February 9

It’s time for the sock onion to die.


Rant warning: it’s time for the sock onion to die.

Enough with the sock onion already!

Yesterday afternoon, I’d had it. My social media feed was littered with bogus claims and memes with a few of my biggest herbal pet peeves. This included my nemesis, the sock onion. I made a impromptu video while waiting for a friend. Some of it is venting, some of it is funny, and some of it is useful information. Check it out below.

Herbal Pet Peeves

In the video, I also touch on two other pet peeves that drive me absolutely bonkers.

Herbs are gentle.

Ugh. This one really grinds my gears. Yes, herbs can be gentle. But, it depends upon which herb. Some herbs, like milky oat tops, lemonbalm, and lavender are subtle and gentle. So, herbs can be gentle. That doesn’t make the blanket statement of “herbs are gentle” true. “Can be” is different than “are“.

Others herbs, however, can pack a wallop. I mention a few of these in the video, including senna, cayenne, and cannabis. To take this one step further, sometimes they can be gentle, depending upon the dose, part of the plant, and the type of product used.

Herbs are natural, so herbs are safe.

Just because something is natural doesn’t make it safe. The obvious flaw in this “logic” is that there most definitely are poisonous plants. A great example of this is poison hemlock,¬†Conium maculatum. Poison hemlock is part of the carrot family and could easily be mistaken for something like Queen Anne’s Lace.

Sometimes, it isn’t plant toxicity that’s the concern, but contraindications which are. Such as not drinking lots of comfrey root tea if you have liver issues, and not giving white willow or meadowsweet to children when they show signs of infection.

The Sock Onion

This tired and ridiculous remedy gets dragged out every cold and flu season. The claims made about it are outlandish. Apparently a slice of an onion cures everything from colds to plague, plus “detoxes” the body and disinfects the air in a sick room. The evidence given to show it pulled toxins out of the air and viruses out through the feet is that it turns black.

No. Just no.

It turns black from oxidation, not from pulling influenza or plague out through the feet. Never mind that if a sliced onion cured plague, we probably wouldn’t have had repeated plague pandemics throughout history where onions were readily available.

Plus, this isn’t how we “detox”. The body clears itself of environmental toxins, metabolites, etc, through the liver and then through elimination. The other detoxification channel outside of elimination is through sweating. The only way your feet “detox” anything is if your feet sweat. So, those socks are doing more for detoxification than that onion slice.

The only thing that sock onion is doing is making your foot smell like onions.

How to Get Good Herbal Info

These herbal myths really get under my skin because there is absolutely no need for it. Learning how to use herbs safely and make effective herbal remedies isn’t hard. It takes some time and effort, but not like it used to be.

Back when I was first learning about herbal medicine, there were a few good books, and you could write a letter to their publisher with questions for the author. Many of these books were on things like how to make herbal face cream and other personal care products, not necessarily on herbal medicine.¬†Back in my day (geez, I’m only in my early forties), if you were lucky and had a legit herbal shop nearby with a knowledgeable owner, you could bring your questions to them.


Today, however, it’s much easier to learn about herbs and their therapeutic uses. I have a list of books I personally own and highly recommend on my Recommended Reading page. Of course, there is my book, Prepper’s Natural Medicine, which is like a crash course in herbalism written with preppers in mind.


If you’re really serious about understanding herbal medicine, then I suggest you take an herbal course. If you can take one locally, that’s almost always the best option. However, if a local class doesn’t fit either your schedule or your budget, there are plenty of online herbal programs available, including mine here on this site.

For my courses, I suggest starting with the Herbal Skills Intensive, which covers a ton of ground in a relatively short time period. It’s based off my local course which takes 8 months (meeting once a month for 8 months), but has been reworked to take in 8 weeks. While it’s possible to finish in 8 weeks, you can take it at your own pace.

Free Resources

There are also a boatload of free resources available at your local library and online. I have a number of herbal websites listed on my Resources page. Plus, don’t forget about YouTube! There’s my YouTube channel, plus there are thousands of free videos on herbal medicine to be found on YouTube. Of course, you need to be savvy and discerning with online resources. Otherwise, we’re back to the sock onion all over again.


Cold and Flu, Onion in a sock, Onions

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