Sometime during my middle school career, my mother came home with candles to put in my ear. I wish I could remember my reaction to this, but it blends in with all of the other things that I once thought were weird and now I embrace. When I first used to tell people that I had my ears candled they had no idea what I was talking about until I further explained myself! I am sure that the couple of times I went to school with garlic drops in my ears had people talking (because of the smell), though I never heard any comments!
Ear candling is a natural remedy used to help cure earaches, to drain your sinuses and to clean out your ears. It has been practiced for centuries and is thought to have originated in Egypt. Closer to my home, Native Americans also used ear candling, making their candles from cornhusks. Today these candles are usually made from muslin and then dipped in wax. The candles are hollow in the middle, allowing for the candle to act as a vacuum, draining out the wax, infection, or what have you. Though many people choose to use cotton swabs to clean their ears, the actual package they come in specifically says to only use swabs to clean the outside of the ear. Inserting a swab into the ear canal can cause damage and also cause you to get an ear infection as it may impact the wax, clogging the ear and causing infection.
This is the first thing I reach for on those rare occasions that one of my family members complains of his/her ear hurting. Studies have revealed garlic and mullein to have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties. All it takes is a couple of drops into the ear with a cotton ball to keep the oil from dripping out and that’s it! I have personally done this maybe about 6 – 8 times over the years and it has worked wonders – within hours the earache was gone, though I did smell like garlic for a couple of days each time, but it was well worth it.
Eliminating Dairy can also greatly help, if not eliminate the ear infections. “Research from Finland suggests that persistent ear infections are always more prevalent in children who have a cow’s milk allergy. In one study, an astonishing 86% of the children tested became free of ear problems once they came off dairy food”(SafeKids.co.uk). Dairy increases mucus production, causing fluid buildup and irritating the ear passages. I should also note that this mucus also irritates the lung and sinus passages, causing for sinus problems and asthma.
A chiropractic adjustment is also very effective in helping to rid of an ear infection! Some great links here:
Two more remedies are breast milk and colloidal silver. If you are nursing, try the breast milk first, inserting a couple of drops into each ear a couple of times a day. As far as the colloidal silver, 3 drops in the affected ear once or twice a day is all that is needed.
Why not antibiotics?
According to pediatrician, Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, “A series of controlled studies have revealed that the use of antibiotics for treatment of ear infections makes no difference in terms of the important outcomes – hearing loss, the spread of infection, or mastoiditis. In fact, they reduce the body’s natural immune response” (147). Also, children who are given antibiotics to treat ear infections are much more likely to have recurrent ear infections than those children not given antibiotics. The New York Department of Health’s website says, “New research suggests that many children with ear infections will get better without antibiotics, and with no ill effects. This is called the observation option. This option reduces the use of unnecessary antibiotics and limits the child’s exposure to the side effects of antibiotics. It also reduces the chance that super bacteria, bacteria that cannot be killed by antibiotics, will develop.”
Interested in trying ear candling? Here’s what you need to know:
1. You should do this with the help of another person, after all, you are dealing with a lit candle in your ear!
2. You will need a bowl of water, scissors, 2 ear candles (1 for each ear), and a paper plate with a hole in the middle big enough to snugly fit an ear candle. The plate catches any ashes that may fall from the candle, though I have never had this happen. (Google ear candling images and you will find pictures of this).
3. Read the directions that come with the candles or ask the person you are buying them from to talk you through how to use them! Don’t just guess! I know many health food stores sell these. I get mine at Healthy Alternatives!
Other things you can do to help an earache heal faster:
Avoid eating dairy products, sugar and wheat! The dairy will only increase your mucus production, thus overload your sinuses, which in many cases is what causes an ear infection to begin with. Sugar will suppress your immune system, making it take longer for your body to fight off the infection and the gluten in wheat will make your immune system sluggish, again taking longer for your body to heal the infection.
And on a side note, there are many published studies that show that a baby who is breastfed has a much less (if not zero) occurrence of ear infections than babies who are formula-fed, as the mother’s breast milk provides antibodies against infection.