The Dreaded Ear Infection?!

Nooooooooo!  Oh Yes!  Greetings, Sister Tribe!  It’s time to get real, down to Earth, and face the music… or rather… the incessant screaming and crying of little ones with an ear ache.

Fear not!  Our Super Friends, Garlic and Onion, are here to save the day (and our sleepless nights)! 

How in the world did humans ever survive ear infections, for literally thousands of years, before antibiotics were invented in 1935?!  How?!  Well, first off, let’s notice that 1935 was not even 100 years ago, let alone thousands… so if we all just take a moment to breathe and put our Wisdom Caps on… er… uh… aahhh… that feels better.  Now.  Let’s get into this awesome Earth of natural, effective, solutions for a common ailment like an ear infection.  For our purposes here, we will only discuss an ear infection that is NOT accompanied with fever or many other symptoms; just the ear ache.  We’ll cover some causes, first, but then we will explore how tremendously blessed and dependent we actually are on our planet for our health and survival. We’ll see that Earth provides many solutions to the same problem without causing what’s now known as “antibiotic resistance” and “superbugs.”  Thank you, Mother Earth!

 [And, while I’m at it, I’d like to thank the archeologists who discovered a Neanderthal man (from 60,000 years ago) in a cave in Iraq who was buried with herbs that are still used medicinally today… yes, thank you!]

 So, Sweet Sisters, what causes the dreaded ear infection? 

 1) Bacteria and viruses from colds and flus: READ HERE

Ear infections could also be brought on by

2) a blow to the side of the head, or

3) structural abnormalities (or the angle in which we hold the baby while nursing or bottle-feeding), but usually, it’s those pesky pathogens!  And let’s not forget…

4) Diet!

I could, and probably will, write an entire blog series on prevention of colds and flus and how to knock ‘em dead naturally, with our special flair of Mom-Warrior gusto 😉

This is awesome, ancient, ancestral plant wisdom we’re workin with here, Sisters… I don’t know about all of you, but when I use herbal remedies, I feel so loved and connected to my indigenous roots from thousands of years ago.  I feel like I have the power to prevail.  I feel self-empowered and self-reliant in that I don’t need expensive (and possibly dangerous) drugs to take care of myself and my family, but I have the knowledge and power to look down at the Earth, or up in the trees, to find my solutions!  [All for free if I grow it myself!  Or for very little cost to me and the planet if I shop in the organic produce section].  That feels SO good!  Living Herbalism stirs up deep gratitude for the bountiful miraculous gifts of healing and life.

Now… onto anti-life.  I mean, antibiotics Who among my sisters has watched the documentary: “Resistance”?  Wow!  I love it and I hate it!  I love that it proves how dangerous antibiotics really are, through scientific studies performed throughout the decades.  But it really pushes my buttons when the solutions these particular doctors are looking for are still not natural… they still have not learned the truth about herbs and natural health solutions.  Still!  In the year 2017!  Ok, ok… here’s the link.  Go watch it.  Well, wait until you read this, then go watch it 😉  Resistance Documentary 

Now… back to life-giving solutions… there are more than 30 known medicinal herbs used for ear infections and ear aches.  That list does not include essential oils, which I also know are natural effective solutions.  I have four children and one grand-toddler (age 17 months).  My children have all had ear infections at one time or another.  My grandson has not.  But it was The Dreaded Ear Infection, my first baby’s first ear infection, in fact, that I first learned about using herbal remedies (October 1997).  My dear friend gave me some Lobelia tincture she had on hand and told me how to use it instead of the prescription I was given by my baby’s doctor (that I never even purchased).  I used the Lobelia.  It worked quickly and effectively.  That, seemingly small moment in my history, completely changed the course of my life!  Thank you, Friend, you know who you are!

 I have since raised all my kids with only herbs and good food; no drugs whatsoever. Although I have officially studied with The School of Natural Healing and graduated back in 2004, my way of treating my children’s health issues has always been very simple and basic, nothing too elaborate.  I could list a trillion ways, or maybe a little less, to treat an ear infection, or a cold, or a fever, or a cough, etc… because I keep learning how other people do it all around the world.  I want to keep it simple, though, so you won’t be afraid to try it for yourselves.

 So, if you hear the familiar cries of wee babes tugging on their ears, first thing’s first:


No Dairy.  None.  Zero.  Zip.  Kaput.  Dairy causes ear infections, especially if they are allergic or sensitive to dairy.  Other allergens are also a possible causes to frequent ear infections.

