Nature Knows: Onions and Garlic Chase Away Winter Ills

Lamb bone broth, from our Passover lamb shanks.

This Winter, for the first time ever, our family made it through without any antibiotics for stuffy noses (or any other reason) and without getting the flu. Sure, we got some sniffles and some signs of illness, but we FOUGHT IT OFF each time, with relative ease.

No, we didn’t have flu shots. No, we didn’t slather ourselves in hand sanitizer or antibacterial soaps. And, no, we didn’t keep ourselves indoors and wrapped in bubble wrap. Instead, I used a simple strategy: Add lots of garlic and onion to our daily broth.

And it was that simple.

I have read of several natural remedies for Fall and Winter ailments (like cold, flu, and sinus infection) that include prodigious amounts of onions and garlic. And, miracle upon miracle, nature provides onions and garlic at just the right time and they store all winter long!

So, when our local farmer’s fall crop of onions and garlic were ready, I started adding them to our homemade bone broth. As the weather got colder, I added more. Sometimes, up to six onions and three or four heads of garlic! (Not cloves, HEADS!) I slow cooked our broth (which also contains bones—with or without meat—carrots, homegrown celery, a dash of vinegar, sometimes a chicken foot or four, and other leftover tidbits) for two days to extract all the minerals from the bones and vegetables. (For great instructions on bone broth, see the book/cookbook Nourishing Traditions and also check out

I made bone broth once or twice a week, which essentially means we had a pot going at most times. We drank our broth with real sea salt (which contains trace minerals) two or three times a day (before most meals), although sometimes we skipped a meal or only got in one cup. To change things up, we added cream or coconut cream and coconut oil to it.

Now, as spring arrives and the few remaining onions in my stores (and my farmer’s stores) are sending out shoots, despite being stored in totally unnatural conditions like a refrigerator, I have to wonder at how nature just knows. Our weather here has gotten warmer and cold and flu season are on their way out the door, at just the same time the onions and garlic held out for us all winter, but are now preparing themselves to multiply and grow in the earth until next cold and flu season. Is this my signal to ease off of the garlic and onion broth until the next crop?

Or, perhaps I should listen to Mother Nature and start replacing my winter onions and garlic with the wild spring onions that are jutting up from my organic anti-lawn.

Onion shoots.

Cook’s Note: The one exception to the above claim that we didn’t get sick is that Brian got a pretty inconvenient and uncomfortable stomach ailment after eating out, which lasted about a week… but I don’t think it was seasonal or related to what we do here at home!

Also, don’t use store bought broth for this reason, or any other! It doesn’t contain the same nutritional properties and is full of stuff you don’t want in your body, like MSG, chemical additives, and who knows what!

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2 Responses to Nature Knows: Onions and Garlic Chase Away Winter Ills

  1. Kate says:

    I have a question about the broths. I start it off with oxtail bones and whatever the butcher gives me (cuts it lengthwise) and add veggies and cook meat in it, etc. But eventually I strain it, freeze some broth, then blend some veggies & broth for a creamy soup and freeze that. But I always find bones in the veggie mix I’ve strained. When I blend them I can hear it and have to go fishing. How do you avoid this?

    • Sarah says:

      I haven’t had this problem. Can you use a finer seive to strain? I sometimes pour mine through a collander for the big stuff and then through a mesh strainer for the rest.

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