Onion syrup is a handy home remedy for coughs and colds. And it’s easy to make. Here’s how.

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Q: I read about onion syrup for coughs and colds. How does one prepare this? I have never seen it in a store.

A. This old home remedy is not difficult to make. One reader described her approach: “When my kids were babies and got croup, I made onion syrup on the stove. I cut a few onions in half and covered them with water. First I’d bring it to a boil, then simmer the mixture real low and slow with enough water just to cover for a couple of hours. The onions would get soft and the cooking water would be syrupy. I’d sweeten it with a little sugar or honey, depending on the child’s age. Nothing worked better.”

Another reader offered this: “I really believe in the onion syrup. When my daughter was a baby, she had colic and was coughing all the time. A friend of mine sliced an onion, sprinkled sugar all over the cut edges, and waited about 30 minutes until the juice began to collect. Then we gave the baby a teaspoon, with instant success. We continued to give it to her, and she slept well.”

Q: My doctor told me to use Promise margarine, nothing else. Over a period of time my cholesterol dropped to 100 and has been stable for more than 20 years. Is Promise responsible for this?

A: Promise and Benecol margarine both were launched as a means of lowering cholesterol. They contain plant sterols or plant stanol esters. Regular consumption of such products in place of butter can lower LDL cholesterol by 7 to 12 percent (Nutrients, Sept. 7, 2018).

Q: My neurologist recommended alpha-lipoic acid for numbness in my feet, and it helps some. However, walking the dogs around the pond in the cool mornings means I start out the day wearing my hiking boots, and that seems to help the neuropathy even more. This seems more than a little weird to me, but the comfort is welcome. I already own boots, so I didn’t have to spend money. At 74 years of age, neuropathy’s effects on my balance are not trivial.

A: We’re glad the hiking boots are helpful. You also might want to consider the synthetic B vitamin benfotiamine in addition to alpha-lipoic acid. It has been shown helpful against diabetic neuropathy (Minerva Medica, October 2017).

There hasn’t been much research on this combination to treat nerve pain and numbness not due to diabetes. Although this is only an anecdote, one reader wrote: “I know that benfotiamine with alpha-lipoic acid can eliminate neuropathy. I had it so bad in my feet that it felt like I was walking on the sharp part of a huge spike! I have been taking both of these for years now and have not had one pain. I could not walk without them.”

Q: I had a deep cut on my finger and the blood was pulsing out. I grabbed the black pepper, poured it on the cut, and the bleeding stopped immediately. I left the cluster of black pepper on the cut. The cut sealed shut and was healed in two days. Thanks for writing about this remedy.

A: We always encourage anyone with a serious cut to apply pressure and seek immediate medical attention. That said, you are not the first person to report that applying ground black pepper can sometimes be an effective way to stop bleeding.

To read about other simple approaches for common ailments including cuts and bruises, you may find our book “Quick & Handy Home Remedies” of interest. It is available at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com or your local library.