A word on food allergies: My youngest son, now 15, has many food allergies.  I did NOT believe a friend when she told me my baby boy’s eczema (back when he was a toddler) could be caused by tomatoes.  “What?  Tomatoes are healthy!  Healthy foods don’t cause eczema!”  I thought I knew everything and didn’t believe her own experience with her own children.  Yikes!  I was in for a humbling moment… I later discovered that my son is allergic to not only tomatoes, but yeast, pineapples, gluten, eggplant, cantaloupe and cranberries!  All healthy foods!  But NOT if he is allergic! 

Allergies equal inflammation. 

Inflammation in the ears makes things swell and not drain properly while also vacuum-sucking up some germs… creating a petri dish in the ear for bacteria to grow and cause infection.  Yuck!  What’s also important to notice in our children is what I observed with my son: what did NOT show up in his allergy blood tests?  He is allergic to soy, corn, and dairy.  Anything created from cow’s milk made my son sick with croup.  Period.  The other food items gave him hives, swelling, itching, truly obvious signs of allergic reaction.

But the milk products were stealthy… most people would just think,

“Gosh, my kids sure get sick a lot.”  

Dairy is the most harmful, mucus-forming, constipating, congestion-making, cancer-causing food in the entire world. 

If you don’t believe me, I totally understand, but please read, The China Study.  Milk, The Deadly Poison.  An Herbal Legacy of Courage.  Watch some food documentaries like, Forks Over Knives.  Our cows deserve a better life, and so do we and our children.  

The following remedies are just a few ways I create a better life, used synergistically together.

Remedy #1: No dairy.

Remedy #2: No processed sugar.

Remedy #3: Take your pick: Garlic Oil, Lobelia tincture, an onion, mullein oil or poultice.  Chamomile fomentation and tea.  St. John’s Wort oil.  Dr. Christopher’s B&B tincture or his Super Garlic Immune formula… and twenty-plus-more effective options that I will not list today.

Remedy #4: Love, cuddles, rest, and maybe some Reiki.

You can either make your own ear oils, or buy them from a health food store, or go to

Here is how I make my own garlic oil:

  1.  I chop up, or push through a garlic press, many cloves of garlic to cover the bottom of a glass bowl (never plastic or metal).
  2.  I pour Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) over the top of the garlic until the oil covers the garlic by about ½ inch to 1 inch.
  3. I cover this garlic oil bowl with a paper towel or cheesecloth to keep the dust out as it sits and infuses for the 3 days.  Some people infuse the garlic oil for only 30 minutes to an hour.  I would start using it that fast if I had a sudden need for it, but I would still let it sit for the 3 days before I strain it.
  4. I strain the garlic from the oil and pour the oil into a dark glass bottle and I store it in a typically dark place like a cupboard or the pantry.
  5. I label my bottle so everyone knows NOT to use this garlic oil on their food!  I use garlic oil on the bottoms of feet and in the ears, so I really don’t want that in my food 😉

That’s it!  We just made garlic oil. 

To make Mullein Oil, St. John’s Wort Oil, or Lobelia Tincture would typically take 6 weeks, so unless we have those on hand, or run out to the store, garlic is going to be our cheapest and quickest remedy.  These herb-infused oils can be made in about an hour on the lowest heat of the stove, but it’s not as high-quality as cold-infused oils.

I use 2-6 drops of garlic oil, and/or lobelia tincture in each ear (If I combined these two to put in the ears at once instead of rotating turns, I would use a half and half ratio, ex: 2 drops garlic and two drops lobelia).  Sometimes I warmed it up in a spoon with a lighter, but it gets hot fast and we do NOT want to burn our babies!  Just warm, not hot!  If there is enough oil and a small pot, the oil can be warmed up on the stove. Also, running hot water over the bottle of oil, swirling regularly to spread the heat evenly is a great tactic.  Other times, though, I just used it at room temperature. Obviously, warm is more soothing and brings faster relief, but sometimes us mamas just gotta get too much done to stop and warm up the oil, am I right?! 

There are many ways to keep the oil in the ears, but I just pulled the cotton off a cotton swab and gently placed it in their ears so that I could pull them out later.  I always put drops in both ears because I did not want the infection to hop from one ear to the next.  To administer to the right ear, lie on the left side and use a dropper to place the drops in the right ear.  I never did, but some herbalists suggest lying on that side for 15 minutes before administering to the other side.  I found this process with these herbs worked to immediately reduce pain and suffering 😊 If it soothes, feel free to place a warm water bottle over the ears.  Very lightly massaging behind the ears and down the neck can help get the ears draining as well.

