The pain is intense and it usually comes on so fast that you’re scrambling for anything that can bring relief.
Thing #1, who is 6 years old now, still regularly gets an ear infection with every cold. We have had a bottle of prescription otic pain-reliever that we even take with us whenever we travel because it’s the only thing that has ever soothed him.
As much as we love those ear drops, I’ve decided to try a natural version. I grew up receiving homeopathic remedies from my mom and I truly believe in their healing power. But for some reason, we’re a society that seems to think that synthetic chemicals are ALWAYS the best choice so off I run for our prescription meds when there’s a crisis. Now, I’m not saying that pharmaceuticals are unnecessary. There’s definitely a time and a place for them but we tend to forget that this Earth holds an abundance of healing plants. These plants have been shown, historically, to treat certain ailments. In fact, there are many synthetic drugs out there that are made from or made to mimic what is found in nature! My hope is to use my new-found curiosity for these medicinal herbs and be able to apply what I learn to my family’s daily life.
*Added May 2013 – We’ve been using this oil for Thing #1’s earaches for over 6 months now with seemingly no difference in efficacy between the natural and the pharmaceutical. It works about as quickly and is just as soothing. Amazing!*
Herbs for Ears
Mullein has long been a renowned healing plant to soothe ear ache and inflammation. The “PDR for Herbal Medicines” states that mullein leaves contain mucilage, triterpene saponins, caffeic acids and flavonoids, all of which can attribute to it’s pain-relieving power.
Calendula has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties along with being an astringent and antiseptic. It can also help relieve pain, fight infection, and can speed up healing time.
St. John’s wort works to inhibit infections and helps relieve nerve pain.
It has been claimed that garlic possesses these qualities to make it a beneficial part of the remedy: Anti-fungal, antibiotic, antioxidant, and antiseptic. Sounds good to me!
In one study, published in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine in 2001, a team of pediatricians recruited 103 children ages 6 to 18 with earaches resulting from acute otitis media. The subjects were randomly split into groups and assigned to be treated with either anesthetic ear drops or an herbal ear drop known as Otikon, which contains extracts of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agents like garlic, calendula, St. John’s wort and mullein (a flowering plant) in an olive oil solution. At the end of the study, the researchers found reductions in ear pain in both groups, and concluded that the herbal ear drop was just as effective as the anesthetic one. www.altmeds.com
Of course, you should always see your doctor if the ear ache is acute. Some ear infections can end up being very severe and need medical attention. Never put oil into an ear that is leaking fluid or if you suspect that the ear drum has ruptured.
Earache Remedy Oil
3/4 cup dried mullein leaves and/or flowers
1/4 cup dried Calendula petals
1/4 cup dried St. John’s wort
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups olive oil
-Combine the dried mullein, Calendula, St. John’s wort, and garlic in a small crock pot. Stir in the olive oil.
-Heat on “Warm” or “Low” for about an hour.
-Turn off the heat and let infuse (covered) overnight.
-Strain solids from oil with cheesecloth as you pour into a small jar or bottle.
-Keep in the refrigerator to keep from spoiling – just make sure and warm it to body temperature before applying to ears. Stand your bottle in a cup of hot water until the oil is warm not hot. Check the temp before application.
-Or you can add a preservative to keep it at room temperature. In my soap making, I’ve found that Optiphen is a great preservative that is paraben and formaldehyde-free. You can add it to your oil at the rate of 0.5%-1.5%.
Apply oil to ear with a small dropper. Gently pull the earlobe to help the oil travel down.