Onion skins aren’t effective treatments for prostatitis or UTIs

30 October 2023
What was claimed

Onion skin treats prostatitis and UTIs.

Our verdict

There’s no evidence to suggest this is true. Prostatitis and UTI can lead to life threatening infections if not treated properly with antibiotics.

A Facebook video shared more than 2,000 times claims that a drink made by boiling onion skins can “treat prostatitis” and “eliminate” or “combat urinary tract infections”. This is not true.

Neither onions nor onion skins are a recognised treatment for either condition, and we can find no evidence that they would be beneficial.

We have written many times before about false health claims relating to foods. Bad information about diseases and their treatments can cause harm, especially if people delay seeking appropriate care for something that can become more serious over time.

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The video

The post contains what appears to be an AI generated video of a man dressed as a doctor talking about onion peels. It advises people to boil onion peels and drink the resulting fluid, claiming, among other things: “Onion peels offer extensive benefits. They treat prostatitis [and] combat urinary tract infections.”.

The Facebook account that posted the video appears to have posted many other similar videos using AI-generated characters dressed as doctors. The original TikTok video has over 11,000 shares and the account has many more videos of the AI-generated doctor than on Facebook.


The prostate is a small gland found between the bladder and the penis. It produces components of semen.

Prostatitis is an inflammation of the gland. Most commonly it is a chronic condition that comes and goes over a long period of time. But sometimes the inflammation can be acute, meaning it comes on suddenly. Acute prostatitis is more dangerous than chronic.

Chronic prostatitis can cause pain anywhere from the abdomen to the testicles, and often difficulty urinating or with sexual function. It is treated differently depending on the symptoms present, but helpful medications can include painkillers, antibiotics or specific drugs to reduce the swelling and help you urinate normally.

Acute prostatitis is a more severe disease. It needs to be treated with antibiotics. It can lead to very severe and life threatening infections like a prostate abscess or sepsis.

Onion skin is not mentioned by NICE (the body that officially recommends treatments in the UK based on the best evidence available) or the NHS as a treatment for acute or chronic prostatitis.


A urinary tract infection (UTI) is, as the name suggests, an infection somewhere in the urinary tract, which is composed of your kidneys, bladder, ureters (tubes connecting the two) and the urethra (the tube leading to the outside genitalia).

The NHS gives advice on preventing UTIs including personal hygiene measures and keeping well hydrated.

Some people experience recurrent UTIs. Treatment to prevent these can include antibiotics or oestrogen products for postmenopausal patients. Other potential measures to reduce the infections include the supplement D-mannose and cranberry products (though the evidence for the latter is weak).

Lower UTIs (where the infection hasn’t gone above the bladder) in males and pregnant females always need antibiotics. Women who aren’t pregnant can sometimes be managed without antibiotics if the infection lasts less than 48 hours and doesn’t get worse. Infections further up, in the kidneys—also called pyelonephritis—always require antibiotics.

UTIs can lead to sepsis if not treated appropriately.

Onion skin is not mentioned by NICE or the NHS as a treatment or a preventative measure for UTIs.

Could onions be effective?

Full Fact was unable to find any studies looking at onion skins in relation to these specific conditions.

We did find some studies that have looked at onion’s antibiotic properties. One small study looked at the effect of onion bulbs on bacteria grown from patients with urine infections, but the researchers discarded the skins and found that onion wasn’t very effective anyway. Other studies have looked at the effects of extracts (concentrated compounds made from onions rather than the vegetable itself) on various bugs in the lab.

This is not good evidence that an infusion made from onion skins would be useful for treating or preventing prostatitis or UTIs.

The information included in this article contains the latest evidence and official guidance available at the time it was written. This is not a substitute for medical advice. If you require specific medical advice please consult your GP.

Featured image courtesy of Uwe Baumann

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