Essential Oils for Ear Discomfort
Before we get into the "good stuff" about dealing with ear discomfort, please, NEVER, EVER PUT ESSENTIAL OILS IN THE EAR! You see will recipes and blogs stating to do so, please don't. Essential oils are just as effective when properly diluted and placed AROUND the ear itself. No essential oils should be placed inside the ear canal, EVER.
Having small children, we have had our share of ear issues. Now, with cold and flu season in full swing, the plugged head is wreaking havoc on our ears.
According to Webmd.com "A virus generally causes an ear infection, in which case antibiotics won’t help. However, if your doctor thinks bacteria caused the infection they may prescribe antibiotics.."
If your doctor thinks an antibiotic is necessary, by all means, take the prescription. Always listen to medical advice, they are the trained professionals. I always listen, that's why I went to them in the first place. However, I ALWAYS ask if I can try and heal the source of the issue at home, if it isn't serious. Some doctors will roll their eyes at me and tell me it will not work. By the way, here is a prescription anyway. I graciously take the script. Others will be fine with me using alternative treatments.
Over prescribing antibiotics have caused super bugs and can cause allergies in children. If you really want to try holistic remedies, if the issue isn't serious, insist on trying. If you feel the antibiotic isn't warranted, talk to your doctor. Essential oils can provide so much less stress on the body than an antibiotic. If you do decide antibiotics are the way to go (which we have), I always get a highly recommended probiotic to go with it. The gut flora will be disrupted during and after the course of antibiotic treatment.
If a virus is truly causing the infection, an antibiotic isn't going to help. You need to wait for it to get better, however, you don’t need to live with the discomfort. Here are some essential oils that may help with discomfort and help the body to heal.
Tea Tree - Melaleuca alternifolia
Basil - Ocimum basilicum
Oregano - Origanum vulgare
Lavender - Lavendula angustifolia
Thyme - Thymus vulgaris
Rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis
Roman Chamomile - Anthemis nobilis
Eucalyptus - Eucalyptus globulus
Tea Tree - Melaleuca alternifolia
The medicinal scent of this oil may be a little off-putting, don't let that sway you from using it. It can be effective in helping with discomfort and other issues. According to Pubmed.org, a 2006 review of tea tree oil’s properties explains that tea tree oil has a lot of terpinen-4-ol. "Employed largely for its antimicrobial properties, TTO (tea tree oil) is incorporated as the active ingredient in many topical formulations used to treat cutaneous infections."
Taken from a 2005 animal study on Pubmed.org, "We compared the effects of oil of basil (Ocimum basilicum) and essential oil components (thymol, carvacrol, and salicylaldehyde) to those of a placebo when placed around the ear canal of rats with experimental acute otitis media caused by pneumococci or Haemophilus influenzae. Progress was monitored by otomicroscopic examination and middle ear cultures. The treatment with oil of basil or essential oil components cured or healed 56%-81% of rats infected with H. influenzae and 6%-75% of rats infected with pneumococci, compared with 5.6%-6% of rats in the placebo group. Essential oils or their components placed around the ear canal can provide effective treatment of acute otitis media." I do NOT advocate the studying of products on animals. However, since it has already been done, and proved effective against ear issues, I wanted to share the results.
Oregano contains two powerful compounds of carvacrol and thymol that have powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. According to Pubmed.org, in a 2013 study, "The major components of oregano essential oil were carvacrol, β-fenchyl alcohol, thymol, and γ-terpinene. Hot water extract had the strongest antioxidant properties and the highest phenolic content. All extracts were ineffective in inhibiting the growth of the seven tested bacteria. In contrast, the essential oil inhibited the growth of all bacteria, causing greater reductions on both Listeria strains (L. monocytogenes and L. innocua)." As you can see from the study, it may be quite effective against bacteria and discomfort. Please do not use while pregnant or breastfeeding, if hypertensive, on diseased or damaged skin, or with children under 2. Maximum dermal use level 1.1%. Always use diluted! *1
Powerful, and popular, this essential oil can quickly reduce the discomfort of an earache and soothe the ear canal. This oil is one of the most widely accepted natural remedies for earache. It's even approved by many medical professionals. Also, according to the African Journal of Microbiology Research "The essential oil was evaluated for antimicrobial activity against pathogenic strains. It was found to be active against all tested bacterias."
Thyme - Thymus vulgaris
Herby and potent, this essential oil can reduce discomfort and other issues. Not all Thyme is the same. Some have different chemotypes. Make sure the chemotype (higher percentage of chemical constituent) you are using is safe for the person you are using it on. According to Pubmed.org, in a 2014 study, "The results demonstrate that the Thymus vulgaris essential oil tested possesses strong antimicrobial properties, and may in the future represent a new source of natural antiseptics with applications in the pharmaceutical and food industry."