I would do the drops at least three times a day, for 2-3 days, more if needed (I would know by their complaints of pain), but it usually resolved quickly.  I also rubbed garlic oil on their bottoms of their feet, and if they were still really little, they got a full-body garlic oil rub-down… every hour on the hour!  I am diligent 😉

Dr. Christopher also suggests lightly baking an onion, cutting it in half, and while still warm (but not hot) bind one half the onion over each ear with a nightcap and leave it on all night.  He didn’t say this, but to perhaps avoid skin irritation, we could rub on some coconut or olive oil.

Garlic and onion are the most affordable natural remedies we can trust, and not just for ear infections, so it’s always good to have them on-hand all year long.  Garlic and onions are excellent at fighting pathogens and according to studies are more effective than antibiotics.  Lobelia is anti-inflammatory and reduces pain.  Mullein helps drainage.  St. John’s Wort is a known ally for wound healing and infection fighting. Like I said, the list is long and fabulous, but for twenty plus years, I have used garlic 99.9% of the time.

One of my absolute favorite herbalists, Rosalee de la Foret, writes:

“If you suspect your child will be skeptical about putting drops in their ear, try demonstrating it on their favorite doll… talk about how much better teddy feels now that the (herbal) medicine has gone to his ear.”

I would also like to add, that yes, sometimes ear drums do perforate.  My kids never had that happen, but an author I admire, Sandra K. Livingston Ellis, Master Herbalist has had this experience which can be read in Dr. Mom II; A Family Guide to Alternative Health Care.  Ear drums heal.  If it perforates, though, and blood or puss is draining, I would continue with the external herbal care, and drinking teas and syrups, but STOP putting anything directly in the ears.  The body knows how to fight infection and does an even better job when given the right tools to work with like garlic and onions. 

If the neck glands are swollen and prevent the ears from draining, a cloth diaper can be used to soak up an herbal infusion and wrapped around the neck, covered in plastic wrap and then another towel and hot bottle warmer.  I would use 3 parts Mullein and 1 part Lobelia.  Some herbalists just use the actual leaves of the herbs they choose to pack onto the glands for a poultice (I do this for my chest onion poultice).   

Herbal steams for alleviating congestion are also great.  Just a few drops on a wash cloth, placed in the bath or shower for the hot water to run over it and steam up the bathroom… we’ve got ourselves an essential oil steam room!  Children can just play in the bathroom with toys while they breathe in all that healing goodness 😊  Tea Tree essential oil or Eucalyptus oil can kill pathogens and get things moving!  Tea Tree can be used with a carrier oil, like your already made garlic oil, or just coconut oil, and then massaged very gently on the neck, behind the ear and all over the ear, just not inside the ear canal.

Side note: one time my son fell down and his neck got all wonky… but I didn’t know.  I thought it was like any other toddler-fall and he would be fine (he never cried much).  Well, he ended up with a fever and neck pain, with no other symptoms.  So, I took him to an energy worker who told me to take him to a chiropractor.  The chiropractor got his neck back in alignment and the fever went away and all his neck pain was gone.  It’s easier for our body to heal when the spine is in proper alignment and all body communications can work freely.  But I’m sure my Sister Tribe can clearly see that if the neck glands are congested, it would be a good idea to make sure the neck vertebrae are in proper alignment.

Please don’t discount Reiki or energy work in general.  One time a friend needed my help.  Her daughter had severe ear pain and the whole family was super sick for weeks.  I brought all my herbs, taught Mama how to use them, and started driving home.  On the way home, I heard Spirit tell me that my friend’s little girl with the ear pain would need energy work.  Well, my friend ended up calling me on my way home!  I agreed to go back and practice energy work.  She felt immediate results and drainage, but most importantly, I felt “A Great Sadness” coming out of her.  I cried. The Great Sadness was not coming out of her ears, but her stomach.  I told her and her mother what I felt and heard.  She didn’t know until after I left what she was so sad about, but when she remembered… a beautiful healing discussion happened within her family.  

The ears in pain can often represent something going on in our lives that we do NOT want to hear.  And the stomach can be about dread and fear. This was exactly right.  Luckily, this little girl has amazing, loving, compassionate parents.  She healed up beautifully!

I wish the same for all of us!

I’m just a phone call away…

  Dr. Mom II A Family Guide to Alternative Health Care


Please read our Disclaimer.  Theresa Anne Gutierrez is a Certified Herbalist through The School of Natural Healing. The above information is for informational purposes only and does not substitute medical care.

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Tara Fournier

Tara is a spiritual seeker who is guided by Spirit to share with you, her quests of finding her own inner truths of life through personal reflections, self discoveries, yoga, and mind body awareness in hopes of inspiring you in your own journey. You can also find her at

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