Natural Remedies for Ear Infection

If your little one has ever had an ear infection, you know how miserable it can be. Pumpkin, our four-year-old, just had her very first ear infection a few days ago. It was actually pretty scary at first, because she woke up with a moderate fever that suddenly spiked to just under 103 degrees, but she had no other symptoms for hours! I kept asking her if anything hurt and she kept saying “no”. There wasn’t any ear pain at all until late in the day. Since I didn’t know what to treat, I made her some herbal iced tea to sip and we just waited for something to happen. Not a good way to spend your time! Once the ear pain hit, I finally knew what we were dealing with and I got busy consulting my most trusted herbal information sources. First off, here’s what we DIDN’T do.

NO Fever Reducers

We parents have all been brainwashed into thinking that a fever must be “controlled”, but reducing a fever is one of the worst things we can do! God created our bodies with a complex and effective immune system. Messing with the first line of defense, a fever, can make an easy-to-fight-off infection become something requiring toxic medications. Learn more about why we aren’t afraid of fevers, why we think they are actually a *good* thing and why Tylenol and Motrin/Advil aren’t as safe as we used to think.

NO Antibiotics

Many pediatricians hand out antibiotics like candy (come to think of it, they shouldn’t be handing out candy so freely, either! ;-) ). If you were raised on antibiotics, it probably seems like I’m over-reacting, but antibiotics should not be administered unless they are absolutely necessary. When it comes to childhood illnesses, including ear infections, they are almost never needed. My post on antibiotics will be coming in the next week or two.

Did you know that ear infections can be viral? Antibiotics are completely ineffective against a virus, though they are often prescribed anyways. Even worse, almost all ear infections will clear up on their own, even if they are bacterial! Out of 240 confirmed ear infections, only 7 (that’s just 3%) didn’t clear up on their own in four days or less. Did you catch that?! That means 97% of ear infections will clear up without antibiotics! So, the wait-and-see approach  would avoid 97% of unnecessary antibiotics. The other 3% *might* be possible to treat with home remedies…

Reduce Pain and Speed Healing

I know that you’re cringing, right now. “Wait-and-see?! I can’t just sit here and watch my baby suffer for FOUR DAYS!” Deep breath. I’ve got you covered! First of all, it’s very unlikely that the pain will really last four days. Most children recover much more quickly than that. Here’s what to do while you wait for the infection to clear.

Heat helps!

I had chronic ear infections as a child and I vividly remember the one I had at the age of 16 when my ear drum burst. It HURT! (Yes, I was on antibiotics and they didn’t help at all.) What helped was heat. I sat in the recliner with a heating pad against my ear all day. Whenever I removed it, the pain would return, but as long as I had it on there, it hardly hurt at all. You must be VERY careful with a small child and heat. Please don’t leave them unattended. There are several different things you can use:

  1. Electric heating pad: This has the most potential to burn since the temperature fluctuates, so keep your own hand on it!
  2. Rice-filled heating pad: Once it’s cooled enough to not burn, there is no risk of the heat increasing, so this is a good choice.
  3. Warm washcloth: It will need to be warmed often, as it won’t retain heat long, but the moist heat can really help.
  4. Onion: Yes, really! Bake for 20 minutes, with the skin on, slice in half and cool until it won’t burn. Hold the cut side against the ear until it is no longer warm. It also helps heal the infection.

Heal the infection

*Safety Tip*: If there is any puss coming out of the ear, that means the ear drum is perforated (it tore, due to the pressure). It will heal, but DO NOT put anything at all inside an ear that is perforated. I will explain alternatives for perforated ear drums.

  1. Lavender essential oil: Rub a few drops of lavender essential oil(make sure it’s a high quality oil, like the one from Mountain Rose Herbs) behind the ear. It helps to heal the infection, but it also relieves pain (try it the next time you get burnt!). Start just behind the ear and gently rub down along the path that the Eustachian tube follows. From where my finger is in the first picture, gently follow the curve of the jaw, like the second picture. This, along with the heat, helped quickly.
  2. Ear drop oil: Garlic and mullein oil is highly effective in speeding up the process of healing. If you like, you can buy it ready-made in most health food stores, but here’s what to do if you’re making it yourself.
    ~Crush or mince 4 to 5 cloves of garlic and let it sit in a saucepan for 15 minutes (this allows the oxygen to activate the healing properties).

    ~Add 1/4 cup dried mullein.
    ~Add one ounce of olive oil and/or virgin coconut oil. I used a combination, since coconut oil is anti-viral (remember, ear infections can be nothing more than a virus!).
    ~Put the sauce pan inside of a larger sauce pan half filled with water (or use a double boiler, if you have one ;-) )

    ~Turn on the heat and get the oil warm, but do not “cook” the garlic. Once the oil is warm, turn off the heat and let sit. The hot water in the pan below will keep the oil warm for quite a long time.
    ~Once the oil is about to body temperature, strain out the garlic and herbs. Use a coffee filter or a clean tea towel, not just a mesh strainer or cheesecloth. It is crucial that you do not accidentally get bits of garlic and herbs in your child’s ear!

    ~Add essential oils, if you want. This will take the healing properties up a notch! I added one drop each of tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender and oregano. If your child has sensitive skin, you might want to keep have some garlic-mullein oil set aside without the other essential oils. Switch to the garlic-mullein oil if skin irritation occurs.
    ~Store the oil in a glass jar and heat it to body temperature by setting the jar in a bowl of hot water. Check the temperature of the oil on the inside of your wrist. Too hot and it will burn, too cold and it will cause pain.
    ~Use a dropper to put 2 to 3 drops in the ear. (Sing a song to keep the child distracted, since they will need to lay there for 30 seconds to allow the oil to get all the way in the ear canal.) The warmth of the oil helps to reduce the pain (as does the lavender oil) and can be used once an hour. Use at least four times a day, but preferably six or more, until the child is well.
    ~Also apply the oil to the bottoms of the child’s feet and cover with socks. This allows the garlic and essential oils to get into the system and fight the infection even more effectively!
    [If the ear drum is perforated, apply this oil behind the ear once an hour and apply to the bottoms of the feet every 3 to 4 hours. I'd also recommend using the baked and cut onion against the ear, since everything must be indirect treatment. You can also put 2 or 3 drops of the oil on a cotton ball and hold/tape it against the ear opening.]
  3. Garlic by mouth: If the child able to swallow it, finely chop some garlic and mix it with a spoonful of raw honey. Even just a small amount is extremely potent and will help to fight the infection. If the child is still breastfeeding, mama can take the garlic in honey 3 times a day and the benefits will be passed through the milk to the baby.
  4. Keep the head elevated: Try to figure out a way to keep the child propped up while sleeping. Laying down flat increases the pressure and, therefore, the pain. Just be sure that whatever you do doesn’t put a baby at risk of smothering.

