Healing Ear Infections Holistically

Written by Erin Odom, Contributing Writer

Last year this time, I prided myself on the fact that my 2 year old had never had a full-blown ear infection.

A strong proponent of breastfeeding and having nursed her until she was almost 2, I just knew my milk had protected her from ever really getting sick.

And I just knew it would protect my newborn as well.

I never imagined how sick my new baby would be most of the winter and into the spring.

And ear infections? She had several.

Avoiding Antibiotics

When I became a mother, I was surprised at how often my friends’ babies were on antibiotics for ear infections.

My first ear infection ever was when I was 24. I was living 12 hours away from my mama–and I cried like a baby wishing she were there to comfort me!

When my second daughter was diagnosed with her first ear infection at only a few months old, I was surprised yet determined to treat the infection holistically. She had already endured several months of yeast infections, so I knew her little gut health was off, and I didn’t want to introduce antibiotics into her system.

Determining the Cause

There are typically three causes of ear infections: bacterial (which, theoretically, antibiotics will help), viral (which antibiotics will not help) and allergen-induced (which are remedied when the allergens are removed).

The problem is that it’s difficult for many doctors to actually diagnose the cause of most ear infections. Unless there are signs of a virus or symptoms of an allergy, they may prescribe antibiotics.

Thankfully, my daughters’ pediatrician is integrative and was willing to work with us on alternative remedies—especially since it was pretty obvious her infections were viral.

Image by clappstar

Holistic Healing of Ear Infections

Under her direction and the direction of our chiropractor, here are several remedies we tried:

1. Colloidal Silver Drops: Colloidal Silver is an immunity booster and natural antibiotic. We usually put 2 drops in each ear 2 times per day during an infection.

2. Garlic Oil Drops: Garlic has many antibacterial properties. We purchased our garlic oil at our local natural health store, but you could easily make your own. Like colloidal silver, we would put 2 drops in each ear 2 times per day. We actually rotated with the colloidal silver, for 8 drops total per day.

3. Chiropractic Care: During the birthing process, neck vertebrae can become misaligned, which can affect the eustachian tube. This may lead to fluid buildup and cause ear infections. Regular chiropractic adjustments can help realign those tiny spines and prevent recurrent ear infections.

4. Lymphatic Massage: At the advice of my massage therapist friend, I massaged the lymph nodes under my baby’s ear–in a downward motion. KerryAnn, of Cooking Traditional Foods, says: “I have the type that will make you want to bang your head on the wall, but if I do the massage 4-6 times a day, my ears stay clear and don’t hurt.”

5. Breast Milk: Squirting drops of breast milk in infected ears can also speed up the healing process. I used this method the least—simply because I did not pump very frequently. (And manually expressing into her ears was a little awkward!)

Image by simmbarb

A Lesson in Humility

Did the above remedies work for my daughter? Well, yes…and no.

She ended up having three or four infections total, which, although it surprised me, my chiropractor insisted was not a lot for a child who had had RSV. In fact, she told me she had some patients who had upwards of 12 infections just last winter!

In the end, although her infections cleared, my baby’s doctor and chiropractor both felt she had glue ear, a sticky build-up of fluid behind the ear drum–that will not drain on its own.

Her doctor suggested that she see an ENT and have a hearing test.

She failed the test. The “glue” was hindering her hearing, which could potentially set her up for speech delays—or even lifelong hearing loss.

“I rarely ever say this, but you might consider getting tubes put in her ears,” her chiropractor told me.

Tubes?! I thought. Not my daughter! I’m a natural mama! She’s not having tubes put in her ears!

But after much research, prayer and talks with her doctors and chiropractor, we felt it was best.

And it was definitely a lesson in humility for me.

I’ve learned I can—and should—try natural remedies first. But, in the end, conventional treatments have their place as well. At that point, I was not willing to risk permanent hearing loss or speech delays for a 5 minute procedure that solved the problem.

Am I glad she had tubes put in her ears? Yes, I think she needed them.

But I’m also glad I tried every other remedy I knew of up until her procedure—and I avoided who-knows-how-many rounds of antibiotics.

The truth is—her infections cleared on their own. When the ENT exited surgery, he said her ears looked great. All he had to do was drain the glue.

What are your holistic remedies for healing ear infections?

Top image by Official U.S. Navy Imagery
Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links.

About Erin O

Erin is a follower of Jesus, wife to Will and mommy to three little redheaded girls (born in 2008, 2010 and 2012). She is a life-long, professional dreamer and recovering overwhelmed homemaker. Her mission is to encourage, educate and empower her readers at The Humbled Homemaker to live a grace-filled, natural life. She is the author of a 200+-page eBook all about cloth diapering-- Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert: A Simple, Comprehensive Guide to Using Cloth Diapers.

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  1. Tubes!?!

  2. Olga St. P says:

    Great article, thank you! I am a big proponent of natural remedies and after research, have been using Wally’s Ear Oil for my daughters. From October through March, 1 drop of warm oil in each ear, has reduced our infections to maybe one per cold season. Hope this suggestion helps others.

