Are painful ear infections driving you mad? Discover 5 essential oils for natural relief
(NaturalHealth365) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls the problem of antibiotic resistance, one of the “biggest public health challenges” of our time. Indeed, when pathogens become immune to the medications meant to combat them, it is a public health issue with frightening consequences. Also known as antimicrobial resistance, antibiotic resistance affects nearly 3 million Americans and claims a shocking 35,000 lives each year. Thankfully, essential oils have the ability to combat bacterial and viral infections.
For example, in a clinical study published in a leading medical journal, a mixture of three essential oils performed as well as a commonly prescribed antibiotic for treating middle ear infections. So, let’s take a look at a possible solution to this growing problem.
Do you suffer from ear infections? These essential oils may offer a solution
With a middle ear infection, medically known as otitis media, the fluid trapped behind the eardrum can build up and cause a feeling of pressure and fullness. These infections, which can originate from a cold or other respiratory infection, may be accompanied by pain, swelling, and ear discharge. Fever, loss of balance, and difficulty hearing can also occur.
Outer ear infections (otitis externa) affect the outer ear canal and external part of the ear. Also known as “swimmer’s ear,” outer ear infections can develop from moisture trapped in the ear, which becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and redness.
Researchers say that a variety of bacteria – including such common pathogens as Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus – can trigger ear infections. However, bacteria are not the only potential culprit. Viruses and yeasts (such as Candida albicans) can also cause ear infections. While ear infections are most common in children, they can occur in adults as well.
Before using essential oils to treat an ear infection, first consult with your integrative doctor to rule out a ruptured eardrum or other complications. Your doctor may recommend taking a “wait and see” approach before advising antibiotics, as ear infections sometimes resolve on their own after a day or two. In the meantime, essential oils may provide relief.
Allow this special oil to defeat fungal infections
For centuries, natural healers have recommended clove essential oil (Syzygium aromaticum) for various conditions, including improving circulation, reducing inflammation, treating acne, and relieving toothaches. Research has shown that the active ingredient in clove oil, eugenol, is highly antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
It also works as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial, with the ability to inhibit gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria – along with viruses, fungi, and yeast. In a study published in Oral Microbiology and Immunology, scientists found that clove oil worked as well as nystatin when it came to combating fungal infections such as Candida albicans.
In other words, clove essential oil helps to inhibit and destroy a virtual “rogue’s gallery” of the microbes responsible for earaches and infections. In addition, eugenol in clove oil has natural analgesic or painkilling qualities.
A natural way to calm down earaches while reducing stress
Lavender essential oil is derived from the lavender plant, botanically known as Lavandula angustifolia. Currently, the most popular essential oil in the world, lavender oil is revered by aromatherapists for its ability to soothe headaches, reduce stress, boost the immune system, and lift the mood.
Like clove oil, lavender oil is antimicrobial. It also has antioxidant properties that allow it to scavenge disease-causing free radicals. It can also promote sleep and relieve pain (valuable benefits if a nagging earache is keeping you up at night.
And, as a side note: You can naturally improve your sleep habits by massaging 3 to 5 drops of lavender oil over the neck or chest. Breathe deeply and relax for a few minutes and see how you feel. Keep in mind, a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine revealed that lavender’s already-powerful antimicrobial effects are enhanced when combined with other essential oils.
These 3 essential oils are “as effective as” a commonly prescribed antibiotic, study reports
To find out which essential oil combinations work the best for earaches, let’s take a look at the results of the following study. In a clinical trial involving children with acute ear infections and published in the Journal of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection, researchers compared the therapeutic effects of naturopathic ear drops to those of ciprofloxacin, a frequently used prescription antibiotic.
The herbal ear drops featured a trio of essential oils – clove oil, lavender oil, and a type of geranium oil (Geranium robertianum) derived from a plant known as cranesbill. With active constituents of citronellol, limonene and myrcene, Germanium robertianum has antioxidant and antiviral qualities.
For a week, patients received dosages every 12 hours, consisting of either 3 drops of the essential oil mixture or 3 drops of a 0.3 percent ciprofloxacin formulation. The study, classified as a “noninferiority” trial, was intended to show that the herbal drops were as effective as ciprofloxacin.
This objective was clearly met.
The researchers reported that the essential oil mixture was as effective as ciprofloxacin in improving pain, itching, redness, swelling, and discharge. It also performed as well as the antibiotic in inhibiting microorganisms and reducing the burden of infection.
Discover one of the most powerful essential oils on the planet
Natural healers have long advised tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) for treating infections, acne, rashes, and sore throats. In fact, when it comes to fighting ear infections, tea tree oil “checks all the right boxes.” It is rich in antioxidants, including terpinene-4-ol and 1,8-cineole, and has anti-inflammatory properties as well.
In one 2006 review, the authors noted that tea tree oil not only has impressive antimicrobial properties against a variety of pathogens, but it kills them on contact. Additional research in 2014 supported tea tree oil’s ability to kill the bacteria that causes acne, thereby validating one of its time-honored herbal uses.
Unleash “nature’s antibiotic” on ear infections
Natural healers have long revered garlic for its powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, this member of the allium family is sometimes known as “nature’s antibiotic.” In addition, garlic and garlic extracts are believed to have powerful pain-relieving qualities.
An encouraging study involving 103 children with ear pain from middle ear infections found that naturopathic herbal ear drops featuring garlic oil were just as effective in reducing ear pain as over-the-counter ear drops containing the powerful local anesthetics ametocaine and phenazone. These results are worth noting, especially because ametocaine has several side effects, including systemic contact dermatitis.
How do I use essential oils for earaches?
Instead of taking essential oils internally, you can apply them to the skin after dilution with a carrier oil such as olive oil. You can make your own essential oil ear drops by combining 1 to 2 drops of essential oil with 2 to 4 drops of warmed olive oil. Use a dropper to place two to three drops of the mixture into the ear canal, then cover gently with a cotton ball.
Once the drops are in your ear, most natural health experts advise lying on your side for 3 to 5 minutes with the infected ear facing the ceiling. Finally, stand up to allow the oil to drain out naturally, then wipe the skin.
Of course, before trying essential oils to treat ear infections, check with your integrative doctor.
No doubt, earaches and ear infections can be truly uncomfortable. However, drug-free herbal remedies – such as essential oils from clove, lavender, geranium, tea tree, and garlic – can provide relief. And they achieve this without contributing to the growing global scourge of antibiotic resistance.
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