We started this treatment in the early evening and Pumpkin’s fever broke and ear pain was gone in well under 24 hours (she was much better after just 12 hours!).

*A few important safety notes: A high fever will make a child very tired and inactive, but if the child is unresponsive, get medical attention. Unresponsive means that a baby is limp and can’t seem to focus eyes on you, an older child may seem weak, confused and unable to answer questions. Also, a high fever can lead to dehydration, so push liquids as much as possible. Coconut water is an excellent choice, since it’s full of electrolytes.

**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Please consider consulting a doctor, such as a naturopathic doctor or herbalist, for diagnosis and to determine the best course of treatment.

This post is linked up at Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Healthy Today Wednesday, Wildcrafting Wednesdays, Natural Living Link-up and Your Green Resource

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127 comments to Natural Remedies for Ear Infection

  • Justyn, this is great! I pinned in my Herbal folder for later reference. :-) I feel like you wrote this just for me!!

  • Stephanie

    May I post this on Pinterest? I think that this will help so many other Moms that are frustrated with antibiotics and ear infections that don’t go away.

  • Jan

    These are some great tips! My son had repeated ear infections when he was very young and we kept popping the antibiotics. BIG MISTAKE that took years to unravel. I wish I would have known about natural remedies back then! Pinning also! :)

    • Thanks, Jan! I had chronic ear infections and had more antibiotics than you can imagine. The docs put tubes in my ears and then I had chronic sinus infections! I’m thinking the antibiotics didn’t do very nice things for me, either. ;-) I hope what we’ve learned is helpful to other people. Thanks for pinning!
      By the way, I love the name of your blog! I’ll have to come over for a visit :-)

  • Michelle

    I’m 48 years old and I still suffer from ear infections all the time. This oil sounds amazing to me!! I have bought oils from a healthfood store before but they never seem strong enough. Cant wait to make this and add it to my Medicine cabinet! I also use Pine oil on the back of my ear mixed with Lavender as soon as I feel one coming on. Thank you so much for this recipe!!

  • Bethany

    We like to do preventative care, as well, before an ear infection starts. Any time my kids get a head cold (usually the precursor to an ear infection), we use tea tree and peppermint oil mixed with coconut oil, and rub down the eustachian tube, on their chest, and on the bottoms of their feet. I do it at least 3 times a day, and for the kids that I’ve done it with (didn’t know about natural remedies with #1), we haven’t had any ear infections.

  • Thank you for sharing this remedy – I’ve always used oregano oil in my boys ears and as a substitute for antibiotics – I’m working to help us all get back on a more natural track!!!

  • [...] Creative Christian Mama has some great natural ear infection remedies. She had some great tips and informational suggestions to keep you away from medicine when you or your little one has an ear infection! [...]

  • I am so very pleased to have discovered both your blog and this article. My nephew suffers from recurrent ear infections and this post has proved invaluable:-) I would feel honoured if your were to share your posts with us at Seasonal Celebration Sunday @ http://naturalmothersnetwork.com
    Rebecca x

    • Thanks so much, Rebecca! It always makes me so happy to hear that sharing something we have learned is a blessing to somebody else! :-) I will be sure to join you all next Sunday and look forward to exploring Natural Mothers Network.

  • [...] the weather heats up, my natural remedies shift from cold-weather issues, like ear infections, to things like sunburns and bug bites. Much as we love getting outside to enjoy God’s [...]

  • Its the middle of the night and I am consulting your post – Thank you for your help!

  • [...] Did you know that most ear infections will heal on their own without any intervention? When antibiotics are given, it often leads to chronic ear infections, which I had as a baby. Instead of going down that road, how about trying some tried and true natural remedies? This post has our own story of treating my daughter’s ear infection at home! [...]

  • Hi! Just found you from MAM. This website and your natural remedies are a total inspiration and answer to prayer. Yay! Thanks so much for your posts. Most of the time natural healing feels like I am playing with fire, but I feel like I can follow your lead and be comfortable before I go off in my own researching direction! Thanks!

    • That is so wonderful to hear, Kelley! Thanks so much! I remember how intimidating it can be to try to dive into the world of herbs and natural remedies, so I love helping other people get started. :-)

  • Kristin

    One more idea for prevention of ear infections – CHIROPRACTORS. My daughter suffered from recurrent ear infections from the time she was 6 months old until she was about 12. She had tubes in her ears 3 times & her adenoids removed. She is now also allergic to many anti-bioticis which I blame on the doctor just prescribing them over and over. After her third set of tubes fell out she got another ear infection. A friend recommended she see a chriropractor. I started taking her & she hasn’t had an ear infection since!

    • That’s wonderful, Kristin! Thanks for telling us about it. Our insurance has never covered chiropractic visits and we aren’t able to afford them, but my dad has had nearly miraculous recovery from back injury thanks to a chiropractor. :-)

  • [...] Natural Remedies for Ear Infections [...]

  • Jessica

    I need help! A friend of mine shared this with me. My son is seven months old and so sick with eye, sinus and ear infection…..is there an age limit on this? Also the mullein used to make it…is it the flower or the leaf?

    • Poor baby boy!! At that age, I would just use the essential oils (very diluted) externally and then just garlic/mullein (leaf) oil in the ear. In the sinuses, I’d use salt water made with Celtic sea salt and purified, then boiled water (made up fresh every single time) and eye bright tea for the eyes made from purified and boiled water (made up fresh every time). It’s important to remember to strain everything well so that there are no particles getting in the ears, eyes or sinuses.

