Oweee! Junior's tugging on his ear while mastering some amazing high-pitched shrills. No one can sleep. And frustration and exhaustion wrestle with throbbing pain for the top bill in the earache show. Can natural remedies for ear infections really help?
While there's no denying that ear infections can be particularly challenging for both kids and parents, most of these infections are not dangerous, and usually resolve on their own within a week.
Nevertheless, parents want some solutions, and fast. Here's what to know and do for ouchy ears, as well as how best to use natural remedies for ear infections as alternatives to antibiotics.
Basic facts about ear infections
- Earaches can indicate an infection of the external ear canal (swimmer's ear) or the middle ear, the kind that accompanies colds.
- Middle ear infections are more common in children because the Eustachian tube is much shorter in kids than in adults and more likely to get clogged. When healthy, the Eustachian tube's job is to adjust the pressure in the middle ear and drain fluid from it.
- Because the Eustachian tube is short, un-drained fluid can easily travel along it into the middle ear where it collects, producing a sticky substance that prevents the eardrum and middle ear bones from vibrating freely. This may reduce hearing quality until the condition is resolved.
- Ear infections can cause mild or severe pain, or there may be no pain at all. In babies, symptoms often only include fussiness and night waking, runny nose, or fever.
- Ear pain tends to worsen at night while lying down.
Most pediatricians will automatically prescribe antibiotics when they see a red ear. A few things to consider before filling that prescription:
- Fifty percent of ear infections are caused by viruses, and antibiotics will do nothing for these.
- There is no way to determine whether a virus or bacteria is causing the infection, and bacteria will become resistant to antibiotics if they are overused.
- Antibiotics have a tendency to weaken the immune system and cause recurrent ear infections.
- Natural remedies and immune system support can relieve pain and effectively solve the ear infection.
Simple measures for ear infections
Raise the head of the bed or crib to help the tubes drain naturally. Kids complain of ear pain less during the day because they're upright and distracted and the tubes are draining freely. When they are horizontal at night, the tubes fill, causing pain.
Offer fluids. The very action of swallowing helps the tubes to open and drain, and fluids will help fight an infection.
Sleep is important for the body to recover from any condition. If necessary, use Ibuprofen sparingly and only t night or nap times so that your child can get the rest she needs.
Choose natural remedies for ear infections
I've talked lots about the benefit of probiotics to restore the natural, healthy flora of bacteria to the digestive system. What does a healthy gut have to do with an earache? Healthy gut=healthy immune system, and a kid with a strong immune system is less likely not suffer from recurring ear infections.
Mullien and Allicin Oils Mullien, is a plant commonly found on roadsides; The oil is anti-inflammatory. Allicin, one of the active compounds in garlic, works as a anti-microbal and also reduces inflammation. Buy individually or in a combined formula to drop directly into ears.
Echinacea stimulates the body to produce more white blood cells that fight invasion by viruses or bacteria. There are several great non-alcohol glycerin-based preparations for kids. Use for up to 5 days. For babies under one year give 10 drops three times per day, and for children over one year, 20 drops three times per day.
There are several popular multi-remedy homeopathic earache remedies that you can pick up at your local health food store. They are easy to administer (ie. Taste like candy), and can help to resolve ear pain quickly. Many classic homeopaths recommends individual remedies such as these:
Belladonna 30c In the first stage, especially if symptoms have come on quickly and there is fever. The child is usually tired.
Hepar-sulph. 30c The most effective remedy for ear infections, and the best choice for swimmer's ear. Can be used for any ear ache, especially if the ear seems tender to touch and the child is fussy or irritable.
Pulsatilla. 30c For mild ear infections without severe pain, and for lingering symptoms with thickening nasal discharge. The child is often clingy.
Chinese herbs & acupuncture
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are extremely effective in speeding the recovery from ear infections and preventing them from coming back by treating both the symptoms and the root cause of the condition. A classic formula called xiao chai hu tang can help support good digestive health while resolving the infection. Speak to your practitioner to discuss at treatment plan.
How to prevent recurrent ear infections
Stop dairy products (cow's milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese). If you are breastfeeding, then stop dairy in your own diet. Cow's milk proteins will travel through your breast milk.
