Human beings have experimented and identified foods with multiple health-giving properties over the millennium.

In traditional Chinese medicine, onions are said to enhance chi or energy. They induce urination and perspiration. It is recommended for consumption when the weather is cold. Onion ameliorates respiratory stress caused by cold weather.

Herbal medicine systems of both China and India regard onion as beneficial to the cardiovascular system. It helps reduce blood platelet aggregation and cholesterol levels. Onion, both ripe and green, are said to help improve digestion. They also keep oral bacteria under check.

Onions are also anti-inflammatory and can help reduce arthritic and associated pains in bones and joints.

Both Chinese and traditional Indian herbal medicine systems claim that onion and its seed enhance libido. Hot water extract of onion is an aphrodisiac for both men and women.

Onion was used to treating colds, improve digestion, heart ailments, blisters, boils, and topical scars.

Fresh onion is consumed to lessen amenorrhea, menstrual, and uterine pains. Mixed with Adhatoda vasica and honey, onion is recommended to treat tuberculosis. Unani and Ayurveda doctors use onion in dried, roasted, fresh, and juice forms to treat respiratory, gastric, eye diseases, and diabetes.

Garlic’s initial use was probably as a food preservative. The strong garlic flavor would have helped mask foul odor emanating from food stored for extended periods. To fresh food, it added flavor and taste. Garlic, over time, has become part of the daily human diet across the globe.

There are extensive references to its medicinal properties in the Charaka Samhita and the Sushruta Samhita, ancient Indian medical texts. Both Indians and Chinese regard garlic as an aphrodisiac. It aids digestion, improves respiration, and gets rid of intestinal worm infestation (Woodward, 1996). It helps in enhancing qi—life energy. Charaka Samhita recommends using garlic to treat heart disease and arthritis. Garlic’s effect is also said to be diuretic.

Additional reading:

Asian herbs and their wondrous health-giving properties

Holy Herbs: Modern Connections to Ancient Plants

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