      If baby boy is breastfeeding, mama can take raw garlic (chopped up and stirred into a spoonful of honey- just swallow, don’t chew!) and lots of echinacea tea. Breast milk has been used to treat all of these infections (just a few drops in each ear/eye/nostril) is said to help quickly!

      I’d encourage you to find a naturopathic doctor, if there is one in your area, to help you treat your little guy with remedies like these. :-) I hope he recovers quickly!!

  • Thank you so much for your remedies! Im sharing this on my page, its so helpful!!
    Thanks Laura
    http://lifewelive4.blogspot.com/p/natural-remedies_5.html

  • Staar

    My son is 3 and has has an ear infection about once every two months. If we do not get them treated with drugs he suffers from them for two weeks to a month, not four days. Very few of his ear infections had a fever, most start with a cough at night. I will be trying some of these with him.

    • Poor little guy! I hope this helps. You might want to consider trying an elimination diet to see if he’s sensitive to something he is eating and it’s acting as a trigger. Dairy (pasteurized, not raw) and grains are the most common triggers, but a lot of people have gotten to where they can eat them again after doing the GAPS diet temporarily.

      Thanks so much for the comment and I hope you’re able to figure out the best way to help him! :-)

  • Deanna Collins

    Whenever our children get ear infections, we take a little onion and put it in a garlic press to squeeze out some juice. Then we put the onion juice in a syringe and drop enough drops in the ear canal until it is full. We massage around the ear and wiggle the ear some and lay with it in the ear for about 5 to 10 min. Usually one dose and the earache is gone, and the child will fall asleep right away from the relief.

    Also, many ear infections can be eliminated if milk products are taken away on first sign of a cold, respiratory flu, etc. due to milk increasing mucous.

    A doctor recommended the onion juice drops years ago for a friend, when she seemed to have recurrent ear infections as a child. She said it worked every time. It has worked every time for our 7 children, although we may get one ear infection a winter season….not many!

  • Jessica

    I am making this oil remedy. The recipe calls for an ounce of oil. It doesn’t seem to be enough oil. I used two Tablespoons of it. Help!

    • I just looked it up to double check, but two tablespoons is one ounce, so you’re doing it just right. There’s no reason you can’t use more oil and just increase the garlic, too, though. I just chose to make one ounce because that was all we needed. :-)

      Hope you’re feeling better!

  • KK

    This is how I found your site! I just came back from two appointments with my baby girl this afternoon. One with our chiropractor and one with our family physician. She’s been teething and miserable with a runny nose which turned into a yucky cough, followed by a fever and what has now been diagnosed as an ear infection. My chiropractor was the first one to tell me about avoiding fever reducers (you should see the reaction I get when people ask if I’ve given her anything and I say no) and treating illnesses naturally. He said to let it run it’s course. The family physician on the other hand is antibiotic happy and immediately wrote a script. When I mentioned that I didn’t want to use it she nodded and said not to wait longer than 24 hours. I hopped immediately on the computer when I got home and after much searching came across your site! Praise the Lord! Just the encouragement I needed to hear! Thank you!

    • I’m so glad to hear that you have such a wonderful chiropractor! I hope your little one recovers quickly (I know how miserable it is to have a sick baby). I’ll be praying for both of you! My hubby just started a new job and some of his coworkers think we’re pretty nutty for not using fever reducers. It hasn’t come up at our new church, yet, but I can only imagine what kind of reactions we’ll be getting there! Don’t worry, we “crazy” mamas usually end up with the healthiest kiddos. ;-)

  • martha

    I wish I knew about this when my kids were toddlers. My two oldest have terrible allergies and catch everything. I try to let their bodies fight but almost always end up with sinus infection and ear infection. Now their allergy doctor wants to start them on allergy shots. They are not growing well and I don’t know what else to do for them. Do you have any suggestions to help with seasonal and some food allergies? Also I make everything from scratch and all our food is gluten free. I have started giving them probiotics to try to help boost their immune system but am seeing little results.

    • I would definitely recommend going on the GAPS diet. It’s a temporary healing diet that should at least lessen their allergies, but it could actually get rid of them! Most people stay on the diet for six months to 2 years. You can learn more about what the diet is in the posts below. Since you already cook from scratch, it wouldn’t be too much of a big deal for you to make the switch. Please feel free to ask me any questions you have- I’m glad to help!! :-)
      What is GAPS?
      Our GAPS Plan
      Free GAPS Resources and Recipes

  • Shelley

    My adult son now has a lot of “ear pressure” which is caused by getting water stuck in his ear. This has been two weeks and he says it’s getting worse. He is concerned about it turning into an ear infection. Do you have any additional suggestions for dealing with this; water in the ear canal? Thanks so much!!! Your remedies are wonderful. I too, wish I had known this when my kids were little.

    • The garlic/mullein/essential oil blend can be used to prevent an infection, so that’s an option. For removing water from the ear canal, swimmers often use rubbing alcohol, which evaporates and helps reduce the moisture. There are even special ear drops to prevent “swimmer’s ear” in the pharmacy section, though I haven’t tried them. Some people will put in the rubbing alcohol or ear drops, tip their heads to the side to let the drops come out, then use a hair drier on low to try to evaporate any extra moisture from inside the ear canal. I did do that once, but it’s been years. It worked well, but you do have to be very careful about not burning the delicate skin around the ear.

      Since it’s been two weeks, I’m doubting that it’s just a matter of moisture. I would guess that the pressure is an infection trying to get started. There are ear scopes in the pharmacy section of Walmart and you or somebody else can take a peek to see if he has signs of infection. When I have ear problems, I take two echinacea capsule 5 or 6 times a day until I’m well, plus all the remedies listed above.

      I hope he recovers quickly! :-)

  • nancy

    I have itchie ear something terrible. what can I do.

    • Is the itching a chronic problem or something that started suddenly? I actually get itchy ears when I have seasonal allergies (strange, I know!), but I remember getting very itchy ears when I had ear infections as a child/teen.

      If it’s chronic, you’ll need to figure out what is triggering it. Hair spray, shampoo, conditioner, fabric softener on your pillow, seasonal allergies, etc. and try making changes to see if that makes it stop.