Use colostrum, one capsule twice a day mixed with food such as applesauce. This is the first pre-milk substance that is secreted in mammals for a few days after birth. It contains immune system stimulants that prevent infections. Cow's colostrum is freeze dried and packaged in capsules, which can be opened and mixed with food. Be to use choose organic.
Take Chinese herbs. Ask your acupuncturist to prescribe a formula to support your child's general health and constitution so the ear infections don't become a regular, bothersome event.
Danger signs… call your health provider if there is:
- Persistent high fever greater than 102°F for more than 3 days or any fever in babies less than four months old
- Fluid draining from the ear (not orange colored wax which is normal)
- Illness that seems to last longer than a few days
- Extreme lethargy and/or unresponsiveness
What natural remedies for ear infections work best for you
Add a comment to let us know!
My mom used to soak cotton balls in white vinegar and put them in our ears when we had ear infections. I hated vinegar for the longest time because of this, but it worked. We have a Boston Terrier who often gets ear infections and the same remedy works for him too.
Isn’t belladonna poisonous?
Homeopathic drugs are not poison,because you get just few or even less of the plant or any other original substances.But,plant buy itself is poison.I use it a lot for me and my 3 kids
As an herb not as homeopathy.
We use garlic mullein oil and hydrogen peroxide. They both work great. I’ve used them on myself as we’ll, and they worked wonderfully. The garlic mullein oil also soothes, while treating the infection.
A few drops of white vinegar or alcohol will instantly relieve the pain. I believe they also help to clear up the bacteria and dry things out.
great advice. In addition to these things, we also do Onion Ear Muffs. Cut an onion in half, heat in microwave until very warm (about 45 seconds), cover one 1/2 with a cloth towel (or both 1/2s for both ears) and hold over the ear(s) until they are cool. Be careful not to touch the ear with them as they are hot! We do this about 3 times per day until the pain subsides (at which time we are still continuing with the garlic mullein oil). Usually the pain is gone in less than 24 hours (more like 8 hours) using both the onions and the oil methods. LOVE natural medicine.
This is a great article! Lots of good remedies for ear infections. I find that acupuncture works incredibly well to manage the pain and let the body heal the ear infection without antibiotics.
MR PALEO says
Another great article ! FYI, speaking of treatments, whey sometimes works as well as probiotics, and I don’t usually recommend administering colostrum, not that it can’t be effective, but please do due diligence as to how we garner colostrum… very few companies are, how shall I say… appropriate…
I was wondering about that!
3 drops of basil on a cotton ball push lightly into ear. The vapor on the cotton ball will penetrate and reach the infection. Lympatic massage with frankincense and grapefruit under ear and down lenght of neck, when lympnodes have accumulated toxins. Oregano is a hot oil but a very strong antibiotic. Apply to bottom of feet with coconut oil. 1-2 drops applied every 2-3 hrs. Do not apply oils directly into ear canal.
Jane Cassidy says
My go-to remedy for ear infection is to wash the ear out with cooled goldenseal tea. I use 1/4 tsp goldenseal powder to 1 Cup boiling water, let it cool.
I have found that using garlic oil prevents ear infections from forming in the first place. At the first sign that my son has a cold, I infuse garlic into olive oil for 24 hrs. When it is ready I use a cotton ball to squeeze the oil into his ears 2x a day. He hasn’t had a single ear infection in the two years that I’ve been doing this. (And before this he had 3 ear infections within 18 months!) I will definitely bookmark this, though, just in case! My only concern here is the belladonna. Shouldn’t there be a warning in there to be extra cautious with that one? I have heard that although it can help people with seizures, too high of a dose can /cause/ seizures in children.
Hi Emily – Thanks for your comment. That’s great that you’ve had success with garlic oil. As for the belladonna, since it’s a homeopathic remedy, it isn’t toxic. Hope that helps!
I recently found “Nutribiotic” ear drops with Grapefruit seed extract and tea tree oil. The typical homeopathic drops were not cutting it this time for my 13 year old daughter. These drops found at our local co-op along with a stronger 50 billion probiotic kicked the super painful ears in 2 days. Just to share, if it has always worked….it may not always work. I am so thankful I found a new homeopathic drop for her and avoided it worsening. I was super worried we would have to go in this time.
