14 Natural Remedies for Earaches

Having an earache is a real drag.

Having a child with an earache is even more challenging. It can mean sleepless nights and irritable days for all of you.

An ear infection is one possible cause of that ache, but even if it isn’t an infection, a buildup of wax or dirt in the ear can still be extremely uncomfortable. And flying on a plane or driving to a higher altitude can bring on an earache pretty quickly.

When it happens, it doesn’t matter whether it’s an inner ear or outer ear infection, impacted ear wax, or an allergy response. You just want relief.

The doctor may see you during office hours, but it seems like earaches tend to appear in the middle of the night. What do you do at 2 AM?

Here’s a list of natural remedies that you might have in your home right now:

14 Natural Remedies for Earaches

  1. Irrigate the ear with astringent herbs – Simmer 1/4 cup of dried comfrey leaves and 1/4 cup dried witch hazel leaves in 2 cups of water for 5 minutes. Let it cool, strain the mixture, and irrigate the ear with an ear bulb (ear syringe) by leaning over the sink with the sore ear down and gently flooding the ear with the solution. Do not squeeze the bulb forcefully. Repeat four times a day.
  2. Irrigate the ear with healing herbs – Simmer 1/4 cup dried mullein leaves, 1/4 cup echinacea root, and 1/4 cup dried comfrey leaves in 2 cups of water for 5 minutes. Cool, strain, and irrigate the ear as above four times a day. Alternate herb mixtures as desired.
  3. Irrigate the sinuses with a neti pot – A warm salt water solution will help with sinus and ear pressure.
  4. Use warm garlic oil drops in the ear – Heat 1/4 cup olive oil just until warm. Add 2 or 3 cloves of crushed or pressed garlic to the oil, let sit for fifteen to thirty minutes, then strain. Lay on your side with the affected ear up, and pour in a small amount of warm garlic oil. Leave the oil in the ear for at least 10 minutes (longer is better), repeating the process three to four times per day.
  5. Use warm clove oil drops in the ear – Use a tablespoon of crushed cloves in place of the garlic, as above.
  6. Use ginger and sesame oil drops in the ear – Grate a tablespoon of fresh ginger root into 1/4 cup warm sesame oil, prepare as with garlic oil.
  7. Apply warm poultices to the ear – A washcloth dipped in hot water and placed over the ear and side of the neck relieves acute pain. Keep dipping the cloth into hot water and replacing when cool. One folk remedy says to chop 1/2 cup of onion and add it to the hot water before applying.
  8. Place an ice pack on the ear – Alternate cold with the hot poultices. Apply for a shorter time than the hot.
  9. Lavender or tea tree oil – Put two or three drops onto a cotton ball and place in outer ear, leaving it as long as is comfortable. Do not push the cotton ball into the ear canal. Apply lavender oil externally behind and below the ear.
  10. Gargle with salt water – Add 1/4 teaspoon salt to a cup of warm water, stir until dissolved, and gargle until all of the solution is gone. Repeat three to four times per day.
  11. Take a hot bath
  12. Try an ear candle – Ask for directions at a natural foods store or herbalist
  13. Stand on your head - This helps to ease some ear and sinus issues and helps with drainage of the Eustachian tubes.
  14. Treat the inside of your body – Support the immune system with echinacea, osha, or your favorite herb taken internally. Drink plenty of water and fresh fruit juice, cut out sweets and any possible allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, etc.) from your diet. Take some extra vitamin C.

Do you have a favorite earache remedy? Leave a comment!

More natural remedies:

Image: thomasbrodbeck at Flickr under Creative Commons

Comments

  1. Ear candling has been proven medically to be completely fake. All the wax that comes out is from the candle itself. No wax comes out of the ear.

  2. I’ve never tried the ear candle, so I can’t say from personal experience, but some people swear by them.

    Placebo effect, maybe?

  3. I’ve used ear candles before, and the smoke offers some relief. I don’t have earaches, but I have really itchy ears. It drives me crazy sometimes. When I did once have an ear infection, I used a clove of garlic taped to my ear for a day. It drew the infection out. You boil the clove first until it is soft but not mushy. There’s also a series of pressure points/massage you can do on the ear. It is described in The Handbook of Alternatives to Chemical Medicine.

  4. Laura Zigler says:

    If your ears itch, which mine do quite often, my allergist told me to put 1% hydrocrotisone cream on a qtip and spread it gently in the ear canal. It will make it quit itching so you won’t put your finger or other things in there and possibly scratch it and make it a ripe playground for an infection. It works wonderfully and doesn’t impair the hearing at all.

  5. Additional warning:

    Any oil being applied in the ear should only be WARM, NOT HOT.

    Compresses and poultices can be as hot as you can handle, short of scalding yourself.

  6. I have to share this. I read this post last night and this morning my two year old was complaining of “something in the ear”. The only remedy I could remember offhand from the post was hanging upside down. So, I helped my son walk across the kitchen on his hands and that was the end of his complaints. Placebo effect or not, it worked!

  7. We have a remedy that seems to work wonders for our kids when they get earaches – cut a whole onion in half, warm one half in the oven for 15 minutes or so, wrap it in a tea towel, and place directly on the ear for a while. Not sure if it’s the heat, the onion fumes, or a placebo, but it seems to work for us.

    I’m not sure where we got that idea – I think my wife found it during a late-night Google search when one of our kids was screaming with an earache…

  8. When my middle daughter had an ear infection at around 11 months, the thing that made her the most comfortable was rocking her with a very warm, wet washcloth just laid over the sore ear. I think the combination of heat and humidity gave her some relief.

  9. I’ve heard that ear candles can be pretty dangerous. If you are still breast feeding, breast milk is an excellent remedy for an ear infection, just put in a couple of drops every few hours.

    • Yes! Human milk treats so many things – ear infections, eye infections, nasal infections, stuffy noses, minor cuts, you name it. :)

  10. I have a small child who used to be plagued with chronic ear infections. Every time she got sick it would start all over and her doctor put her on so many rounds of antibiotics, I lost count. Someone suggested acupuncture but I knew my child would not put up with the needles. I called a local one in the area and she said she had an herbal remedy that she created for her kids. The herbs are put into a gummy candy and I tried it on my child. They loved the remedy and two days later her chronic ear infections were gone! After one day, she put her finger in her ear and pulled out a dried plug of old pus and said “my ear doesn’t hurt anymore”. I gave them to her for another day just to be safe. I keep these gummies in my medicine cabinet and give them to my child every time she starts to get sick and she hasn’t had an ear infection since and that was a year ago! These gummies saved our lives! The acupuncturist sells them on her website ecoherbal.com. Try these, they work!!

  11. I had a really bad ear ache once at work due to my wisdom teeth coming through, i had already been sick the week before so i couldnt have another day off. Had left my wallet at home so couldnt buy anything to help with the pain, i thought i was doomed untill i had an idea that heat would make it better so i got a cup filled it not even half way with hot water and put my ear at the top of the cup to capture the steam, 15 mins i all it took and i went on about my day like it was normal, i did need to do it agian later in the day but it worked!

  12. Right here is an article that’s well worth bookmarking

  13. Grapefruit Seed Extract…. Works miracles for everything from ear infections to thrush and you can clean with it, grrrrreat bleach alternative! :) google it!

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