      If it’s a sudden development, it could be a change in what you’ve been using (anything new from the list above) or it could be a viral or bacterial ear infection or “swimmer’s ear”, which is an ear infection that can be especially itchy. Any of those should get better with the garlic/mullein/essential oil treatment. I suppose it’s possible that it could be some kind of fungal infection, too, though I haven’t heard of any that are common in the ears. Coconut oil is anti-fungal, so making the garlic oil using coconut oil would cover that possibility, too.

  • Rebecca Boukikaz

    This is good information. My mother-in-law grew up in another country where there was not access to doctors or medication. These are the things she used for ear infections and sinus infections. They really work.

  • Sara

    I wish I had known these when my daughter was having chronic ear infections. Some of them might have helped.
    I disagree thought with the recommendation against fever reducers. My daughter had chronic ear infections. When one would come on she would spike a fever. Many times she went from fine, playing and no fever, to 104.5 and higher in under an hour. In my child this would cause a seizure, Not fun to watch.(4 times in her 5 years) So in her case, we are hyper aware of her temperature and watch it very carefully when she does get a temperature. But yes if she is sick and running dramatically high fevers (for us anything over 103) or if it changes rapidly. We do dose with fever reducers.
    If I never see a child having a seizure, it will be too soon, let alone my child.
    But thank you for this information. It will be helpful to many people I am sure.

    • I understand that it is very scary to see a child having a febrile seizure. They are *usually* not dangerous for otherwise healthy children and can seldom be anticipated since they occur at the very beginning of the illness for most children (though not all). It is a decision that each parent has to make for themselves, though, which is why I like to point out that there is a choice. :-)

  • nancy

    I have had this for many years and I live with cocnut oil and have made the garlic infusion. I am thinking of going to an ear doctor since this is driving me crazy (and its a short road).
    thanks for your help
    itchie ear

    • I would have it checked out, too. :-) If you happen to know of a naturopathic doctor or a doctor who is more naturally-minded, that might be a good place to start. I hope you find an answer and some relief very quickly!

  • there is a way to make people (children including) more comfortable during fever without using any meds to mask or hinder the healing of a fever. put cool compresses under each arm. works amazingly well and helps keep away that sluggish feeling from fevers. i have personally used it many times and have used it in nursing homes and hospitals where i work =)

    • That’s a great tip- thanks! When I get overheated (I had heat stroke and over heat easily, now) I use cold compresses on my “pulse points”, like the insides of my wrists and the place on the front/side of the neck where you can feel the pulse from the arteries. It cool me down so quickly and is such a relief! I’ll have to remember your tip next time! :-)

  • Jeannette

    Where did you purchase your dried mullein? I can’t wait to try this.

    • Hi Jeannette,

      Sometimes I order from Mountain Rose Herbs and sometimes from the Bulk Herb Store. My affiliate “buttons” are on the upper right side of my page, if you’d like to use them. :-)

  • shannon

    I was wondering how long the garlic mixture can be stored?

    • I honestly can’t say for sure. It never went bad while I was using it, but I kept it in the fridge and planned to make a fresh batch every couple of days. Since I couldn’t be sure about how long it would keep, I figured I’d better err on the side of caution. I wish I could be more helpful, but unless I get a microscope and test it, I don’t know how to be sure about how long it would keep. :-)

  • Teniel

    Hi,

    What is mullein? My six year old has a cold. Clear runny nose and cough but nothing really bad. She has had lots of trouble with her ears. 1.5 years ago she had grommets put in. I think they have both fallen out now. Just yesterday she complained of a sore ear.

    I want to make this garlic oil up but do not know what mullein is? Can I use just the garlic and some tea tree oil? This information is so timely for me right now. I do not want to give her antibiotics. I feed them kefir everyday to try and help them with good gut flora.

    • Hi Teniel,

      Mullein is an herb that is very gentle and is fantastic for ear infections and colds. You can click on this link to buy it online or check a local health food store. It isn’t necessary, but I believe it did help a lot for my daughter. You can certainly just use garlic oil or even add a drop of tea tree oil, though. That is what I would do, if I didn’t have any mullein on hand.

      I hope your daughter recovers quickly!
      Blessings

  • Jo

    Just wanted to say thanks for an excellent post. Ear infections are rare in our house so when it hit us tonight, I was at a loss of what to do. I knew of garlic-mullein but had none at home. We stuck a little piece of onion (partially) into his ear (read on another site, though I think your idea is better), then rubbed some lavender oil behind his ear (something I normally don’t carry but happened to be given as a sample for buying a deodorant!) and used a warm washcloth to relieve the pain. And we also had him drink a little licorice root tea. Wouldn’t you know it, he’s now pain free only 3 or so hours later. It’s truly a miracle, I’m oh so relieved. He was in quite a bit of pain, crying and moaning, forcing me to sit with him. He also had a very sore throat (hence the licorice), which he’s not complaining about anymore. Thank you!

    • I’m so glad he’s feeling better! Aren’t herbs just wonderful?? That’s perfect timing that you happened to have some lavender oil. I have been very careful never to run out of lavender essential oil ever since I bought my first bottle! We use it for so many things now that I would miss it horribly if we ran out. ;-)
      Thank so much for taking the time to comment, Jo!

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  • Anita

    Usually, these methods have worked for my children, but they did not this time around for my 5 year old. I did the heat applications, garlic/mullein drops, lavender oil massage behind the ear for 4 days. It has been 5 days of pain for her now with no sign of improvement. I took her to the Naturopathic doctor today who looked inside her ears and confirmed infection on one side, but unable to see beyond the impacted wax on the more painful side. We are giving her homeopathics and some chinese herbs and broke down and gave her ibuprofen because she has been crying on and off in, what seems, a great deal of pain. Usually, we don’t give pain/fever reducers, but her pain has seemed excruciating. I feel so unsure and guilty right now…going back and forth whether to call her doctor and have him prescribe antibiotics. She is in very bad pain and will not allow me to rub behind the ear anymore. The Naturopathic doctor says to keep administering the homeopathics, but it is very difficult to see her in such pain anymore. The weird thing is that she doesn’t have a fever anymore, but the wax has made it very difficult for her to hear. Any suggestions beyond what we’re doing? I wish I could figure out a way to get the wax out that wasn’t painful for her.

    • Poor thing! I’m so sorry she’s having such a difficult time. Did the naturopathic doc say anything about removing the impacted wax?