  3. Does anyone know about how long ear infections last? Or rather, when I should be worried? My 7yo has had an ear infection for about 7 days. It took me a couple days to figure it out but we have been doing garlic oil for about 4 or 5 days. Her fever is up and. Down along with her pain.

  4. Brian Lee says:

    We have become more and more interested in natural remedies ever since my wife, Annie, broke her back from a 14′ fall seven years ago. She suffers from chronic pain, for which her pain management doctor treats with many drugs. After 3 years of taking poisons that only treat the symptoms we began exploring alternative solutions. We found a supplement that, after only 9 weeks, allowed her to eliminate taking several medications her doctor said she needed. Tramodol, Cymbolta, Prestiq, Lunesta, and laxitives as well as reduced her methodone and hydrocodon by 40%. Her doctor refuses to accept that natural supplements did this for her. We learned that medical doctors know nothing about nutrition or alternative solutions, thus cannot comment on them. They have sold out to a corrupt system that includes the pharaceutical, medical, judicial and government world.
    We googled all the ingredients in the supplement she was taking and found those that specifically dealt with issues she suffered from and found that we could grow our own herbs and such that will allow us to freely use God’s gifts to help her body heal itself. It just takes a little research and a bit of labor. All of which He said we should do.
    The iformation you have provided here is invaluable. I especially liked reading and taking from others comments.

  5. Thank you for your article. My little guy has had chronic trouble with ear infections since he was a baby. Already had tubes in once when he was two. They fell out by age three. Looks like he may need them again. I appreciate your research as he has his third ear infection in three months and I hate to keep giving him antibiotics. Blessings to you and your family

  6. Very nice post. As a Chiropractor, I am often asked about this topic. I often suggest what you have touched on here in addition to the pediatric adjustments (which are different than the adult adjustments…to ease any concerns noted above.) One thing I might suggest is to add a note to the garlic ear oil suggestion. The tympanic membrane should always be evaluated prior to putting oil (of any kind) into the ear. It is possible for the tympanic membrane to rupture during an acute infection and using oil in this case would be contraindicated.

  7. misha613 says:

    Thank-you for the tips on ear infections.
    My 6month old son was put on an antibiotic for 10days ..I gave it ton him for 3 days and just didn’t fee right giving it t him..especially with the thery link to autism.
    So I’m giving him garic oil capsules a drop in both ear twice a day.

    Pray for him please.

  8. When I was child and active swimmer, we’d put Rubbing Alcohol in our ears to get trapped water out. Now an adult, I wear ear plugs to sleep and sometimes I wake up with an aweful stabbing pain in my ear. I put a few drops of rubbing alcohol in my ear and 15 minutes later my ear is completely normal. When my kids complain of any ear pain (treatment was cleared by my pediatrictian) I do the same treatment. Best of all, the treatment does not hurt.

  9. When my son (now 20) was 3-weeks old he got his first ear infection, both ears. He was on continual antibiotics until we had tubes put in at 6 months. I believe he has some affects of the antibiotics still. I now have a grandson (10 months) who had an ear infection a while back. My daughter is choosing holistic medicine. A friend told us about activated charcoal for ear infection. You make the charcoal into a watery paste, and place a couple of drops in the affected ear. Can’t wait to see the results with the next ear infection should it arise.

  10. I have put a small piece of heated up onion with a rice pack over my 2 year olds ear. Within the hour he said it didnt hurt anymore.

  11. Nice post — it is nice to know you tried everything, but still found reasoning to use a conventional method. I struggle with that as my husband is always wanting to go straight to conventional and i was to stay clear as much as i can.

  12. Can colloidal silver be used in young toddlers for an ear infection? (14 months). I was advised by my midwife while pregnant not to use silver even for my ears as it could result in harm to the fetus so now I’m not sure at what age it is safe to start using on my son.


  13. Great article. Our first had several ear infections, and it was certainly difficult to figure out how to heal naturally. Fortunately, our other three haven’t seemed to have any ear problems, but I know how awful it can be to have a little one in pain and not to be able to treat it. One thing that has also helped us in the past is hydrogen peroxide in the ears before an infection or at first sign.
    On an unrelated note, I had one of those tough lessons in humility with our third child. I was a natural birthing, 25-hours of labor can’t phase me, type mom who was very anti-c-section… until I had full placenta previa and had to have a c-section. A tough lesson for sure, but also definitely helped me have much more respect (and sympathy) for women who have to have c-sections!)

  14. I really enjoyed your post. It’s wonderful to work with a great doctor and chiropractor that help you along the way. It is fantastic that you found out about the glue ear so soon. A friend’s child and my sis-in-law found out about their kids’ glue ear when their kids were almost 3. They discovered it because of speech delays. Both boys had many ear infections. The only treatment? Load on the antibiotics (without trying to find the cause). My SIL expressed concern to her pediatrician about her son’s speech delays, and he just shrugged them off. She sought out an ENT, and he found the glue ear. He’s undergone about 10 months of speech therapy and is now showing signs of improving.

