Herbs and Home Remedies to relieve Earache and Inner Ear Fluid (Otitis media)

If you have earache you should book an appointment with your doctor to have your ear examined. This will rule out any serious infections or illness. Untreated ear infections can damage your ear drum or affect your hearing. In the meantime, the following home remedies may help to relieve the pressure and the pain - especially if you ears have decided to play up at a weekend or in the evening.

HEAT

Soak a flannel in hot water, and place over the ear to allow the heat to soften wax and take the edge off the pain. Keep the ear tilted downwards while you do this. Repeat as often as needed. Alternatively a hot water bottle placed on a dampened cloth near the affected ear may also help to draw fluid. Taking a hot shower, sitting in a sauna or a steam room can also help. Allow the steam to build up in the shower and take your time showering.

STEAM

If heat seemed to help a bit, but you feel it is not quite getting there, a home steam treatment can help to open the Eustachian tube where fluid typically accumulates. Pour boiling water into a large glass or ceramic bowl and add 2 to 3 drops each of eucalyptus oil, lavender oil or chamomile oil.  Cover your head with a towel, and hold your ear over the steam bath, breathing in the steam. Don’t stay under the towel for longer than 10 or 15 minutes. Do not use too much oil or make the water too hot. If you start to feel lightheaded, drink a glass of water and keep sitting down until you feel steady again. 

If you don't have any essential oils to hand, add a sprig of thyme, sage, oregano or lavender - woody herbs that naturally contain high levels of antiseptic essential oils.

CHEW

Take up chewing gum. Chew on food, gum, yawn or just make chewing or swallowing movements. This can help the inner ear tube to open as the Eustachian tubes attached to your ear canal are made to stretch and can release the fluid. Tilt your affected ear down while you chew to use gravity to assist in the draining of any fluid. You can also try pinching your nose as you make these chewing and yawning motions.

EAR DROPS

You can make your own ear drops at home. If there is wax in your ear place a teaspoon in a mug of just boiled water for a few minutes. Then put a few drops of olive oil onto the teaspoon to warm. Ensure it is not too hot then gently tip into your ear. Gently pull the outer edge of your ear to encourage the oil to go into your ear canal. Wait a few minutes then gently plug with cotton will and tilt your head downwards. This may melt and release any ear wax that is stopping fluid from driving out.

Herbal oils such as Mullein, St. John’s Wort and Garlic oil can help considerably and will also help to fight the infection. Here is a step by step recipe. Plantain tincture taken internally also helps to relieve sinus and ear infections as does elderflower. Tinctures of echinacea and pelargonium will help to support the immune system in fighting infection.

If there is no wax, or if fluid has come out, mix 1 part rubbing alcohol and 1 part white vinegar and drip 3 to 4 drops into the affected ear, ideally from a sterilised dropper. This mixture will help to dry out your ear and reduce infection or bacteria.

NASAL FLUSH

In some cases a simple nasal irrigation tool called a neti pot can help with sinus congestion as the ears are connected to your nose. It helps to relieve fluid pressure by thinning any infected mucus and flushing it out of the nasal passage. Follow the directions that come with your neti pot and only use sterilised saline solution.

© Napiers Herbals Ltd 2014 • Edinburgh and Glasgow • Herbalists and Medical Botanists since 1860
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