Last May, my son was 18-months-old and had had his third ear infection since January.
“He’s going to need tubes as soon as he’s old enough for the surgery,” the doctor told me, writing up yet another prescription for antibiotics. I took the piece of paper, dumbfounded. Tubes? Surgery?
“There has to be another way,” I told my husband that night.
So I did research. A lot. I first discovered that in my parents’ and grandparents’ days, warm oil was often put in a sore ear. They called it “sweet oil” and it dissolved earwax in addition to relieving discomfort. I went to health food stores and looked at what they sold for earaches and ear infections, reading ingredients but not buying. I couldn’t justify paying $10-15 for one or two ounces of olive oil with other herbs.
Making My Own Sweet Oil
I decided to make my own natural remedy for ear infections. In addition to olive oil, most of the over-the-counter concoctions had garlic, a natural antibiotic. Many health experts claimed it did as much for infections as prescriptions without side effects. So I created my initial homemade oil by simmering olive oil with a crushed clove of garlic in it. Then I allowed the mixture to completely cool before straining out the garlic. I tested the resulting mixture on my own ear before I tried it on my son. It felt warm and soothing.
We used the garlic and olive oil combination for a while. It did seem to speed the healing process, but it didn’t do as much when a lot of pain was involved. I wanted something to numb the ear while the garlic did its work to heal and the oil soothed the irritations. I found that in the herb mullein.
Mullein oil has been used for centuries primarily for ear infections and many of the prepared oils had it in them. You can order mullein herb online and add it directly to the olive oil.
Natural Remedies for Ear Infections
The new combination of olive oil, garlic, and mullein worked quickly and effectively. It relieved immediate pain and began to resolve the infection. (I kept an otoscope on hand to check between doses and was amazed at how well it worked.)
Doctors now say that many ear infections will heal on their own. I did check with our pediatrician and was told nothing in the oil would hurt, but her opinion was that I would still need the antibiotics. I kept close tabs on any ear infections anyone in the family had. Sometimes, we did end up having to go in and request the prescription if the infection persisted. But more often, the ear would heal without the medicine.
With the herbal oil administered warm or at room temperature three to five times a day, I had an extra assurance that I was doing something that would make my son feel better for the short term and the hope that it would give his body the tools it needed to overcome infections without surgery.
It did. While I know of friends who used similar preparations and still had to have surgery for their child, my son didn’t.
His ears became strong and resilient and he eventually outgrew the frequent infections. To the amazement of his doctors, the persistent infections resolve on their own, and he never had surgery. He recently turned nineteen.
To this day, we keep a bottle of homemade ear oil on hand. And we all use it if our ears hurt. It’s inexpensive insurance.
Sweet Oil Recipe for Ear Infections
- 1/4 c olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, mashed
- 1 tsp. or 1 teabag mullein
Directions: In a small saucepan, heat the oil with the garlic and mullein. Make sure the mixture gets very hot but does not boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. When cool to the touch, strain the herbs out of the oil (using cheesecloth, for example), draining the clear oil into a small glass container with a lid.
How to Use Sweet Oil
When suffering ear pain, use an eyedropper to administer three to five drops per ear. Then hold in place with a cotton ball. You can warm the oil by putting the bottle into a cup of hot water or administer the oil at room temperature. If you warm the oil, test it on a wrist to make sure it hasn’t become too hot. Put oil in the affected ear(s) three to five times per day while pain persists. Do not use if there is a chance of a ruptured eardrum. Mixture keeps at room temperature for up to a year.
This natural remedy for ear infections worked wonders on my son! Try it out and see if it can provide your family with relief.
For more home remedies that can help with allergies or congestion, view this post.
Susan A. J. Lyttek, author of the Talbott family mysteries by Harbourlight Books, and the middle-grade comedy Guzzy Goofballand the Homeschool Play from Outer Space (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) writes near our nation’s capitol. She enjoys teaching the next generation of writers through WriteAtHome.com. Find out more about her upcoming books and other projects at sajlyttek.com.