Today Lil Z complained to me that his ear hurt. Sigh. This could mean he is having his third ear infection in less than two months. But I am going to try my darndest to keep him away from antibiotics.
Let me tell you why…
In the last few months I have been reading a lot about the importance of maintaining proper gut flora (i.e. the good bacteria in your stomach), and how an imbalanced gut flora leads to a weakened immune system and host of other problems like food intolerance, leaky gut, asthma and so on.
Most people are aware that antibiotics decimate gut flora, but what most people don’t know is that gut flora is REALLY hard to get back. Although I believe antibiotics are a wonderful miracle of the 20th century, I also believe their use should be used only when absolutely necessary.
Lil Z started Kindergarten this year and since then our house has been nothing but horrible sickness after horrible sickness (flu, colds, pink-eye, vomit fests – you get the picture). About a month ago, everyone at our house got really bad colds that just didn’t seem to go away. Z ended up getting a double ear infection, and although I didn’t want to put him on antibiotics, I knew it was necessary. A day later, I got a painful “little kid” earache (as the Hubs called it), and I thought, there is no way I’m going on antibiotics and undoing all my hard work; I’ll let my dumb eardrum burst before I do that.
See, I started having some pretty annoying health problems in the last few years that I’ve come to the conclusion were caused by a muffed-up gut, and I had to make some really hard changes to get better. I went gluten free and drastically cut down on sugar in all forms (grains, dairy, and fruit). I started eating unpleasant things to help balance gut flora (like raw garlic, and apple cider vinegar with the “mother” – creepy, I know) and taking really expensive probiotics. These were REALLY hard changes that actually made me physically ill for a couple of weeks and ticked off my gallbladder, and… I won’t bore you with the details of that right now, but I just want to highlight that I wasn’t going to undue all my hard work by killing all the good bacteria I had worked so hard to build up!
So, as I said before, I would let my dumb eardrum burst before I would take antibiotics (before I get huffy comments, I want to let you know I of course would never do this to my children, just me!). So I gutted out the pain and the annoying plugged feeling — for like a day and a half. In desperation, I thought, “I wonder if there is a natural remedy for an ear infection?” So, of course I went to the internet and found a bunch of message boards talking about garlic as a natural earache remedy. A couple of message boards said they had luck when they wrapped chopped garlic in a tissue and stuck it in their outer ear (I tried this and it did relieve the earache pain pretty quickly; however I wouldn’t recommend this – especially with a child. It burns like the dickens).
And then I came across several web sites that said to use garlic-infused olive oil. The recipe I used at the time was from Livin’ in the Green. I don’t like the feeling of ear drops, but I was in a lot of pain, and apparently Dr. Oz recommended it on a show one time, which made me feel better about dropping homemade crap in my ears.
And to my sweet relief, it worked. I used the drops two times a day for two or three days (I can’t really remember). The best part about using it was that the pain was significantly reduced in the first few minutes of using it. Within two days the pain was gone and the plugged feeling began to gradually subside.
The more I read about garlic, the more amazed I am by it. It is a natural antibiotic and anti-fungal that has been shown to kill even resistant strains of bacteria and fungi.
So tonight, when Z complained that his ear hurt, I quickly made some garlic infused ear drops. I had him lie on his side and I dropped two drop into his hurting ear, and I plugged his ear with a wadded up tissue to catch the excess oil from draining out. He whined of course because he hates ear drops, but told me a few minutes later his ear didn’t hurt anymore… Yes!
Now, if his earache continues for a few more days or his symptoms get drastically worse, I will of course take him to the doctor. But, in the meantime, it is a wonderful natural remedy that relieves pain and fights infection — and I didn’t have to sit three hours in an ER waiting room at 9 pm on a Sunday night.
With that said, if your child is screaming, grabbing his ear and acting crazier than he normally does when he gets an ear infection, it probably means his ear drum is about to burst. I would NOT use these drops, and I would seek medical attention – soon. And it goes without saying: never use drops in a ruptured eardrum, unless advised to do so by a doctor.
- 1-2 crushed and chopped (fresh) garlic cloves
- 2-3 Tbl Sp olive oil
Mix the garlic and olive oil together and let it sit for at least 15 minutes so the natural antibiotics (allicin) can be released. Use a dropper or spoon to remove a few drops of oil and drop into the hurting ear (ensuring you don’t get any garlic pieces). Plug the ear with a cotton ball or wadded tissue to catch any excess oil. Do this treatment for several days until symptoms subside. Warm the oil for to make it even more soothing on the hurting ear.
Some web sites say you can keep your ear drops for several days or weeks or even… yuck… months. I’m kind of a germaphobe, so I throw mine out or use them on dinner within a day (you know, of course, don’t double dip). Garlic and olive oil are relatively cheap, so I just make mine fresh every 12-15 hours.
* DO NOT use garlic ear drops If the ear drum appears to be perforated or ruptured — Seek medical attention immediately.