      I’m not allowed to “give medical advice” but I can tell you what we did in your situation. My eldest had one ear completely sealed by compacted wax. She seemed to have trouble hearing and I asked her doctors to check her ears at the age of two and again at three. They said wax was normal and leave it alone. At the age of four, she had some speech delays from not being able to hear and when she pulled on her ear lobe, I could actually hear the wax seal breaking. I bought an ear scope and took a look, seeing that her ear drum was completely covered.

      After much research, I decided to follow these steps. (I’d recommend seeing an ear specialist, if you can, though it wasn’t an option for us).
      1. For the first night, I dripped about 1/2 teaspoon of warm olive oil (tested on my wrist) into her ear and read her a story while it softened the wax. Then, I massaged gently around her ear and pulled her ear lobe gently. The wax was softened, but didn’t come out when I tipped her head to let the oil drain.
      2. The next morning, I used a dropper with warm salt water and repeatedly dripped the salt water into her ear and then tipped her head to drain it. A few little pieces of wax came out.
      3. That afternoon, I went ahead and used peroxide (lots of people love using it for cleaning out excess wax, but it can be scary for little ones because of the fizzing. That really started to break up some of the wax. After about 10 applications (I waited for the fizzing to stop before draining the ear, each time) there was actually an open spot in the wall of wax. It was only about 10% open, but it was improvement.
      4. That night, I repeated the warm olive oil to soften the wax, then did the peroxide again about a dozen times. That got about 1/3 of the wax out, but the rest was rock-hard and didn’t come out.
      5. The next day, I repeated the warm salt water several times, then the peroxide. It removed a bit more, but even after doing this several times a day, about half her ear still had the rock-hard wax.
      6. We finally decided that we needed to pull out the rest of the wax, rather than trying to rinse it out. If my daughter wasn’t so good about being very, very still, I would have taken her to a doctor for this part. After softening the wax as much as we could with warm oil, my husband made sure her head didn’t move while I used the curved size of a bobby pin to scoop out the wax. It was very, very hard and I could only remove small pieces at a time, then I’d have to use more oil for softening. We finally got it all out and she was amazed by how well she could hear, even with the oil in her ear. :-) If you decide to try to remove the wax yourself (though I do suggest a doctor do it, in most cases), it is extremely important that the bobby pin not get anywhere close to the ear drum. It could be punctured. Also, the wax needs to be softened as much as possible, because it could be stuck to the ear drum itself, which could be painful when pulled loose.

      I hope that helps, Anita!

  • [...] often post about what to do when you’re already feeling badly, such as natural remedies for ear infections or ways to ease morning sickness, but today I’d like to talk about a yummy way to boost [...]

  • [...] Natural Remedies for Ear Infections by Creative Christian Mama [...]

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  • Whitney Marhshall

    Justyn, My son is 13 months old, and he seems to have gotten several ear infections already. My husband and I, have just recently his last ear infection stopped using any type of Antibiotic because of our Christian beliefs. I am a new Mommy, so when he gets a higher fever I get really freaked out. It’s been about a few weeks since he had his ear infection. The fever broke within a few days and I thought it was gone. But I noticed him pull his ears earlier, and he has a fever now at 101.1 … I am very interested in trying this home remedy, as I have been reading up on a few and wasn’t sure what to do. I am wondering if what type of ear infection does this not cure? If I take him to the ER tonight, will they tell me which type of ear infection he has? Or should I just start this herbal stuff? I already gave him Motrin, because I didn’t think that was bad. So I already messed that up with trying to “break” his fever, because fevers scare me especially with my son being so young.
    Thanks in advance for your help
    Whitney Marshall

    • Hi Whitney,

      I’m so sorry your little guy is sick! My eldest has croup for the first time, which is why I’m just now seeing your question.

      No, they can’t tell you whether it’s a viral or bacterial infection just by looking. The oil is effective against both viral and bacterial, but I’d recommend finding a good naturopathic doctor to check him out. He shouldn’t be getting so many ear infections. It could be related to something that he’s eating (is he on formula or pasteurized milk? is he eating grains? is he eating any processed foods?) or if you’re breastfeeding, something in your diet could be causing it. Finding the cause and avoiding it will help the most, though having a doctor who supports natural and non-toxic remedies would be fantastic!

      In your situation, I would be using the natural remedies, since they are so gentle. I know fevers can be so scary, but God created our bodies to use them to fight off illness. The big thing is to make sure to keep hydrated during fevers.

      I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. I hope he’s feeling better and that you’re able to get to the root cause.

      Blessings,
      Justyn

  • Whitney Marhshall

    Also do I put the Lavender, Oregano, Eucalyptus, and Tea tree oil on the inner ear or behind the ear on the outside???
    Whitney Marshall

    • With my little girl, I did add a little bit of these to the oil that I put in her ear, but if she had been only 13 months, I probably would have just applied it outside. I would want to be able to see that there wasn’t any kind of allergic reaction (redness, etc.) to the essential oils before adding them to the ear drops.

  • Alyssa

    Thanks so much for this invaluable information!

    My son is 5 months old and has a cold for a week or so, and a few days ago I noticed clear-ish liquid coming out of his left ear. I’m sure the eardrum is perforated because he had woken in the night suddenly, screaming, and my husband and I were totally baffled because he normally doesn’t cry. Poor thing!

    My question is how long should we expect the pus to drain out? We are keeping the ear warm, and keeping him elevated as much as possible, I guess I’m wondering how long we wait/what is the next step if the ear isn’t improving? Or how to even recognize if it is improving?

    • Poor little guy! At that age, when he’s too young to tell you anything, I’d strongly suggest finding a naturally-minded doctor to take him to. I’d start the visit by saying something like, “We are wanting to avoid antibiotics and other prescriptions, if at all possible.” I know that it may be impossible to find somebody new who will see you, right away, though. You can always take him to his regular doc and say the same thing. Just because drugs are prescribed, doesn’t mean you have to use them, if you decide not to. The doctor can still look in his ear and make sure that things are healing up properly.

