How Onions Help in Arthritis?

If you are suffering from painful and stiff joints, then you might be having arthritis!

The most common being - osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and gout. Drugs and various different surgical options are available to help the patients cope up with disease symptoms.

Also, regular exercise and a healthy diet are equally important for patients with arthritis. Many times patients experience tremendous relief by following a particular diet plan or by the inclusion of a specific food item in their diet.

Thus there is no harm in trying out a few home remedies to help alleviate the disease symptoms in patients.

How Do Onions help in Arthritis?

Arthritis affects numerous people across the globe. The affected individuals suffer from joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation.

In chronic cases, patients face severe deformity in joints leading to hindrance in joint movement and mobility.

Certain patients undergo joint replacement surgeries in order to replace the excessively damaged joints.

We definitely have many strategies to fight against arthritis, but they just help in relieving the symptoms.

Under such circumstances, it is better to turn to nature to find natural remedies for the problems faced by the patients.

One such natural remedy to fight inflammation is the use of Onions.

Yes, it is true! A remedy as simple as a bag of onion could help you relieve from the arthritic pain and swelling!

Onions are a widely used vegetable in the world. People use them in various forms. They can be eaten raw or stir-fried, or else boiled.

Be it a regular sandwich or a salad, onions form an important ingredient to add taste and flavour.

But along with its culinary uses onions are also important in light of the various health benefits they provide.

They are significantly low in calories, and so they have been known to be effective in fighting high cholesterol and maintaining the health of your heart.

Also, onions play an important role in fighting against various different disease conditions.

They have shown promising potential for controlling the formation of intestinal polyps.

It is also known to have suppressing effects in rhinovirus infection which is held responsible for infections like the common cold and in inhibiting the replication of Herpes virus.

Again it has been found to treat psoriasis and in lowering the risk of cancer.

In fact, a study showed that consumption of half an onion on a daily basis could help reduce the risk of cancer of the stomach by 50%.

But for arthritic patients, the anti-inflammatory role of onions are of prime interest. Onions have been known to lower pain and inflammation in patients.

Also, they possess effective healing powers.

These factors have been attributed by the presence of flavonoids like quercetin, anthocyanins, and various different sulphur compounds.

Each of these chemicals plays a crucial role in relieving arthritic symptoms among patients.

One of the best known healing agent in onions is Quercetin. As such onions are one of the richest sources of bioflavonoids and quercetin is one of them.

Quercetin inhibits the production of inflammatory molecules like histamine, prostaglandins, and leukotrienes; thus helping in treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

It has also been known for inhibiting enzymes like 5-lipoxygenase. 5-Lipoxygenase is responsible for triggering a cascade of inflammatory responses in the body.

Thus inhibition of these enzymes helps in lowering inflammation thus rendering it effective for patients with arthritis.

Research shows that quercetin is a potent anti-oxidant. It helps to scavenge the free radicals which are responsible to cause oxidative damage in tissues.

This again helps fight inflammation.

Also, this feature helps in reducing the damage caused by Low-density Lipoprotein (Bad cholesterol) thus reducing the danger of heart diseases.

In fact, quercetin present in onions renders it effective against cancers.

There are reports that prove that patients who switch to a vegan diet including berries, fruits, and vegetables rich in quercetin, show lowered symptoms of rheumatism.

The severity of rheumatoid arthritis is low in patients that include food rich in quercetin in their diet. However, there are no such confirmatory proofs available regarding quercetin supplements!

Chemically, quercetin is Pentahydroxyflavone dehydrate. In a study, its effect was studied in rat model induced with arthritis.

This study investigated the in vivo effect of quercetin when given orally or intra-cutaneously in rat models that have been artificially induced with chronic arthritis.

This study recorded the arthritic score of the rats on a daily basis. It revealed that oral doses of quercetin had a clear clinical effect in relieving symptoms of arthritis.

Also, intra-cutaneous injections of quercetin in significant amounts showed positive effects.

Additionally, low doses of quercetin, when administered before induction of arthritis helped in reducing the signs of arthritis thus proving that quercetin can exercise preventive role as well in case of arthritis.

Again this study tested the activity of macrophage-induced cytokines and nitric oxide in macrophages obtained from quercetin treated arthritic-rat models.

Cytokines and nitric oxide are responsible to trigger inflammatory responses in a human cell system.

Significant lowering in the concentration of these factors after quercetin treatment proved the effectiveness of this compound in treating arthritis.

However, when such results were tried to be repeated in human, no significant change in plasma composition was observed.

Thus much more research needs to be conducted in order to provide clear evidence of the efficacy of artificial administration of quercetin in humans.

Sulphur and sulphur compounds are yet another factor present in onions that provide protection against symptoms of arthritis.

