Skepticism

Onions and Swine Flu

One of my dear friends is a hair stylist and one thing she has taught me is that those ladies at the salon love to talk. I have been kept on top of many a rumor thanks to my lovely, hair-chopping friend and the latest story is one that I thought I should share.

Apparently, there is really NO need to get the scary flu shot and you don’t even need to “boost” (whatever the heck that means) your immune system because all you really need my friends, is just a few onions laying around.
Onion Flu Cure

Thats right! The latest H1N1 fake-cure is an old wives tale dredged up for your entertainment. The not-so-new story being regurgitated and circulated by email and apparently by hair salon customers, goes like this:

In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people there was this Doctor that visited the many farmers to see if he could help them combat the flu. Many of the farmers and their family had contracted it and many died.

The doctor came upon this one farmer and to his surprise, everyone was very healthy. When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion onionsin a dish in the rooms of the home, (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn’t believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and placed it under the microscope. She gave him one and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion. It obviously absorbed the virus, therefore, keeping the family healthy.

Now, I heard this story from my hairdresser in AZ. She said that several years ago many of her employees were coming down with the flu and so were many of her customers. The next year she placed several bowls with onions around in her shop. To her surprise, none of her staff got sick. It must work.. (And no, she is not in the onion business.)

The moral of the story is, buy some onions and place them in bowls around your home. If you work at a desk, place one or two in your office or under your desk or even on top somewhere. Try it and see what happens. We did it last year and we never got the flu.

If this helps you and your loved ones from getting sick, all the better. If you do get the flu, it just might be a mild case..

Whatever, what have you to lose? Just a few bucks on onions

Yes, I thought it was cute that the legend has a hairdresser in it and that hairdressers and salon visitors are spreading the rumor still. It reminds me of Airborn’s “created by a school teacher” nonsense. Forget what all the doctors and scientists say because I heard of a really stinky hair salon where they placed onions all over and no one onions and flugot the flu! So just do that!

This is just a theory but maybe no one got the flu because no one wanted to go to the salon that smelled like rotten onions? Not to mention the fact that all the hair stylists were most likely crying all day from being forced by their crazy boss to cut onions during their shift. Just a theory.

The rest of the story is nothing but anecdote. I have assless chaps that I wore last year and I NEVER got the flu. You should totally wear assless chaps too. What do you have to loose? Just a few bucks spent on assless chaps?

Here are some pesky facts. The flu is a virus which is spread by contact. You get sneezed or coughed on by someone who is infected or you touch a surface that has been touched by someone who has left a droplet of the virus, you pick up the virus and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth and bam, you have the virus. The flu is not going to float around until it is touched by an onion-magneto-field. Onions are not going to suck the virus out of someone walking by. Onions will not not protect you with a spicy forcefield. Onions will not boost your immune system because that is not plausible (unless you are a pirate and you have scurvy, then maybe enough raw onions will help you). You can eat them, slice them, hang them from the ceiling, feng shui them, sauté them, fry them, blend them in a smoothy or my particular favorite, french onion soupify them and they still won’t protect you from the flu. They will protect you from hunger if prepared deliciously. One other fact is this: Every time a pseudoscientific claim or baseless rumor is spread about the flu virus more people turn away from legitimate care, which means more people’s lives are put at risk. There is no magic cure for what ails us, but there is science and evidence based medicine and that is the best method for understanding disease and the best defense against illness we have.

So stop making silly excuses and more importantly, stop being a sissy and go get your flu shots!

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Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics. She is the fearless leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+. Tip Jar is here.

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42 Comments

  1. Homer: Not a bear in sight. The “Bear Patrol” is working like a charm!
    Lisa: That’s specious reasoning, Dad.
    Homer: [uncomprehendingly] Thanks, honey.
    Lisa: By your logic, I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
    Homer: Hmm. How does it work?
    Lisa: It doesn’t work; it’s just a stupid rock!
    Homer: Uh-huh.
    Lisa: But I don’t see any tigers around, do you?
    Homer: (pause) Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

  2. The onion and garlic in my split pea soup the other night definetly added a nice yummy flavor to the mix. I don’t think it did anything to prevent the flu.

    I read the whole thing and all I can think is “Amy wears assless chaps.” and “Aren’t all chaps assless? Wouldn’t they just be leather pants otherwise.” and “I think I missed the point.”

  3. I just, and I mean _just now_, told the office medical quack about this, in order to point out how ridiculous it is. Her response? It couldn’t hurt… and you can always eat them.

    She is now out getting onions. I kid you not.

  4. I shot this one down at my office as well. It’s funny I try to ignore everyone most of the time and pretend not to hear half the stuff I hear but when some woo comes up, I feel compelled to respond.

    I tell people time and time again to read snopes when they get these e-mails but they never do.

  5. Which reminds me, I need to slice a mess o’ onions for focaccia tonight.

    Personally, I believe in keeping lots of garlic around. As we all know, it’s those bloody vampires who really cause those “flu-like symptoms”.

  6. Apparently, we now have to worry about cats getting swine flu. Mine have been sneezing for a couple of days now. If onions weren’t bad for them, I’d pitch a couple into their toy box. [‘It’s round!! It rolls! Even at 3AM!!’]

  7. In fact, I’m changing my avatar, lest a computer virus get past the onions and infect The Grey Cat. [Well, OK, because she doesn’t show well in that tiny a picture.]

    Seriously, how can people believe this carp? I suppose they’re the same ones who buy the bang-it-against-your-head-cure-your-headache stuff that’s advertised on late-night TV.

    If I had fewer principles – and could prevent myself from giggling uncontrollably – I’d start growing Flunionsâ„¢ for the next [animal-to-be-named-later] flu outbreak.

  8. When we got H1N1 (yes, all of us – FUN!), I admit to eating fewer onions as I was slumped over from fatigue and taking care of a 9 year old. I did find that having a packet of Tamiflu next to the onions caused my case to be of shorter duration. Causation or correlation?

  9. @ZenMonkey: I understand that while having onions laying around technically won’t hurt you in the short term, what will hurt you in the long run is encouraging a lack of critical thinking. It’s like saying, aw homeopathy won’t hurt ya, it’s just water.

  10. I’m totally going to learn how to work with leather. I’m going to use care and skill to make a pair of “assed chaps”. Once these catch on and “go viral”, then and only then shall “assless chaps” be the fashion statement that Madonna wants them to be.

    Madonna? Perhaps I should update my pop culture references. Ok, how about:

    …blood covered, kermit-the-frog emblazened assless chaps shall become the fashion statement that Lady GaGa wants them to be.

    Better.

  11. You all have got it all wrong. See, the cut onions produce an aerosol of syn-propanethial-S-oxide which stimulates lachrymatory-factor synthase that destroys the H1N1 influenza virus. You can tell it is working due to the increased oleamide being extruded.

    But seriously….

    My grandfather, who was part of the AEF that was sent to Europe to fight in WWI, got gassed in Bellau Wood and was sent home on a troop ship that had a major outbreak of the 1918 influenza virus (a bit less than half the ship came down with it). He swore he survived because he drank “hot pepper tea” (which was a concoction of a cup of boiling hot water and two tablespoons of ground up black pepper) six times a day and spent most of his time on deck so the cold North Atlantic air would “tighten up his pores”. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the part that mattered was almost certainly being up on deck.

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