Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ear Infections and Natural Healing

A few weeks ago, Viviana had her first ear infection. She had a cold the previous week, which kept lingering in spite of giving her garlic and Echinacea. Within a couple days on that she was feeling much better, but the congestion held on. About a week later, she woke up one night screaming, which doesn’t usually happen for her. She almost always just whimpers or “calls”, and I nurse her back to sleep in a short period of time. I nursed her, but she continued to cry. I wasn’t sure what was wrong with her, but Ben offered to walk her for awhile and see if that calmed her down, as it’s something he’s done in the past when she gets worked up. She fell asleep a few times, always to wake up 15 or so minutes later screaming. At that point, we knew something was hurting her, and Ben suggested her ears. This made perfect sense- at her age, it’s all too easy for fluid to make its way to the ears, the lingering congestion would be the perfect cause, and it would explain why she wasn’t crying quite so much when walking (due to being held upright). Ben made a heroic midnight run to Walmart for children’s tylonel, and I put some garlic ear drops in her ears. I don’t like using synthetic pain relievers, but nothing else was working, and I felt like I needed to help relieve her pain if it was hurting so much that she couldn’t sleep at all. Prior to taking the tylonel, the most she would sleep at a time was 15 minutes, which wasn’t giving her the vital rest her body needed. I also gave it to her twice the following day, but didn’t do any after that. I spent the rest of the night in the rocking chair with her, and the next day she took most of her naps on me. By the second day, I noticed huge improvement, and by the third day, she was acting almost completely herself again. By 5 or 6 days, she was 100% healthy. For a solid week, I gave her garlic and Echinacea 6-8 times a day, and did the garlic ear drops a minimum of 4 times a day.

Ear infections can be a scary thing to deal with….especially since they can involve some large complications if you don’t get rid of the fluid. They’re also extremely painful, and as a parent, it’s heart-wrenching to see your munchkin experience so much pain. But you can have excellent success treating ear infections at home, instead of going for the typical antibiotic. It was really neat to see how effectively the garlic worked- we haven’t had a lick of trouble with her ears since! My Dad, a biology professor, mentioned that from a biologist and medical point of view, while antibiotics typically do work, garlic ear oil works much more efficiently. This is because when you put garlic in the ear, this amazing healing food is getting directly where it needs to, immediately. On the other hand, an antibiotic has to go through the entire body- destroying probiotics and breaking down the immune system as it goes along- before it gets to the organ that needs healing. This is not only a waste of time, it also breaks down the rest of the body. Like my husband described, it’s kind of like blowing up a whole town just to kill one household.

On a side note, antibiotics do have their place, and I’m not entirely opposed to them. I think there’s cases where natural healing isn’t working fast enough and you’re dealing with something too serious to mess around with.

So, if you’re going to forgo the doctor trip, what do you do, and how do you know the ear’s infected anyway?

We didn’t know for certain that Viviana’s ears were infected. Everything pointed to that, but we couldn’t see and know for sure. However, unlike antibiotics, if her ears had happened to be healthy, garlic ear oil wasn’t going to hurt them. In fact, using garlic ear oil during a cold can be a good preventative. My family owns and makes good use of a Dr. Mom otoscope, which allows you to see inside the ear, just like a doctor. This is a good determiner if you want to know whether the ear’s healthy, fluid-filled, or infected.

Next, treat rigorously with garlic ear oil drops, as well as garlic internally. Heat your bottle of ear drops in hot water, till they’re neutral or slightly warm when dropped on your wrist. Make sure you don’t burn the small ear- but you don’t want to shock it with cold liquid, either. Drop one to two drops in the ear, and place a small piece of cotton ball in the opening to help keep the liquid from spilling out. You don’t have to leave this in very long, just 5-15 minutes.

Consistency is the key, and it’s something I can be rather bad about remembering. I used Vivi’s sleep and wake times to remind me to “drug” her, as I was desperately adamant about seeing this one through consistently, and totally kicking the cold/ear infection.

Garlic isn’t guaranteed to get rid of all the fluid, though all its healing properties do help immensely. However, antibiotics don’t necessarily either- lots of people go on repeat or long-term doses of antibiotics, in failed attempts to get rid of lingering fluid, which can cause permanent problems. Even though garlic isn’t guaranteed to get rid of all the fluid, keep at it for a solid week or longer- several days after the issues seem to have dissolved. Towards the end, you can cut down to 2 or 3 times a day, if the congestion has disappeared and the ear seems to be healthy.

