Natural Remedies for Summer Earaches
Ahhhh, summer. Warm sunshine, swimming, kayaking, hiking, biking, gardening…and all the joys that summer brings. But summer time in the pool can bring earaches as well. In fact, ear infections are one of the primary reasons parents take their child to the doctor! For all you parents out there, and anyone else who might encounter an occasional earache themself, ear infections will be the focus of this month’s health topic.
For that occasional earache there are lots of natural therapies that can be used as an effective and comforting treatment. Using a combination of the following herbal therapies for ear pain can improve symptoms within a few hours, and often completely resolve the issue in 48 hours.
Three ways to reduce pain:
Rest or sleep on a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel (the towel is to prevent burning, and it’s best if the hot water bottle is only ½ full to make it softer). The heat can bring a lot of comfort to a painful ear. Do NOT use a heating pad.
Massage around the sinuses, ear, jaw and head in a downward direction on the neck. This can help drain ear fluids and stimulate pressure points in the area. If this is uncomfortable, keep the sessions short but frequent. For added benefit, dilute some lavender essential oil (4 – 7 drops) in 1 oz olive oil and use that as a massage oil.
Lay on the opposite side from the bothered ear. Warm a rolled up sock with 1-2 cups of sea salt inside it in the microwave, and lay the sock on top of the affected ear.
Four ways to reduce infection:
‘Gather or buy some fresh oregano, thyme, or basil leaves. Warm a quarter cup of the leaves over a low flame in a dry skillet until the leaves are limp, not burned. Don’t overcook. When the leaves are cool enough to hold, squeeze them between your fingers over the ear opening. Holding the head to the side, let three to five drops of the leaf juice fall into the ear.’ – Excerpted from Rainforest Home Remedies by Rosita Arvigo.
Place 3 – 7 drops of Garlic Mullein Earache Oil in the affected ear (this can be purchased in health food stores). It’s easiest if you are lying on your side with the affected ear upward to place the drops in. The oil should be room temperature or slightly warmed (test it on your wrist first for a comfortable temperature). After administering the drops, lay with the affected ear upward for about 10 minutes with a hot water bottle next to the ear. After that you can roll over with the affected ear downward over a hot water bottle if that brings comfort. This remedy works because garlic is a natural antimicrobial, addressing infections of both a bacterial and viral nature. Mullein is an analgesic, relieving the pain associated with earaches.
- Prepare an olive/garlic mixture by putting ¼ cup of olive oil and one chopped clove of garlic in the blender for one minute. Remove from blender and heat until this mixture is warm (but not hot). Dip a cotton ball in the mixture and place in the affected ear.
Cut an onion in half. Place cut side down in a hot, dry pan to warm the onion. Wrap in a towel and place close enough to the ear to feel the heat.
After doing any of the above remedies, which can be repeated 2 – 3 times a day, it’s a good idea to follow up with the massage that is described to help reduce pain above. Keep well hydrated with lots of water or herbal teas. It’s also good to avoid sugar, fruit juices and sugary drinks as they deplete your immune system.
Important Note – NEVER put anything in the ear if you suspect the eardrum has ruptured or if there is any drainage from the ear.
General Information on Prevention
- Ear infections are often preceded by cold symptoms, especially runny noses. Mucous can be a lovely breeding ground for infection. So if you have signs of a cold, make sure you have good nutrition, are well hydrated, and take herbs and supplements to support your immune system.
- Remove dairy from your diet as it causes an increase of mucous.
- Remove/Reduce sugar from your diet as it depletes the immune system and is very inflammatory (no orange juice, fruit juices or soda). Water is always best.
- Breastfed babies are at least half as likely as their formula-fed counterparts to get ear infections.
- Check your Vitamin D3 and zinc levels (often they are deficient and they are important to immune function).
- Consider a probiotic, particularly if you have received antibiotics in the past.
- Don’t smoke and minimize wood smoke exposure.
- Reduce stress.
- To avoid swimmer’s ear, you can make a mixture of 1 tsp of white vinegar to 2 oz of boiled water. Let cool. Place two drops in the ear after swimming.
- Boost the immune system: There are several products you can purchase in a health food store (Herbalists and Alchemists, Herb Pharm, GAIA herbs, Planetary Herbs all offer good choice)
- Drink Garlic Lemonade – Mince 2 cloves fresh garlic and add 1 qt of boiling water. Cover and steep for 30 minutes. Strain out garlic and add juice of 1 whole lemon. Sweeten with maple syrup.
Fever can be an important natural process for fighting an infection. Taking things to lower the fever can actually impair your body’s ability to fight an infection and may prolong the infection. Obviously if the fever is high, you need to seek help, but if other therapies can reduce pain, you can avoid the use of NSAID’s or aspirin.
There is truth to the old saying, ‘starve a fever, feed a cold’. If you have a fever you are generally not hungry. It’s important to drink lots of fluids (water, herb tea), but reduce eating for that puts further strain on your immune system and can cause indigestion. A light vegetable or chicken garlic soup is more than enough.
When to See Your Doctor
Here’s when you should absolutely seek medical advice:
- Child under 6 months old.
- There is pain that won’t resolve after 24 – 48 hours.
- There is high fever (greater than 39 C or 102.2 F) and persistent ear pain.
- There is drainage from the ear.
- There is neck pain or stiffness.
- Any sign of convulsions.
- Anytime you are concerned.
Now that you are absolutely prepared for fighting earaches naturally… I hope you enjoy your summer!!