Sulphur has long been known to be used in form of creams in order to reduce pain and swelling in the case of arthritis.

It is available in two forms in the market namely, dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) and methyl sulphonyl methane (MSM).

Studies have shown the positive effect of sulphur both in the form of oral medication or topical application in treating symptoms of arthritis.

In fact, Balneotherapy is an age old remedy for arthritic patients where patients are made to bath in sulphurous water to experience relief from symptoms of pain and inflammation.

A recent study tested the effectiveness of this treatment in patients with osteoarthritis. After regular monitoring over a span of three months, it was found that patients receiving balneotherapy experienced a significant reduction in pain and symptoms of arthritis as compared to the placebo group. Since onions are the natural source of sulphur and sulphur compounds, they carry all the beneficial effects as well.

Another compound that makes onions a preferred choice for your bones is the GPCS – gamma-Glutamyl-Propenyl-Cysteine Sulphoxide.

Researchers at the University of Bern, Switzerland have found that this peptide present in onions is extremely important for bone health.

This study showed that the presence of the compound GPCS helps in preventing bone loss amongst patients with osteoporosis.

Thus in this way, it functions to improve bone strength and bone health.

This again adds to the beneficial effects of onions in patients with arthritis.

Onions are widely used vegetable all over the globe. There are numerous varieties of onion available in the market.

A thing to note is that not all of them carry equal benefit in case of arthritis.

Antioxidants like gallic acid, quercetin, and ferulic acid are chiefly responsible to lower the level of free radicals in the blood, thus reducing inflammation.

A recent report tested the amount of these antioxidants in different varieties of onion. It was found that the level of antioxidants was highest in red varieties.

The high content of flavonoids is the prime reason for the strong and pungent taste found in these varieties.

Thus shallots, yellow and red onions have more health benefits than white and sweet onion varieties.

But by and large, onions play a significant role in fighting against symptoms of arthritis and must be included in the daily diet by the patients.

 How should they be included in the diet?

Well, there is no doubt that onions can be used in every form in the food.

Over the ages, we have been consuming onions either raw or as a boiled vegetable.

They can be grilled or baked, sautéed or fried to add to the culinary value of various dishes.

However, in order to have the greatest health benefits in case of arthritis, few pointers must be considered.

As stated earlier, the use of red and yellow varieties of onions is more beneficial in case of arthritis as they possess the maximum amounts of flavonoids and antioxidants.

Also, it is important not to peel off a number of outer layers of onion while using them.

It is found that the outer layers of onion contain maximum amounts of bioflavonoids.

Thus removing of the outer layers might lead to loss of up to 20% of much-needed antioxidants and flavonoid molecules .

Again, when using boiled onions, it is important to utilize the boiled water as well. it is because of boiling results in the release of all the important compounds into the boiled water.

Hence in order to avail the health benefits that water needs to be consumed. One must not keep onions sliced or cut in the refrigerator.

Cutting and refrigeration leads to loss of flavour and useful chemicals from the vegetable thus reducing its health benefits.

Apart from this raw supplements of quercetin, the chief bioflavonoid responsible for the positive effects of onion, are available in the market.

However not much health benefits have been noted from these supplements. Thus they are not that widely advised to be used by patients with arthritis.


Onions are otherwise considered safe when taken in regular amounts in food and dishes.

However, like any other food, it might cause some troubles when consumed in excess.

Excessive intake of onion has been linked to heartburns and troubles with digestion in some individuals.

Again excess amounts pf quercetin might cause headaches or upset stomach.

It may even result in kidney damage and thus must be avoided by patients with renal troubles.

Again pregnant and breastfeeding women are not advised to take quercetin supplements; however no known side effect has been reported when taken in food in the form of onions.

In extremely high amounts, the antioxidants and Vitamin K present in onions interfere with the action of blood thinning drugs like warfarin.

Thus excessive use of onions is prohibited when using such drugs. Also while using homeopathic medications, consumption of onion must be avoided.


Arthritis is a severe disease that affects the lifestyle of an individual.

Performing regular day-to-day tasks also appear to be a burden to the patients.

Proper care and medication is key to find relief from symptoms of pain and joint inflammation.

Additionally, our diet plays a vital role in providing much-needed supplements to patients.

One such common vegetable that can help improve your symptoms of arthritis is Onion.

Onions possess a significant amount of bioflavonoids like quercetin, sulphur compounds and GSCS.

These molecules help in rendering anti-inflammatory- anti-histamine and anti-arthritic functions to the vegetable.

Certain research studies even point towards the beneficial effect of this vegetable in patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Thus a bag of red onions could be a good way to monitor your arthritis from now on!

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