    The natural remedies allow for a process of elimination. Whereas, most modern doctors will just treat the symptoms. I am so encouraged to find out about all these natural remedies! While my boys have had very few infections, I know we will have more children. And this information and process will be invaluable.

    • @Kristy @ Almost On Purpose, Thank you so much for this encouragement! I hate what happened to your friends, but I am so thankful we were able to catch the glue ear early. I really hope the little boy will start doing better soon! I think seeing her fail the hearing test (as I was holding her) is one thing that really did it for me. She has been slower to talk than my older daughter as well, and I can’t imagine if the glue has stayed lodged longer.

      I hope you don’t have to use these remedies, but I am so glad to share–and the comments in this post are chock full of even more remedies!!

  15. Enjoyed reading all the various tips to keep in mind if and when the ear infections strike! Will definitely give some a try. My husband is a dr and says that ear infections (viral ones) and pink eye are treated with antibiotics more for the sake of the parents. Imagine yourself as the dr telling a parent who wants meds and the ear ache to go away that you will not prescribe them. It’s not always “just the way they were trained.” We are blessed to be able to choose different drs to go to if we’re not pleased by the pushiness or non-listening ear of one. (Sorry….we actually do some natural remedies too, but I tire of hearing naturalists bash the medical field, while they only see one side.) Studies have shown that meds may make them disappear 24-48 hrs sooner, but the viral ones will run their course. Kuddos to you for giving in to the tubes. I appreciate your honesty.
    And for one more side note, to those of you who use chiropractic care on little ones, please be so careful who you go to. We aren’t against chiropractors either, but my husband has worked on 3 individuals in the past 4 years who suffered paralysis due to chiropractors messing with necks the wrong way. As a mom, that makes me cringe and do my research all the more carefully.

    • @Jane, Wow–thanks so much for all the great advice–and word of caution!

    • rodney shoemaker dc says:

      oh really, “3 individuals in the past 4 years who suffered paralysis due to chiropractors messing with necks the wrong way.” BS. i have been a family chiropractor for 17 years, performing approximately 50,000 adjustments. i would never enter a profession where such a wonderful, non-invasive treatment could cause such harm. i have never heard of paralysis from chiropractic and neither have any of these readers because it doesn’t happen. if paralysis was a possibility then chiropractic would not have survived. the only place where this rhetoric comes from is the medical community ( or their spouses ). and you wonder why the holistic community is defensive to medecine and the unbalance of power. information is power. the scare tactics by the medical community is less and less effective.

  16. Thank you for a very well-written post! We haven’t had many ear infections in general (with 3 kids), but then last winter my youngest had 2 or 3, and my middle son had a ruptured ear drum! A friend told us that her pediatrician suggested having a child with ear pain blow up and balloon, then deflate it, then blow it up again, etc. We tried it with my oldest son (age 7 at the time), and it really seemed to help! Something about the pressure helps to drain the ears.

  17. We swear by wiping apple cider vinegar (the raw stuff with the cloudy bit still floating in it) around the inside of the ear- the vapours do wonders for pain relief and clearing up the infection! A good friend of my Mum’s makes onion juice and squirts that in- a powerful anti-bactieral! And some friends who own a health food store say olive leaf extract helps deal with the issues that cause them :)

  18. I have 3 children ages 6-9+11. We have not had many ear infections. I have used on multiple occasions, at their first complaint of ear pain, very finely grated ginger and/or the juice squeezed from the ginger mixed with a small amt. of good quality oil such as olive or sesame. A few drops in the ear , and it has worked every time. Ginger is reputed to be anti viral/ anti bacterial….

  19. I also prided myself on my son never having an ear infection until 2yrs old. Then some allergies and drainage seemed to cause on to come up. I used antibiotics because I didn’t know of other ways to cure them. But when it looked like he was getting another infection I’d read about using Lavender oil in the ear. We put a few drops on a cotton ball and inserted it in his ear for the night and by morning he didn’t complain a bit about it hurting.

  20. We LOVE natural remedies for ear infections! They work soooooo much better and faster than antibiotics. We can get rid of the pain immediately and clear the infection within 12 hours. :) Yay for God’s natural medicine.

    We love to heat an onion and hold it to the child’s ear if they are in a lot of pain and we also add 1-3 drops lavender and 1 drop each of lavender and melaleuca essential oil right behind or in front of the ear. Check out my blog post on our experience: http://www.familyhealthnaturally.com/2011/08/all-natural-ear-infection-treatments.html

    We’ve used the EO method the most and it ALWAYS works quickly and effectively. And just to be clear we use it when we suspect an ear infection, but mostly when we have a doctor diagnosed infection, because I rarely consider that the kids could be suffering from one (I don’t know why, but it’s just never on my radar).


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