Ear infections are caused by bacteria and viruses and mostly affect the middle ear, which is the air-filled space behind the eardrum. This space contains tiny vibrating bones that help transmit sound from the outer ear to the inner ear. Ear infections can occur in both adults and children, and depending on the cause and promptness of treatment, they can have varying degrees of resolution.
Ear infections are frequently painful due to inflammation and fluid build-up that occurs as your body attempts to attack the invading bacteria or viruses. While they often clear up on their own, ear infections should be looked at by a medical professional to make sure no serious consequences will result, especially in young children.
The use of essential oils for ear infections can prove to be an effective method for dealing with ear pain. Essential oils represent the true essence of a plant and have been used for thousands of years for healing. They can be used as part of aromatherapy or applied to the skin when mixed with a carrier oil to reap their medicinal benefits.
Also read: Common causes of sharp pain in ear and home remedies
How do essential oils treat ear infections?
Essential oils are derived from plants and contain the unique chemical makeup and properties that certain types of vegetation have. Some essential oils have antimicrobial or antibacterial properties, which are great for fighting viral and bacterial infections. Others possess analgesic properties, making them a great choice for relieving joint and muscle pain. Most have a pleasant aroma, making them an ideal choice for relaxation and stress relief.
In terms of fighting off ear infections, essential oils can help stop viruses from replicating. They can also help kill off harmful strains of bacteria by interfering with the cellular processes that provide them with energy. With no energy source, over time, the bacteria will starve and eventually die off.
So, what essential oils are good for ear infections? Read on to find out.
9 essential oils for ear infections
Extracted from the flowers of the lavender plant, this popular essential oil is known for its relaxing and sedative properties, as well as its distinct sweet, floral scent. Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties can be used to relieve an earache caused by infection. Lavender oil can help calm and soothe the mind and body. Apply this oil to the outer ear and gently massage it onto the skin.
Considered one of the best essential oils for ear infections, as it not only decreases irritation of the inner and outer ears but also helps open up the Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the nasopharynx. Olive oil also helps to create a soothing effect and relieve pain upon contact with the swollen eardrum. Regular use will help prevent excessive wax build-up as well. Apply this oil when warm to help soften your ear wax quickly for easy removal.
Tea tree oil
This essential oil can be a great solution for relieving a variety of infections due to its antibacterial and antiviral properties. This essential oil also has a great anti-inflammatory effect, helping to reduce inflammation and pain symptoms. Tea tree oil can also help relieve an earache by drying up a build-up of excess fluid. To use this oil, heat up three drops in a pan and then add a teaspoon of colloidal silver, two tablespoons of olive oil, and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Now place a towel under your head with the affected ear facing upward. By using a dropper, drop the mixture into your ear and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Repeat a couple times a day for three days.
This popular herb is a common ingredient in many meals and also boasts medicinal properties when concentrated in oil form. Oregano oil is among the most effective essential oils for an ear infection. But caution is to be exercised when using it—it may interact with medications such as blood thinners. Also, oregano oil is never to be used directly in the ear canal. It should only be applied on the external parts of the ear.
An often underappreciated essential oil, basil oil is an antispasmodic, helping to ease muscle tension. It also works as a decongestant, antiseptic, muscle relaxant, and anti-inflammatory, making basil essential oil for ear infections ideal for reducing ear pain caused by inflammation. Use this oil once diluted by placing a couple of drops on a cotton ball and placing it in your ear; be careful not to push it too far in.
Thyme essential oil is known for having antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties due to the active compound thymol. It is important not to use this oil inside your ear as it can make your condition worse.
Derived from the widely used herb, this essential oil contains analgesic properties that help to relieve aches and pains. It can even be used to reduce the signs of cellulitis and promote wound healing. Rosemary essential oil is one of the most versatile essential oils for treating an ear infection, helping to quickly neutralize any bacteria. You can mix this essential oil with lavender or eucalyptus oil and apply it to the throat, as well as up and under the ears.
Not a commonly used essential oil, but one that has strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It may, however, negatively affect people with sensitive skin. It is therefore not recommended for use near the ear canal.
As this oil is absorbed by the body, the powerful compound eucalyptol works as a potent vasodilator, increasing the size of blood vessels. This allows more blood to flow and circulate around the body, which helps to relieve aches and pains along with eucalyptus’s strong analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. You can apply this oil to the throat to relieve inflammation in the respiratory system. It is also beneficial when used in a room diffuser.
Also read: Natural vasodilators: How to dilate blood vessels naturally and increase blood flow
Recipes for essential oils for ear infections
While essential oils can help treat ear infections, you should never drop pure essential oil into your ears! These oils can burn or desensitize the sensitive mucous membranes found within the ear if they are used undiluted.
Instead, you can dilute your essential oils first by mixing them with a carrier oil. Carrier oils are vegetable oils full of fatty acids that help disperse the tiny molecules of aromatic oils.
Essential oils can be used in their pure form, but just not directly in the ear.
The following are instructions for some essential oil-based remedies for ear infections.
What you need:
- A pot of water (about 3 cups)
- 3 drops tea tree oil
- 3 drops frankincense oil
- A towel
- Place the water in a saucepan or pot on the stove and let it boil and become steamy.
- Turn off heat and carefully place the pot on a table over a placemat.
- Sit down next to the pot and add the essential oils.
- Create a tent with the towel by placing it over your head and the pot to trap the steam.
- Position your affected ear in a way that the essential-oil-infused steam enters it.
- Let the steam do its magic for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the water grows cold.
- You can do four steaming sessions in a day for acute pain and congestion.
Cotton Ball Application
What you need:
- 1 drop tea tree oil
- 1 drop chamomile oil
- ½ tsp olive oil
- Cotton balls
- Heat the olive oil until it’s just warm enough to the touch.
- Get a cotton ball and dip it in the warm olive oil.
- Add the drop of chamomile and tea tree oils to the cotton ball.
- Tape the cotton ball to your ear. Do not plug it in your ear because you do not want the oil to seep into the ear canal.
What you need:
- 4 Tbsp shea butter
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 4 drops eucalyptus oil
- 4 drops rosemary oil
- 4 drops peppermint oil
- 4 drops lemon oil
- Double boiler
- 4 oz. container
- Melt the shea butter and olive oil together in a double boiler. Make your own double boiler by placing a heatproof bowl containing the ingredients over a pot containing about two inches of water.
- Once melted, leave it to cool off for a minute.
- Stir in the essential oils with a disposable chopstick or back of a spoon.
- Leave the mixture to set for an hour, or place it in the refrigerator to speed things up.
- To use, rub the cream over your Eustachian tube (on the neck below the affected ear and over the tonsils, going downwards) for about two minutes.
Warnings and safety measures for essential oils for ear infections
While they are natural products, all essential oils should be handled with a degree of caution. Applying undiluted essential oils on the skin can cause irritation, and undiluted oils should never be applied to delicate tissue such as the type found on the eardrum.
Using more than one or two drops of an essential oil solution may cause your ear to become clogged, so if this happens, it is recommended that you wait to assess the situation before reapplying any sort of essential oil mixture.
It is also advised to keep essential oils away from children and pets. Do not substitute essential oils for doctor-prescribed medication, and seek the advice of a medical professional before starting any new essential oil treatment.
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