Tag Archives: gut flora

Garlic-Infused Ear Drops: In my quest to preserve gut flora, I find myself doing things I would have thought only weirdos would do…

Garlic OilToday 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!

Z with garlic drops

Lil Z plugs his ear after he receives homemade garlic ear drops.

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.

Garlic-Infused Oil

  • 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.

I’m gluten free now, too… and I feel a million times better. Thanks, Wheat Belly

Black and white wheat iconOK, forgive me. I have been MIA over the summer months. I have a few confessions to make: Gasp – I hate cooking – can you believe it? Yes, the truth is out. I hate cooking and baking. I hate being in the friggin’ kitchen unless I’m painting something or eating a meal someone else made. So trying to find new, innovative ways to make low-allergen meals often falls by the wayside.

Also, I started my own business, which takes a lot of time. I used to spend the evenings after the boys went to bed blogging, but now I’m painting furniture ’til, well… really, really late.  You can check out my Etsy shop if you care to.

BUT, with that said, I have some really awesome news that I will try to keep short, but it’s kind of hard to because it’s been a pretty-life changing summer.

First I want to give you a little background on my situation: I developed Hashimoto’s Disease (a thyroid auto immune disease) about the time Lil Z was born. To be honest, since I had Lil Z, I have never been the same. I’ve had bad joint pain, I’m constantly exhausted and foggy-brained, and I have just felt off. It got slightly better when I went on thyroid replacement hormones, but really, I have never felt right.

I chalked it up to getting older.

And then the really fun part began. Asthma. In the last two years I developed asthma (well, “bronchial spasms” as my doctor called them because he wasn’t willing to commit to the term asthma yet). Anyway, I really didn’t worry about it much because I only had to use my inhaler like every six months. But then this horrible pollinated summer hit, and I was using my inhaler several times a day, and using Lil Z’s fishy nebulizer machine. But not much was working to keep it under control. I just could NOT catch my breath. I stopped working out and I avoided the outside. When I mowed the lawn, I had to do emergency visit to my doctor so he could prescribe me oral steroids. It. Was. Scary.

About two days after I started taking the oral steroids I realized my joints had stopped hurting and my ankles weren’t bothering me anymore. I also noticed it didn’t hurt to stand up anymore. And when I say “it didn’t hurt to stand up,” what I should say is the excruciating pain in my tailbone (it’s broken), knees, and ankles was gone. I told the hubs this and he said,

“You do realize that pro athletes take steroids not just because they make their muscles bigger, but because it makes them heal faster, right?” – The Hubs

What?! No, I didn’t. But I realized when I went on steroids, all my pain was gone.

Something was wrong with me. Very wrong.

I began to worry about what would go wrong with my body next. I began praying that God would help me get back my health, and I believe He answered that prayer.

Wheat-BellyA friend lent me her book, Wheat BellyShe had recently put her entire family on a gluten-free diet, and the changes in her family’s health were amazing (a story for another time).  I was skeptical about Wheat Belly, thinking it was just going to be a fad diet. But I was shocked. I was reading about me.

Davis explains that gluten helps create a hyper-permeable gut (aka “leaky gut”), which causes various compounds to escape the intestinal walls into the blood stream.

“So what happens if various obnoxious compounds mistakenly gain entry into the bloodstream? one of the undesirable effects is autoimmunity — i.e., the body’s immune response is ‘tricked’ into activation and attacks normal organs such as the thyroid gland or joint tissue. This can lead to autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and rheumatoid arthritis…conditions such as celiac disease, thyroid disease, joint diseases, and asthma.” – William Davis, M.D., Wheat Belly p. 83

Dr. Davis was the first person to actually explain why gluten can be so problematic for many people. I’d heard people say for years, “I don’t eat gluten.” When I asked why they always said, “Because it’s not healthy for you.” Uh, sorry, that explanation sucks, and was never good enough for me to stop eating it. I’d also read that there is a connection to Hashimoto’s Disease and celiac disease, but I tested negative to celiac disease.

Anyway, I went gluten free the day I began reading Wheat Belly. Within three days, my joint pain was gone and I rarely needed my inhaler. Within two weeks I stopped having asthma attacks completely.

Although they were significantly better, the fogginess and fatigue continued. I kept reading that the majority of our immune system is in our gut, and I realized that I needed to make even bigger changes to my diet if I wanted to heal my stomach (i.e. my immune system). I went grain free, sugar free, and dairy free for about month (this is getting long, so I’ll do another post on this at a later date). I also started taking really high doses of probiotics and diatomaceous earth (again, I’ll save those for another post). Basically, I started hitting my gut problem with a cannon, and I noticed significant results.

I’m now eating small amounts of fruit and gluten-free grains (basically when I have a weak moment and eat one of the boy’s cookies). I did reintroduce dairy, but realized it was causing eczema flare ups. I am hoping that in several months after I heal my gut, I will be able to tolerate dairy again.

Results since going gluten free:

  • Joint pain -gone
  • asthma -gone
  • allergies – I rarely take allergy medicine anymore
  • stools – normal now (sorry for the TMI – I didn’t realize mine were not healthy because I have never had GI pain). Let’s just say, if yours float and look foamy, you need to change your diet because you have a malabsorption problem. Sorry for the TMI, again.
  • eczema – greatly reduced. It flares if I have dairy or a lot of sugar/carbs. I notice that when I eat dairy I get dyshidrotic eczema, and when I eat lots of carbs and sugar I seem to just have itchy run-of-the-mill eczema.
  • itchy scalp (I know, this ones crazy) – gone. I know, you’re thinking, “you’re a weirdo.” I have had  an itchy scalp (no dandruff and no rash, just an extremely itchy scalp) for at least 10 years, but it is now gone. I tried dairy last week, and it came back, along with some pretty itchy eczema.
  • yeast infections – Soooo TMI here, and again sorry. I have had chronic yeast infections for about four years now, which are now all but gone. And I think this bullet point can get the BIGGEST whoo-hoo of all!!! Again, I think I’ll save the topic of candida overgrowth for another post!
  • My hair and nails are much thicker/stronger.
  • My impulse control around food is much better. I definitely experience the opiate effect that wheat can have on the brain. In fact, I know if I have been “contaminated” with gluten not because I feel sick (like my boys) but because I want to eat everything in sight.
  • I’ve lost 20 pounds, which I have been trying to do for five years!!!

Wheat Belly is a must read, and it discusses more than just the health impacts of wheat on our bodies. Dr. Davis discusses the history of wheat, wheat’s genetic modification, and he recounts several stories of patients who tested negative for celiac disease yet had dire health problems (ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis) who went gluten free and experienced significant health recovery.