Onion, Cabbage, Cranberry, and Cayenne

Onion, Cabbage, Cranberry, and Cayenne


Of all the Allium species (garlic, leeks, chives, ect), onions are the most widely cultivated in the world. While there are wild species of onion, the bulb onions we are familiar with are only known in their cultivated form, as it stands there are no confirmed wild ancestors for the bulb onions we know and love. Onions have been recorded as far back as the Bronze Age as being used for human food. This vegetable has been so important that in the middle ages some people would pay their rent in onions, not only that, there is actually a form of divination specifically done with onions called cromniomancy.

The chemical profiles of different types of onion can vary a great deal, yellow onions have the highest flavonoid content while shallots have the highest polyphenol content.

Growing this vegetable is interesting because bulbs will not form until there is a minimum number of daylight hours, the number of hours varies depending on variety but will fall within 11hrs to 15hrs per day.

Eating very high amounts of onions can alter blood sugar levels and inhibit iron absorption.

They are also toxic to the family pet, despite the medicinal effects for humans.

There is interesting research showing that onions may inhibit tumour growth for colon and esophageal cancers.


Topically; poultice applied to the chest to open the lungs during mucousy coughs.

Cooked onion can be used to draw pus out of wounds. The juice is useful for stings of all types and fungal skin complaints.

Internally; as food to increase urination, lower blood sugar, aid digestion, and increase appetite.

Cautions: Some people do experience allergies to raw onions. Cooking them appears to eliminate this problem, however most of the medicinal properties are from consuming raw onion.

First aid: Contact burns can occur on the skin. Wash area with soapy water and allow to air dry. If onion juice is gotten in the eye then rinse with running water for several minutes, if irritation persists seek medical advice.


I doubt any reader expected to see cabbage in this list! Aside from the high nutrient value there are some useful medicinal properties.

Cabbage leaves were traditionally used for treating mastitis and the juice (blech) is a fast remedy for constipation. Sauerkraut kept scurvy at bay due to it’s high Vit C content, heat treatment breaks down Vit C so commercially available sauerkraut unfortunately doesn’t have much Vit C.

Cabbage is a bi-annual (2 year cycle) plant that is harvested in its first year. Most of us would not recognise a cabbage in its second year because it grows up to 6ft tall! It’s not known for sure when cabbage varieties began to be cultivated, however it is known that some form of cabbage was grown by the Celts in 1000 B.C.E.The medicinal qualities of cabbage have been noted by herbalists since the time of the Greeks. It was used for gout, headaches, ingestion of poisonous mushrooms (please don’t test this), and other maladies. Some form of cabbage has been planted in most parts of the world, from Europe to Asia, and from North America to Australia.There is interesting research that shows loose leaf cabbages (chinese cabbage) may protect against dental decay and periodontal disease.


Topical; whole leaf applied to breast for mastitis and/or engorgement. As a poultice to draw pus out of boils and wounds. Cabbage must be wilted but not fully cooked to form the poultice.

Internal; Promotes sweating, urination, and defecation. Boosts immune function and protects brain function.


Multiple constituents can act against the thyroid in medicinal doses used long term.

High Vit K content means there is the possibility for drug interactions with blood thinning medications.

High oxalic acid means there is a risk of kidney stones when consumed for long periods.

First aid:

Some may experience burns on the skin from the juice. Rinse area thoroughly and apply something soothing to the area. If irritation persists or has blistered seek medical help.

If the juice has gotten in the eye rinse immediately with fresh water for 15 minutes. If blurred vision or burning sensation is present seek medical help immediately.


Most north american readers are familiar with cranberry sauce at the holidays. Many however have no idea it can be used as medicine.

For those who do know, they will often seek it out as a DIY option to treat a UTI, research however shows that while it may help prevent UTI’s it doesn’t get rid of one once you have it.

Cranberries grow on evergreen shrubs that naturally prefer to grow in acidic bogs. The plants are low growing, creeping shrubs or vines up to 7 ft long and 2 to 8 inches in height.

Because of the natural tartness and bitterness cranberries are almost always processed. They may be dried and sweetened, turned into cranberry sauce, or cranberry juice which actually contains more sugar than soda pop.

Raw cranberries are a good source of polyphenols which are currently being researched for cancer, cardiovascular effects, and immune effects.

Most people seeking cranberry for it’s medicinal properties will want to find a good quality supplement.


Internally; prevention of UTI’s, prevention of stomach ulcers, boosts immune function, may reduce risk of cancer.


Potential drug interactions include Anisindione, Coumadin, Dicumarol, Jantoven, Miradon, Warfarin.
Can contain high levels of oxalate which can cause kidney stones.

Allergies to aspirin can sometimes also mean an allergy to cranberry.

First aid:

If a drug interaction or allergy is suspected call emergency services. The drug interactions are considered to be of moderate but not severe strength.


Most readers will know this as a pungent spice we feel at the beginning and end. The plants can be grown in a variety of climates, in cooler places it is typically grown as an annual but in tropical zones it grows as a perennial. The plants can grow up to 4 feet tall and harvesting can begin in 70 – 100 days depending on the growing conditions.

Many cuisines around the world use chilis of some type in their cooking, Indian, Mexican, Sichuan, Korean, various African countries, I could go on.

As a medicine it has been mentioned as far back as Culpeper’s work (famous old herbalist) under the name Guinea Pepper. Cayenne is one of the most potent protectors of the cardiovascular system as well as the digestive systems. It also boosts metabolic function and is strongly anti-inflammatory. It can be useful when dealing with different types of arthritis, ulcers, and for healing the liver. If you suffer from psoriasis or eczema you may find taking cayenne helpful because of the liver healing properties.


Topically in a balm for muscle aches and pains.

Internally for increasing all digestive juices, opening the lungs, lowering blood pressure, boosting immune function, supporting the liver.


Contains a couple compounds that can encourage menstruation or miscarriage however they are not in significant concentrations so most women have nothing to be concerned about. Best avoided for high risk pregnancies in medicinal doses.

Not to be used topically for any reason on young children.

DO NOT USE TOPICALLY WITH HEAT. Burns can and will happen.

If you have an allergy to chestnuts, kiwi, latex, bananas, or avocado then you may also have an allergy to cayenne.

Cayenne can make the dangerous effects of cocaine worse.

Possible drug interactions;

ACE inhibitors such as Captopril (Capoten), Elaropril (Vasotec), Fosinopril (Monopril), Lisinopril (Zestril).

Stomach acid reducers such as Cimetidine (Tagamet), Esomeprazole (Nexium), Famotidine (Pepcid), Omeprazole (Prilosec), Ranitidine (Zantac), over-the-counter options such as Maalox, Rolaids, Tums, nonprescription versions of these medications.

Aspirin, theophylline, diabetes medications, and blood thinning medications AND HERBS.

First aid:

When dealing with fresh cayenne try to wear gloves.

If gotten in the eye allow to water freely, irritation should not persist for more than a couple hours. If damage can be seen or irritation persists longer, call your care provider and explain.

If a burn has occurred on the skin wash area with soap and water, then apply milk or baking soda dissolved in water to further neutralize the acids.

If a suspected drug interaction has happened call emergency services immediately.

If a non anaphylactic allergy to cayenne is suspected call your care provider and explain.

If cayenne and cocaine have been taken together call emergency services immediately.

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