My Mom purchases this garlic ear oil which has been really effective. Since I didn’t have any on hand last year when I had some minor issues (which the garlic took care of within a couple uses), I made my own, which has worked effectively as well. All I did was cover several cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped into small pieces, in olive oil and heat on very low for about 4 hours. Then I let it cool, and strained it through a cheese cloth. I store it in a bottle with a dropper lid. You can also use the same technique, but instead of heating it, let it sit in the sun for several days. I needed the ear oil immediately, so I didn’t have time to try this method. I also used this oil on my breast when fighting mastitis this last summer.

All the information in the health realm can get pretty confusing, which is rather intimidating. However, it’s always worth it to do your own research- your family’s health, well-being, and life-span are all at stake here. I know I have much to learn, and I’ve been blessed to learn some of what I do know from others who’ve already done the homework. That’s one great benefit to finding others who enjoy natural healing- you can swap homework results. :-)

May your journey into natural healing be blessed!


  1. YAY for garlic! Great post...and I've decided I definitely need to make some garlic oil to have on hand. Do you know how long the "shelf life" is? I would guess it would be as long or longer than just straight olive oil, but I don't know...

  2. I've actually heard that garlic oil doesn't have a very long shelf life, for risk of botulism, but I haven't seen substantiation of that. When I make it, I keep it refrigerated and try to use it in a week or so, or add the remaining to dinner :-). Actually my favorite is GOOT - Garlic Oil and Olive oil Treatment. Well Tell Me has a loooooong thread about it. It is great for ear infections! I swab the inner ear with a q-tip.

    I also often just use the fumes from a garlic clove (An onion also works, but isn't as conveniently shaped). I peel a garlic clove and slice it in half and immediately (so as not to lose fume power) insert it in my ear like a hearing aid (it is NOT inserted in the inner part, just inserted to cover up the ear opening and trap in the fumes - it's usually just the right size to fit and hold itself in there; I rarely need to hold it in place). It can work really well, and I often feel a "tingle" from the strength of the garlic fumes. (Yes, even as an adult, I do get ear infections :-P).

    I just bought a book on Amazon called "Childhood Ear Infections: A Parent's Guide to Alternative Treatments." I'm interested to start reading it! Thankfully my 2 1/2 year old has only had two ear infections, and both quickly cleared up with GOOT and/or garlic oil.

    And I agree that sometimes Tylenol is really a fine option in the urgency of the moment! I try not to pull it out much, but it's one of many tools to have on hand.

  3. Susan, thanks for the lengthy response! I'm definitely going to have to look into this more, because I'd never heard that garlic oil has a short shelf life. I'm using the stuff I made last year. And Mom keeps bottles open for a long time- but maybe there's something different with the store-bought stuff? Botulism is the risk factor with canning, right? Which has some fairly severe implications?

    Have you ever had issues with "burning" with the garlic clove, Susan? After we totally burnt my brother's hand (created major blisters) trying to remove a wart, I've been a little leery of using a plain piece of garlic directly.... :-)

    I heard something recently too about creating an "onion water"- I'll have to go back and read how you do it exactly, but I think you were just boiling or cooking some onion in water, and then once cooled, dropping in some of the onion water. She said it made for instant pain relief.

    Thanks again, Susan! You seem like you really know your stuff. :-) Obviously, Jessica, I don't really know about shelf life- my assumption was the same as yours, till Susan's mentioning. So I'll be looking into it....

    That book sounds interesting!

  4. We love garlic for everything sickness. I'm glad Vivi is feeling better!

  5. The exposed/cut part of the clove isn't directly applied to the skin, just directed in towards the ear, so I've never had issues with burns or blisters. It does give a tingling feeling, from the fumes, but I consider that evidence that it's working well, and it certainly doesn't hurt. (I first heard of this option on the remedies part of BHS, btw.)

  6. Thanks for the response about the shelf life, Susan! That's surprising about the possibility of botulism, I would have thought that the properties in the garlic would kill that...? But anyway, that's good to know and so I guess I won't make any until I need it. :)

    Have you ever used the garlic clove fume thing for Hans? Or is that just something that adults use?

  7. The woman who suggested the garlic clove fume thing on BHS used it for her babies and kids (just holding it against their ear - not trying to get it to hold by friction as their ears are too small and little people are too wriggly!) with good success.

    I know, you'd think that garlic would have an indefinite shelf life, but I've found that anti-bacterial/fungal/whatever properties have their limits. My garlic heads have developed mold in the fridge (I now keep them in the pantry!), and I also developed a candida (yeast) rash from using a homemade deodorant that contained virgin coconut oil (which should have prevented that, given its antifungal properties - but the deodorant also contained cornstarch which is infamous for causing yeast rashes :-P).

  8. I'm learning a lot from you, Susan.... :-)

    I'm eager to look more into the botulism stuff...