A man posted in a YouTube video that he cured himself of the flu by sleeping with a sliced potato in his sock -- a home remedy he found on social media. Is there any science to back this up?


Dr. Ruth MacDonald - Iowa State University

David Benjamin - green living advocate

National Onion Association

Medical News Today


This year's flu season is bad. And this year's vaccine is not nearly as effective as we'd all like it to be. So it's no wonder that a lot of folks are turning to old home remedies they're finding on social media.

Two 'miracle cures' have grown so popular, they've yielded a harvest of testimonials and how-to videos on YouTube and Facebook.

To fight the flu, they say, put either a potato or onion in your sock overnight.

Yep - a tater under your toe.

Is there any scientific evidence to back this up? Our Verify team went looking.

We found a handful of theories behind the health claim: That while you sleep, an onion or potato will:

-- Purify your blood.

-- Draw toxins from your body.

-- Draw out the flu virus.

And you wake up healthy. Or at the very least, feeling much better.

The remedy dates back to at least the Late Middle Ages, when many people believed it could protect you from bubonic plague, known as the Black Death. Some medical historians say it goes back much further - to ancient Chinese medicine.

And now, adding to this rich history, social media is chock-full of present-day anecdotes to support the onion/potato remedy.


Despite the abundance of that anecdotal evidence, our Verify team could find no study or medical literature to support the remedy. We DID find health professionals who disputed the notion -- essentially saying, put a sock in it -- including Dr. Ruth MacDonald of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. MacDonald and others said onions can certainly be good for you when EATEN. But neither an onion nor a potato will pull a virus from the bottoms of your feet or draw out impurities through your toes.

If you want to give it a try -- go ahead. It probably won't hurt. But we can Verify -- there's no science to show it will help.


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