I always use homeopathic drugs.Belladonna works at the beginning,when the fever is high,face are red,child is sweating ,but also another drug,like Ferrum Phosphoricum works great.and,Ferrum Phos.works for 60%,or more in child ear infection…pulsatilla works in later stage,when infiltration progresses and there is puss there
My son started antibotics yesterday, but I would like to go a natural route. Can he take homeopathic remedies at the same time? Or stop antibiotics and switch? He is just a year old, and pretty positive it is bacterial. Anything will help!
I can’t give you medical advice on stopping antibiotics as I am not your healthcare practitioner. However, I can tell you that you could take homeopathic remedies at the same time or switch. It is completely up to you otherwise I would suggest consulting your healthcare practitioner.
My son had dozens of earaches when he was small. He also had sleep apnea due to enlarged tonsils and adenoid–so the ENT specialist insisted that he MUST get tubes put into his ears. My chiropractor begged me to let him adjust my son several times before the scheduled tonsillectomy, and I made the surgeon promise that if my son’s ears no longer looked inflamed when he was admitted, he would NOT put tubes in. Well, the adjustments worked–as the chiro explained it the eustachian tubes angle more and more downward as we grow, but sometimes that angle is interrupted by vertebrae being misaligned in the neck. So after the adjustments, everything was draining properly! He never had another earache/ear infection again.
My son had dozens of earaches when he was small. He also had sleep apnea due to enlarged tonsils and adenoid–and the doctor didn’t like the looks of his red ears, either. So the ENT specialist insisted that he MUST get tubes put into his ears to prevent further infection, and he wanted to do both procedures while my son was under. My chiropractor begged me to let him adjust my son several times before the scheduled tonsillectomy, and I made the surgeon promise that if my son’s ears no longer looked inflamed when he was admitted, he would NOT put tubes in. Well, the adjustments worked–as the chiro explained it the eustachian tubes angle more and more downward as we grow, but sometimes that angle is interrupted by vertebrae being misaligned in the neck. So after the adjustments, everything was draining properly! He never had another earache/ear infection again.
I wished I had known what a chiropractor can do.
My daughter had tubes inserted after episodes of ear infections and related complications like bronchitis and pneumonia. This decision was made after a scary 5 courses of antibiotics. How much antibiotics can you put into a small body of a 3 years old?!
Anyway, after the surgery, all is fine. However, I have observed that my daughter’s immune system is weaker. She loves fruits and vegetables so her “healthy intake” is not an issue. Now, she catches a cold easily as well as cough.
Way to go with the decision you have made. I hope your post will be read by many moms who are experiencing children with ear infections.
My three year old has had a couple ear infections lately. So I bought the colostrum you recommend (Radiant Life powder). It came today and says for children under six consult a physician. What is your recommendation for use for her? How much and how often? Thanks so much!
Rebecca dawkins says
Ear infections can sometimes be highly contagious causing mild or extreme pain. Rather these infections can also thrive over the outer part of ear. Hence curable remedies are there for every infection whether internal or external and for external ear problems Tea tree oil soap is the best remedy I,ve ever went through. A highly curable and beneficial antiseptic for such infections. By the way, a highly informative and plausible article. Keep posting
A new non-medicinal remedy that removes the Eustachian tube clog that causes pain in the middle ear:
Kids love it because it’s like a lollipop.
Can mold or allergies cause bronchitis?
I have had bronchitis twice this year. First time was around new years (after a very large snow storm) and now again in Nov. I’ve been sick for two weeks and diagnosed with bronchitis (after having a viral infection). My question is: can mold or an allergy also be a factor in getting bronchitis? I work in a building that constantly has a leaky roof (actually water pouring down) after rain or snow melting and has a constant smell of mold/mildew. I have an allergy to mold and have problems breathing while at work. Thoughts…
am I crazy to feel this may be the cause or helping me get sick?
Emily Bartlett says
This is a great question! It’s hard to know for sure what may be causing bronchitis, but mold is certainly an issue for many folks and its presence can stir up symptoms that look like allergies or infection.
Wishing you the best!
Rhianna Hawk says
My son gets frequent ear infections and I know that all of the antibiotics that the doctor gives him aren’t good for his gut, so I want to find a more natural way to treat the issue. Natural supplements sound like a good way to go, and I’ll be sure to check out the oils you mentioned as well as Echinacea, to promote his body’s ability to fight off the infections himself. I’ll have to talk to him about acupuncture as a potential treatment as well, but if I spin it in the right way (he’s seven) then I’m sure he’ll be all for it.