External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Onion Ear Bags

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


Otitis media



  • 1 onion
  • Cloth handkerchief as a substance cloth
  • Cap to fix the compress in place
  • 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 the unfolded handkerchief
  • Fold the handkerchief into a small pack
  • Place the pack in the freezer bag
  • Place the single-layer fabric side of the pack on the hot-water bottle for a minute or so, not too long, the pack should be roughly at body temperature.
  • Remove the warmed onion pack from the freezer bag
  • Put the pack on the affected ear and place it around the auricle so that the area behind the ear is also covered
  • Fix the bag in place with the cap (alternatively you can use a scarf, but a cap holds it better in place)
  • If possible, leave the compress on for 2 hours

  • Discard the onion
  • Wash out the handkerchief
  • 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
Rapid pain alleviation
Length of therapy
As required, often a single application is all that is needed

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