      I found that I was able to buy an otoscope (the tools that doctors use to look in ears) and I could see that the redness and inflammation had gone down and my daughter was healing. Mine was from Walmart and it had photos with explanations, to make it easy to know what I was looking at. :-) You might want to get an otoscope and take it to the doctor with you. You can ask him/her to show you how to safely use it and how to monitor your baby’s ear until it’s healed.

      Although it’s extremely rare, there are supposedly cases of infections being dangerous with a perforated ear drum, so that’s the route I’d recommend. Just remember that all prescriptions are optional and you can just smile and say thank you if the doc insists you take one. :-)

    • Oh, and as far as how long before the perforation heals on it’s own, it seems to really be a wide range. In my case, it seemed to heal in less than a week. I’ve heard of other people that took several weeks to heal and be able to hear clearly, again.

  • Kim

    Hi! Do you know anything that drains the fluid in the ear?my son’s had tubes 2xs and the fluid is back. :( we really don’t want to have to do this again. Any help would be appreciated!! TIA! Blessings!!<

    • Hi Kim,

      I’d guess that it’s being triggered by something. Probably a food sensitivity or allergy. Pasteurized dairy is a big one (we drink only raw milk), food additives (artificial colors, flavors, preservatives), grains, etc. I would suggest finding a good naturally-minded doctor (open to herbs and natural remedies), if at all possible. The first thing I’d do is cut out all food additives and pasteurized dairy. That may well be all that you need to do. If you can’t get raw dairy, you can just limit dairy to anything that’s been cultured (organic yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, etc.). I’d also cut way back on sugar, to see if there might be a candida issue.

      I’m sorry it’s not a really easy natural ear drop recipe, but the problem isn’t really his ears. The fluid in his ears is just a symptom of something else that is wrong. If you can figure out what it is, then his ears will clear up. :-) A naturopathic doctor might be really helpful in figuring out the cause, if you can find one.

      Blessings!
      Justyn

  • Kim

    Thanks so much!!! He loves milk :( Will definitely try these things and search for a natural doctor. His ears fill a lot when he is sick and his hearing is really effected. Thanks for responding!! :)

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  • Years ago I had a friend of mine tell me of a old time doctor who had taught her a old remedy of mixing 50% liquid glycerin with 50% pure grain alcohol and warm and drop into the ear canal several times daily when her daughter had a ear ache or when she had been swimming. The only problem is you cannot find liquid glycerin anymore in our area. Wonder what would be a good substitute?

    • Interesting! I hadn’t heard that remedy, before. Honestly, glycerin has such unique properties that I’m not sure if anything could be safely substituted, but you can order it online! :-) Thanks, Leah!

  • Bev

    Pets may be out of your realm of expertise, but I just read your site and feel much better about putting coconut oil into our little dog’s ears. we’ve had him (a rescue) since June and he has been on medication the entire time. Still had black foul drainage a week ago when I first heard about using coconut oil. After a day or 2 there was no more drainage and he came right to me for ear treatment. Since I am a novice at this homeopathic “stuff” I continued to put the oil into his ears. Now he shakes his head a lot and there is some extra pinkness in his ears. I think I should irrigate them with something, but am not sure what. If you have an idea, I would be grateful to try it. Thank you and God bless you for being such a blessing to so many. Bev & Toby

    • I wish I had some ideas for you, but I am thinking that the coconut oil is the best idea for him. It’s non-toxic and gentle, but it may be something you’ll need to do for quite awhile to make sure he’s fully recovered. I honestly have no experience with ear infections in dogs, so maybe somebody else has a better idea. ;-) I’ll ask on my Facebook page and see what the dog owners have to say.

  • Sarah

    My son is only 4 months old. He has a cold; runny /congested nose, fever, nasty cough and when I took him to pedi she said “his ear is red” and gave me a script. I am trying not to treat w antibiotics but wonder how long I should treat homeo style. He has had all these symptoms for 5 days now. His fever was102-103 first couple days, yesterday and today it’s been between 99.0-101. Using the drops 3x/day he has only had 8 drops, 2+days. If he’s still sick on Monday I will take him to homeopathic doc but should I be concerned today? My biggest fear is I’m putting stuff in a ear that has ruptured. Any ideas would be so helpful. I have not given him fever reducers this whole time. Mama love seems to keep him comfy.

    • Poor little guy! I’m sorry I didn’t see your comment until just now, but I’m hoping he is feeling better. I’m guessing he’s either well or you’re with the doc, now. I’d suggest buying an otoscope (they are in the walmart pharmacy section) and asking the doc to teach you how to tell if the ear drum has been ruptured. Then, you’ll be able to tell on your own next time. It sounds from your description like ear inflammation is probably just one of the cold symptoms, but it could certainly become a bacterial infection. It sounds like you’re doing all the right things, though!

      • Sarah

        He’s doing well. He has a nasty cough that the cold left behind. Do you have any homeo tricks for helping clear out the mucous that seems to have settled in his chest? I’ve been doing the steam showers and such. Thanks for your garlic/mullein recipe, I think it helped.

        • We use this herbal sinus steam, but for such a young baby, I’d leave out the peppermint. You wouldn’t want to put the towel over his head, but here’s the method I used when our youngest was around that age:
          Put the herbs in a large heat-proof bowl in the bathroom. While the water comes to a boil for the bowl, start the shower to get the bathroom steamy. Pour the boiling water over the herbs and just keep the baby near the bowl, but not close enough to touch it. The combined steam from the shower and the herbal steam from the bowl made a big difference for our baby.

          So glad his ears are better! Oh, when our baby had a cold around that age, I did diffuse a little bit of eucalyptus essential oil in the bedroom at night and during naps. I also had her sleeping in a rocker that kept her propped up a bit better than the crib.

  • Robley Martz

    Thank you. I am a Disaster Preparedness rep for my Church. Your information is a great help. Can I use it in my newsletters??

  • Ashley

    My son is 6 and has had more than 20 ear infections starting when he was 6 months. He’s had multiple tubes and currently has them. I would love to not have him on antibiotics anymore as he’s been on them so many times. Are the options that go in the ear safe if a child has tubes. I’m so desperate to help him naturally. Love this post and I’m excited to explore your site more! Thank you!!!!

