External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Onion Neck Compress

Kind of substance


Guiding principle for the application

Onions have decongestant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Their rich sulfur content can stimulate metabolic processes; the vapors produced when cutting an onion cause tears to flow, stimulated by sulfuric acid. Besides the decongestant effect on the mucous membranes, onions also have strong antiseptic effects due to their essential oils. Just cutting an onion sets its accumulated forces in motion, the same happens with congested and inflamed disease processes when they are treated with onion.

Guiding Principle for the substance


  • Purulent angina
  • Lateral pharyngitis
  • Tonsillitis



  • This wrapped onion neck compress can also be used alternately with the application of 2 slices of lemon on each side of the neck (lightly pressed on), fixed in place with a cotton cloth. In this case it is recommended to use the onion compress in the first half of the day, the lemon slices in the second half of the day or at night.
  • A hot wrapped lemon neck compress is better for a beginning angina.

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloth handkerchiefs as substance cloths
  • 1 cotton cloth as an outer cloth
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Freezer bag
  • Hot-water bottle, filled hot (70°C or 158°F), de-aired

  • Peel the onion and chop into small pieces
  • Spread the onion pieces over an area of approx. 7 x 7 cm on the middle of each unfolded handkerchief
  • Fold each handkerchief into a small pack
  • Place the packs in the freezer bag
  • Place the single-layer fabric side of the packs on the hot-water bottle for a few minutes.
  • Remove the heated onion packs from the freezer bag
  • Place one pack on each side of the neck, directly under the middle of the earlobes and fix in place with the cotton cloth so that the onion packs are completely covered
  • If possible, leave the compresses on for 2 hours

  • Discard the onion
  • Wash out the handkerchiefs
  • If necessary, wash off the neck with warm water to get rid of the onion smell

Well-proven in many patients
1 x daily
Onset of effect
Immediate pain alleviation
Length of therapy
As long as needed, usually a few days

Instructions to download




  • Griffiths G, et al. Onions – a global benefit to health. Phytotherapy research 16.7 (2002): 603–615.
  • Sharifi-Rad J, et al. Plants of the genus Allium as antibacterial agents: From tradition to pharmacy. Cellular and Molecular Biology 62.9 (2016): 57–68.