrid discharge from nose eating the hair of the upper lip.

Hay fever worse in August, returns annually, worse in Spring.

The discharge with coryza is worse in a warm room.

Coryza from flowers; from the odor of peaches; in a warm room; ameliorated in the open air and in a cool room. Worse towards the evening. Excoriating discharge from left nostril.

Excoriating discharge from nose with bland discharge from eyes.

Coryza during scarlatina.

Itching on the inside of nose on the right side.

Coryza from left to right.

Burning, smarting pain in wings.


Sensitive to the odor of flowers, acute smell.

Acrid discharge when singing.




Cold air ameliorates pains that may appear in the face.

Paralysis of left side of face. Paralysis with profuse urine.



Constricting pain in tongue.

Dryness of the root of the tongue.

Burning taste in mouth.



Colds from nose settle in the throat. Pain as if hooks are scraping the throat.

Rawness of the throat. Pain in throat going from right to left. Drawing pain extending to ear.

Heat extending to stomach. Sweetish mucus in throat.

Hoarseness. Cold air ameliorates the pain but causes tickling and aggravates the cough. Pain in larynx on coughing, making him grasp his larynx.

Pulsating larynx.

Hoarseness of voice in the Spring.

Tickling in larynx.

Sensation as if larynx is split or torn.




Constricting pain in stomach while sitting. Pain in the area of pylorus.

Pain is ameliorated by walking.

Constriction of cardiac orifice on swallowing.

Frothy eructations in the morning.

Canine hunger.

Desires raw onions which ameliorate in general, desires raw food.

Cucumbers aggravate.



There is a lot of flatulence with rumbling with offensive flatus. Rumbling in abdomen after breakfast.

There are colicky pains with a lot of flatulence which are worse by sitting, or motion.

Pain in hypogastrium after coition.

Pain in the umbilicus while sitting; this pain can be ameliorated or aggravated by walking.

Cramping, griping pain when getting feet wet.

Coldness in sides of abdomen.

Distension before dinner.

Heat in the afternoon.

Dull pain in hypochondria in the evening; in inguinal region in the afternoon; after coffee.




Diarrhea after midnight from 4 to 6 A.M.

Moist flatus.

Glowing heat in rectum. Coldness in rectum.

Constriction preventing stool.

Itching and rhagades in anus.


Urinary organs

Heat in bladder.

Retention of urine after getting feet wet.

Aching pain after coition.

Burning; pressing pain in morning at 10 A.M.

Pain in bladder after coition.

Pain in prostate gland after coition. Walking aggravates pain.

Copious urine with coryza.

Yellow, reddish sediment.



Genitalia – male

Painful erections in the morning.

Painful erections without desire.

Strong erections on waking in the morning.

Pain in spermatic cords extending into testes.

Aching pain in spermatic cords.




Cold air aggravates hacking cough.

Grasps his throat when coughing, grasps larynx involuntarily at every cough, feels as though larynx would be torn.

Going from warm room to cold air, or vice versa, aggravates.

Oppressed breathing from pressure in the middle of the chest.

Wandering pain in chest.

Pain on swallowing.

Feels pain behind sternum, when swallowing, as if food had lodged there. Burning pain on sides of chest.




Pain in dorsal region, right scapula, while lying; under right scapula after sitting.

Coldness, chill extending down back at 9 P.M.

Shivering extending down back.



Joints feel lame, numb, especially the elbow aggravated by motion.

Trembling of the hand in the evening.

Felon. Heat in the back of the hand.

Heaviness of hip.

Weakness in hip prevents finishing coition.

Pain in joints worse evening.

Burning pain in the upper arm extending downwards .

Foot ulcers from rubbing of the shoe especially on heels.

Urticaria on thighs.




Yawning with headache.

Yawning while he is in a deep sleep.

Wakes at 2 A.M.

Dreams of precipices, of high places, the sea, storms at sea; wells.



Red streaks running up, panaritium, ulcers in heels from rubbing shoes.



RESPIRATORY Catarrrh. Cold. Coryza. Cough. Hay fever. Influenza. Laryngitis. Pneumonia. Whooping cough.


Fissures of anus. Panaritium. Facial paralysis. Traumatic chronic neuritis. Neuralgia.



Effects of exposure to damp cold winds and weather. Spring colds, hay fever in August. Wet feet. Injuries. Surgical operations. Mortification.



Compare: Allium sativum, Aloe, Convallaria majalis, Euphrasia, Gelsemium, Lillium tigrinum, Scilla

It is incompatible with: Allium sativum, Aloe, Scilla

It is complementary to: Phosphorum, Pulsatilla, Sarsaparilla, Thuja

Also compare: Aconitum, Chlorum, Ipecacuanha, Lachesis Remedies that follow well: Calcarea silicata



Coffee and warm food are inimical.



From the lowest to the highest.