  • Samantha

    If you don’t own a heating pad, a water bottle warmed up in the microwave for 1-1 and a half minutes works great as well! Really helps with the pain!(:

  • Pat

    After making the garlic and oil mixture, how long can it be stored. In the past I’ve used juices from an onion but would like to try this in the future. Thank you so much for all the information you post.

  • Visnu Ishaya

    I love your advice on everything thank you so much,

    I am wondering about the solid state of coconut oil. Is the body warm enough to keep the oil in a liquid state after applying it? I have thought that sweet (almond) oil was the best thing for ear infections.

  • jenna

    Hello, I have been doing garlic in olive oil going on 2 days for my 12 month old. She has had 2 back to back ear infections and was put on antibiotics both times. Now its coming back for its 3rd time. I do not want to have to put her on antibiotics again and definitely do not want her to undergo the surgery to insert tubes to drain fluid. It has been in both her ears all 3 times…now im going to step it up by applying the oil to her feet and the onion to her ears but how long should I try these before taking her to doctor… and if they recommend antibiotics or surgery should I do it? I hate the unnatural options but do not want her to suffer or end up with permanent damage, if possible.

    • So sorry your little one is sick! I’d suggest looking for a naturally-minded doctor to take her to (a naturopathic physician or even just a “normal” doctor who is open to natural methods). It sounds like there is something triggering them, such as a food sensitivity. If you nurse, it could be grains or dairy that you are eating. If she is formula fed, there’s a whole ton of ingredients in store-bought formula that babies can’t digest. I’d try an elimination diet if you are nursing or a homemade formula if she is on formula (the Weston A. Price foundation has some great recipes!).

      To help right away, it sounds like you are doing great! If you’re nursing, cut out all sugar and eat as much raw garlic as you can stand. Drink echinacea tea (or take tincture or capsules) and nurse often. You might cut out grains and any dairy that isn’t cultured or raw.

    • Diane

      It could be candida overgrowth from the previous antibiotic treatments. Antibiotics cause candida overgrowth. Candida overgrowth makes one more susceptible to ear infections and then they are given MORE antibiotics. It’s a vicious cycle. There are baby and children’s probiotics on the market. I would look into that. Praying for a natural remedy for you child. In the name of Jesus!

  • Mallory

    Thank you so much for your info!
    My 6 month old has had 2 back to back ear infections and I’m pretty sure he is getting another one. He was treated with antibiotics for the first two. I called the local health food store and they only have the liguid garlic cap. Would this work the same as the ess. oil if I opened them up and put them in his ear. I also thought I would get the lavender ess. oil and tea tree oil. Do you have any other advice? Thanks!

  • jenna

    Thank you Justyn. I appreciate your help. I am currently staying with my mother who thinks im evil for not taking her immediately back to the ped to get more antibiotics and also because im in no hurry to give her tylenol when fussy. Its nice to get encouragement from someone who has been through this. We are taking her to ped today just to get them to look and tell us how severe it is now. Ive read that persistent ear infection can cause permanent hearing loss in yound chikdren, so of course im just freaking out. But we are going to continue the treatment for at least another week. Oh and she is drinking whole milk. And eats fruits and veggies mostly. Not much grains, come to think of it, she seemed to have started this very shortly after switching to milk. I would love to try raw milk, but I am a little skeptical about possibility of bad bacteria, do you have any suggestiins to find a good place to buy from?

  • Carla C

    Hi
    Thank you for the detailed information. I had read about using garlic oil but the directions were not as thorough and made no mention of straining. You mention this and that it is crucial not to get garlic in the ear. What happens if garlic gets in the ear? I don’t think it has (at least I never noticed pieces in the dropper) but my previous garlic ear oil was not strained. Also how long can this oil be stored?
    Thanks

  • Joy

    Thank you! 4 allowing pep like me whose first and desired choices of God’s natural ways of living and healing, to search from my cell phone into the internet web and find wonderful sites as yours, again thank you , now I will (with prayer smile) go and prepare what ive learned to remove my ear troubling pain smile, I believe us who are not doctors have more commonsense and reality than those Dr,s who spent so much X and $ being told the claims of inperfect humans.

  • yehudit

    I would like to get new posts by my email

  • Diane

    How do I know if I have an actual ear infection? I got water in my ear when swimming and then had pain for two days. The sharp pain has lessened but I still feel slight pain. I do feel like water is in my ear but no puss or anything coming out. I wonder if this treatment would be good or if putting more liquid into my ear will make it worse. Not sure what to do.

  • Elizabeth

    Please tell me what kills parasites/mites in the ear. I have been to three different doctors, one of whom is an ear doctor and wasn’t helped!! I can’t sleep because of the movement of this organism in my ear!!! I’m in New York City! thanks for your help!!!

    • Not fun!! I think I would try infusing coconut oil with olive leaf and goldenseal, strain it and use a couple of drops every night. In that situation, I’d probably add some tea tree oil for the first week. Maybe 2 drops tea tree oil per tablespoon of coconut oil. That’s my best guess and where I would start in that situation. I hope it helps!!

  • Thank for reminding me when my grandma and mother use to use theses remedies on me when I was a child I had
    A lot of ear infinfections growing up. And now my daughter is getting them. This was God sent ;-)

  • Chantel Santos

    Thank you so much for this informative post!! I have a question: can the leftover homemade garlic oil sit out for a few days or does it need to be refrigerated? Thanks so much for your help!

    • Chantel Santos

      I should add that I didn’t have any Mullein so I just made a garlic, coconut oil mix with a couple drops of Lavender. Thanks again!!

    • You’re so welcome! I have read many warnings that garlic in oil can grow dangerous things, so I made mine fresh each day and kept it in the fridge until it was time to use it. Then I very gently warmed just a bit of it. :-)

  • Thanyou. This is the best advise I have seen.i have tinnitus and vertigo and the Dr, has told me I have an infection. Antibiotic,penicylin,antihystomens and garlic oil have not cleard it. Now that I have read your article I can see some much better approach,s to this. Thankyou. Tony Searles

  • Trina

    Hi Justyn,
    I wanted to know if you could help me; A about 3 weeks ago I woke up to my ear hurting and was a bit concerned…then it never happened again, and I thought; “oh, I just slept on my ear wrong.” Well, recently I have had more ear pain and it has woke me up occasionally. I have NO fever, headaches whatsoever and have been trying to treat my ear with garlic oil/water. It has seem to help some but maybe I’m not doing it consistently enough..How often should I do this, and should I use oregano? I really would love to know and really don’t want to go to the doctor, please help teen! :) Thanks!

