Bernard O'Shea: 'I put onions on my feet to suck the toxins out of my body'

Bernard O'Shea wants magic to exist. He loves fads and will try pretty much anything - especially if it ends with green gunk on his feet.
Bernard O'Shea: 'I put onions on my feet to suck the toxins out of my body'

Bernard O'Shea: Can onions pull toxins out of your body? I sliced up an onion about 1 mm thick and put it into a washed takeaway tub that I saved, especially for my smelly bulb procedure.

I’m obsessed with fads. Especially the ridiculous ones you know are snake oil and are usually clickbait for scams on the internet. I can’t stop clicking on them. I see “lose three stone in less than a month”, and it takes the strength of a thousand distinguished empires to hold me back on clicking my way to false hope. I’m the person who buys the rubber ear wax cleaner and the pillowcase that makes you sleep faster. I’m that fool.

If I were alive in the Middle Ages, I’d most definitely be an assistant to an alchemist. I wouldn’t have the necessary gumption on isolating minerals, but I’d be stupid enough to act as a guinea pig. It would probably end badly taste-testing the elixir of life for my master.

When I was growing up, I gazed at the Esso tiger tokens booklet and thought, “Only four million tokens for a video recorder!"I begged my parents to buy more petrol. Every time my father would explain that it would cost more in petrol to buy it than to buy a VCR. I never asked him why we didn’t get one because I knew we could never afford one. Anyway, I was more intrigued by the idea of it being free. That this unique life-changing technology could stroll into my then two-channel 1980’s life and say, “Hey Bernard, wait until you see this!”

Essentially what I’m saying is that I believe in the chance of magic. I think that magicians somehow can make things disappear and levitate on a whim and that even though I’m 42 years of age, I want magic to exist. That’s why I’m thick enough to believe that putting onions on the ends of your feet will suck out all the toxins from your body.

A basic Google search will tell you the benefits can range from purifying your blood, getting rid of toxins, stopping your feet from ponging and preventing the common cold. I don’t suffer from these ailments as far as I know and touch wood. To balance the scales, most reputable physicians’ online will tell you that “toxins” don’t work the way we think. But it wasn’t for any medical reason that I wanted to try out this miracle cure. The magic for me was going to be the gunk.

I know loads of people in my family and social circle obsessed with Dr Pimple Popper and the like. There are some people (myself included) that have a love-hate relationship with being grossed out. But I just wanted to see if my feet produced the green bile that I’ve seen on thousands of Instagram videos.

I knew if I started cutting up onions in the house and strapping them to my feet, my wife would berserk. I wouldn’t blame her. I can stand the smell of onions or garlic. Furthermore, I needed to leave them on for eight hours to see any reaction. I had a plan.

Bernard O'Shea. Picture: Moya Nolan
Bernard O'Shea. Picture: Moya Nolan

We have a garage that we use as an office. I use it to write and work. It’s perfect for my needs, and it feels like I’m going to a “workplace”. Getting out of the house these days for anything is a joy, even if it’s to look for hours on end in bemusement at spreadsheets.

One small caveat to my little hide-away -  it’s freezing. I’ve recently discovered that your body can be cosy and warm wrapped up in several layers of jumpers, but you can get what I like to call “ice typers”. This is where your hands are just impossible to warm up. I know it’s not picking stones in winter (which I’ve done), but the irony of every part of my body being cosy except for the ten digits I so desperately need has resulted in e-mails being sent to the wrong people or sharing my screen of Zoom calls because of my shaking numbers. So, spending a night in there for my experiment didn’t fill me full of joy, more dread. It also would be impossible because we have three small kids who regularly need something around the 4am mark.

But I work alternative long days to juggle childcare. I chose a Wednesday. I had online meetings from 9 am to 12 pm, and then I had work assignments due for the next day, which meant that I wasn’t going anywhere. I would be chained to the desk like it or lump it for at least eight to nine hours. This was my opportunity.

I sliced up an onion about 1 mm thick and put it into a washed takeaway tub that I saved, especially for my smelly bulb procedure. My lunch didn’t receive the same luxury; I just threw it into an old bread wrapper. 

As I sat at my desk with a roll of cling film in my hand, I looked at the ceiling and said, “Come on, magic”. I wrapped the onions around my feet with the plastic wrap and then covered them in a pair of old football socks. I could see my reflection on the computer screen and thought, “Oh Jesus is this what I look like in a Pilates class?” I’m so stiff that it took me about six goes to get them on the right. The only thing I noticed when I did get them on was the smell of bananas.

Maybe it was my nose, but I could smell bananas once I had them on my feet. Don’t get me wrong; I could also smell onions; it was a weird dual concoction. I felt a tingly sensation for around half an hour, but eventually, that stopped. Now and then, my watch would tell me to “stand up”, but I had a brilliant excuse to resume my sloughed position. At around 5 pm, I stood up and stretched, forgetting that I had them cling wrapped to my feet. They had been on for eight hours.

I was like a child on Christmas morning, unwrapping my feet. Unfortunately, no gunk, just withered onions. My feet, however, smelled of … onions.

There was, however, one little ray of magic. My feet felt like I had just taken a walk in the sea—that feeling when they warm up and feel like they are glowing. It was like the sensation when I tried earthing, almost like a bit of foot reaffirmation telling me that they need to be looked after a bit more. But as for the bananas? You can wrap the skins around your feet as well. I wonder whether they would start smelling like onions?

More in this section


The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up