In a 2008 study on Pubmed.org, Rosemary may be an effective antifungal and antibacterial oil. "Twenty compounds representing 99.93% of the oils were identified. The main constituents of the oils were p-cymene (44.02%), linalool (20.5%), gamma-terpinene (16.62%), thymol (1.81%), beta-pinene (3.61%), alpha-pinene (2.83%) and eucalyptol (2.64%). The oil consisted of monoterpenic hydrocarbons, oxygenated monoterpenes and sesquiterpene hydrocarbons. Also, the inhibition effect of rosemary oil was investigated against Alternaria alternata, Botrytis cinerea and Fusarium oxysporum. The experiment was carried out in vitro using disc diffusion to investigate the antifungal action of the oil." Rosemary essential oil may also be effective at reducing discomfot. Do not use while pregnant or breastfeeding, hypertensive, on diseased or damaged skin, or with children under 2. Maximum dermal use level 1.1%. Always use diluted! *1
Roman Chamomile - Anthemis nobilis
Roman Chamomile has been used with great effect on children when they feel irritable, impatient, teething or colicky making it excellent for ear discomfort. According to Pubmed.org, in a 2008 review, "Chamomile is used mainly as an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, also antispasmodic and mildly sudorific. Writings of several doctors of ancient time of the 16th and 17th century that chamomile was used in those times in intermittent fevers." Not only may it work to help with the ear discomfort, but it could help with a fever accompanying the ear discomfort according that this study.
Commonly known as Blue Gum Oil, eucalyptus globulus generally contains 60-75% 1, 8 cineole. It may provide support of the respiratory system, relief from discomfort and aid in healing. According to Pubmed.org, in a 2012 study, it may prove effective at fighting infection and fungus. "Consequently, the scientific interest in this field has been expanding. Some researchers have demonstrated some efficacy of Eucalyptus globulus essential oil against Haemophilus influenzae and Stenotrophomonas maltophilla. Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus agalctia, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumonia and Hemophilis influenzae are the most important causes of the respiratory tract infections and the most resistant to antibiotics. Many studies reported the antifungal propriety of plant extracts and essential oils against dermatophytes, filamentous and Candida albicans." Due to the high 1,8 cineole content, this oil is be avoided with children under 6 years of age as it can cause central nervous system problems in young children. Take care when using around infants and babies. Maximum dermal use level is 20%. Always use diluted! *1
We also like to see the chiropractor when there is an ear issue going on. Usually an adjustment or 2 will help to clear up any issues and bring the body back into alignment resulting in homeostasis. If ear issues are chronic, an appointment with an allergist may be needed, and diet seriously considered. If you suspect your child is allergic to gluten, lactose, nuts, citrus, or casein in dairy, it could be the cause of ear issues. It might be a good idea to have an IgG food sensitivity test testing for food allergies, food sensitivities or food intolerance.
These tests are fairly inexpensive, your insurance may even cover them. If you don’t want to have them, I would start a food journal. That way you may be able to pinpoint any issues. Watch them and have them listen to their bodies. Take note if they’re consuming certain types of conventional cow’s milk or gluten that you may suspect to be the culprit. Generally, if ear infections are recurring, this is where I would start and possibly give up gluten and get off conventional cow’s milk. Discuss these options with your family doctor. In my naturopathy studies, I have learned a lot about allergies and which organs usually need that support. Traditional Chinese medicine believes it's the kidney chi.
When my children have ear discomfort, we use a blend of tea tree and oregano. They are old enough where I do not need to worry about age restrictions with oregano and it is a very powerful to relieve discomfort and heal heal the body. Please remember to use a safe dilution... 1% for children and 2% for adults.
In 1 ounce of carrier oil add:
1% is 5-6 total drops of essential oil
2% is 10-12 total drops of essential oil
If making a 10ml roller bottle - divide the essential oil drops by 3. (2 drops for 1% and 4 drops for 2%)
An effective way to use the oils for ear discomfort is to make a diluted roller bottle and use it around the base of the entire ear where it attaches to the head. We apply every 1/2 hour until the discomfort subsides. Usually 6-8 hours and then around every hour or 2 for the next 24 hours. I will then reassess and see if any more is needed.
Please be mindful of contraindications, medication interaction and age limits. Only use them diluted to avoid risk of sensitization or allergic reaction. Should you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Should you need any essential oil blends, please visit our selection at https://www.sweetwillowspirit.com/essential-oils. Click here to buy single oils from Barefut.com, a great company. Have a wonderful day!
Love and light,
Caution: The material on this page is not meant to take the place of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified medical practitioner. Since the actual use of this product by others is beyond our control, no expressed or implied guarantee as to the effects of their use can be given nor liability taken. Use at your own discretion. Any application of the recommendations is at the user’s risk. Sweet Willow Spirit, LLC disclaims any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of this information and assumes no responsibility for any actions taken. This should not be used in place of traditional therapies but solely as a complementary means for bringing well-being. The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. No claims are made as to any medicinal value of any oil or healing modality.
*1 Tisserand and Young; Essential Oil Safety A Guide for Health Care Professionals: Second Edition