    • I’m so sorry it’s hurting! I get that sometimes when I’ve slept wrong and my jaw is actually pressing on something. I’d suggest getting an ear scope from the store and asking someone to see if you have any sign of infection. It’s pretty easy to tell with one of those. If there’s no sign of infection, it may be something like my jaw problem. It can hurt for days in my ear, even though my jaw seems to feel fine. It makes me think you may have a similar problem since there’s no fever. If that’s the case, I’ve found our pain-relief salve and a warm wash cloth helps me a lot.

  • Great post! Been reading a lot about avoiding and treating ear infections. Thanks for the info here!

  • Joni

    Your article is extremely helpful! I’ve treated my daughters ear infections with garlic/mullein oil previously and her ears got better within a few days. Today I actually took her to see her pedi because we weren’t sure if she had swimmers ear or an infection. Low and behold, it’s an infection and the doc recommended antibiotics. I told her that we’ve treated with garlic oil in the past and she was fine. The pedi says since there is pus, “antibiotics are a must…. and that garlic oil is only good as a preventative measure when there is a fluid build up”. Is this true? I never knew if there was pus before but now and I do and of course it makes me question if I should continue with the garlic oil. Your thoughts are appreciated!

    • Hi Joni,

      I’m so glad it’s been helpful for you! The doctor is right about not using the oil inside the ear if their is pus. That shows that the ear drum has perforated (torn) and you don’t want to get the oil past the ear drum. You can still rub the oil behind and under the ear, just not inside it. Typically ear infections clear pretty quickly once the ear drum ruptures, but antibiotics are an option. For myself, I don’t use them unless absolutely necessary. I think that in that situation, I would use the warm onion held against the ear to draw out the infection. Maybe the doc would be willing to monitor her recovery while you try the garlic oil on the outside of the ear and the warm onion over the ear?

      I hope that helps!
      Blessings,
      Justyn

      • Joni

        Sorry i wasn’t clear. There is no tear. She said there’s pus behind the ear drum. No perforation as of now nor leaking. Thanks so much for your response!!

        • I see! In that case, I would be using the garlic/mullein oil for our family. It (along with the essential oil blend around the back of the ear) healed my daughter’s ear infection and I’ve known many people who have had the same experience. I think that pretty much any ear infection would involve some level of pus behind the ear drum, since that’s the body’s natural response to an infection. :-)

          I hope she’s well, by now!

          • Joni

            Yes, she’s all better! As a person who reads alot of the comments I always like to read the “what happened” part. So here’s mine…after having a raging double ear infection and declining antibiotics, we did the garlic/mullien oil drops twice a day, a few onions to the ears, the essential oil blend behind the ear several times a day and by day 6 she said her ears felt “excellent”. Also bought an otoscope to be sure they look good. Thanks again for your replies!

          • I’m so glad to hear that!!! Thanks for popping back in for an update. :-)

  • Beth

    Thank you for posting! I am going to be trying this for myself. I am working on my second ear infection in about 3 weeks! Last time I went to the doctor since it was three days and no love with the eos, then I remembered my cousin telling me to try acupuncture! Yikes, I hate needles! So after 5 days, I went and got it done. It worked wonders, the pain and swelling was gone with in an hour! When I say swelling, the whole side of my head was swollen and my ear was so swollen they couldn’t get the baby tip in to check! I know that you probably don’t want to acupuncture a baby or child but try an adjustment also!

  • Melissa

    What about treating the nasal canal with this remedy? If it works for the ear, what about the throat and nose? I may have the ear infection, but it could be from my sinuses from allergies. Also, I have a perforated ear drum and every time I take a shower even with ear plugs my ears get tinnitus afterward and it take days for it to clear up. I have to wash my hair! I’ve noticed a white spot on the back of my throat that has gotten larger since living in this apartment that has too much moisture and molded my belonging. I cleaned everything with tee-tree oil and threw out anything that was not important to salvage. I also have had a dog 1.5, but the tinnitus started after living here. It seems to spike in the fall or with more pain associated with it. I do not have the option to move.

    • I am so sorry you are in that situation, Melissa! Mold can be very, very dangerous and obviously the best option would be to move. Tinnitus is often a symptom of toxic mold as well, so that might be contributing to the problem. I have to very strongly encourage you to call the health department for your city or county. They need to know about the dangers and they will see that it is taken care of so that everybody living there is safe. You and the other people could suffer from life-threatening complications (pneumonia, systemic infections, etc.) if it is left alone.

      To restore your health, one thing that can help some is an ionic air purifier. We got the one from Sharper Image, which is expensive but was worth it for us (my hubby has allergy-induced asthma from some of the pollen around here).

      A dehumidifier is extremely important, because mold will keep growing with all that moisture in the air. We got one from Lowes for about $160 and it’s been fantastic for keeping our dirt floor basement dry!

      As far as herbs and natural remedies…

      I would suggest diffusing some essential oils into the air (to kill airborne mold and for you to breathe). You can buy a diffuser ($10-$15) at a local health food store or from Amazon.com (I have four of these so that every area of my house is covered!). For mold, I would diffuse tea tree oil, lavender, lemongrass and/or patchouli. They are all antifungal and should help.

      Take that same bunch of essential oils and add them to a natural cleaner (I make mine using this recipe- just add the extra essential oils).

      You can also mix up those essential oils and put 10 to 20 drops in the bottom of your shower every time you shower. That will disperse them really well in the bathroom, but the best part is you’ll be breathing the oils to help your sinuses and respiratory tract.

      I would take a mixture of organic raw honey and organic raw apple cider vinegar several times a day. That combination is fantastic for fighting fungus in the body. Raw garlic is great, too and you can take it like this.

      Those things can all help, but you really need to report the toxic mold to the health department. Don’t let them ignore you. Tell them you have had mold growing on your belongings and you are suffering from symptoms of *toxic* mold exposure and are unable to move. Ask them to please come test for toxic molds.

      Please let me know how it goes and if I can do anything to help you!
      Blessings,
      Justyn

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