One of the best parts of about being a herbalist is being able to help my family when they are in need. Ear aches and infections are extremely common in families with children. As I child I remember getting the “banana medicine” (antibiotics) often due to my frequent ear infections. This years first bad cold virus in Southern Ontario has a nasty ear infection that accompanies it. The modern medical method of treating this common ailment is an oral antibiotic and perhaps an ear drop as well. Unfortunately antibiotics have side effects that can leave your immune system compromised for the next wave of nasties that might be floating around during the cold/flu season. Not to mention the common side effect of diarrhea and upset stomach for some people.
If you catch your ear infection early enough, this homemade DIY garlic mullein ear oil will help heal it naturally. It is important to follow up with a medical practitioner if you believe you have a severe ear infection on your hands. My husbands ear infection was so severe that it ruptured his ear drum!
Please keep in mind the need for compliance whenever you are using natural remedies. They only work if you can get them into your child. The protocol for this remedy is frequent and relies on the child laying on their side for a period of at least 10 minutes. If you don’t believe your child will do this, getting enough doses in to treat the infection might be difficult. If this is the case, look at using an oral antiviral/antibacterial natural remedy like elderberry syrup in conjunction with pain relieving medications if you choose.
Let’s talk about the herbs in this remedy:
Garlic – Allium sativum
Garlic first and foremost is a potent antimicrobial, helping to fight bacteria, fungus and virus based infections. It also has local anti-inflammatory properties and this will help to reduce the inflammation and redness in the area in comes in contact with. Allium is also a herbal vulnerary which basically means it helps to heal wounds, abrasions etc.
Garlic (used in an ear oil) has no toxic side effects and can be used for everyone. The only side effect is that you will smell like garlic, even if you are using it in your ear. If you are nursing this may change the flavour of your milk. Some babies have a problem with this, others do not. If you notice your child is nursing less frequently you might want to cut out the garlic.
Mullein Leaves/Flowers – Verbascum thapsus
Mullein is one of the most common topical herbs used by herbalists. This is, in no small part, due to its amazing ability to reduce inflammation and heal the tissues it comes in contact with. Verbascum in oil form will also help to soften earwax and promote circulation to the area. Some of the herbal books described Mullein as an anodyne which means it helps to reduce pain as well. While I have found this to be the case, I should mention that not all of my herbal sources (including my class notes) list this as one of the medicinal properties.
Garlic Mullein Ear Oil Recipe
- 1 garlic bulb
- 28 grams of mullein leaf/flower
- 500 ml of olive oil
- Combine crushed garlic cloves, mullein herb and olive oil into a pot
- Simmer on low for at least one hour (up to two hours)
- Don’t be tempted to use higher heat to speed up the process. This will only cause your oil to go rancid.
- Strain your herbs and allow them to cool
- Garlic mullein ear oil can be stored in your fridge for up to two years
Administering the Oil
- The oil should be at room temperature when put into the ear.
- The remedy/dose can be easily warmed by placing it in a warm glass of water.
- Do not microwave it!
- Ensure that the oil is not too hot before placing in the ear.
- Have your child lie on their side and place 3-5 drops into the affected ear. Have them stay in this position for at least 5-10 minutes
- If they are compliant it might be prudent to treat the unaffected ear as infections can easily spread to the second ear.
- Repeat 2-3 times a day depending on the severity of the infection.
Combining this healing remedy with the amazing healing power of elderberries is a great idea as well. Check out my blog post about the Elderflower herb here.