As an herbalist, it's my goal to find natural and holistic approaches for the health of my family, community, and myself. Like these home remedy ear infection drops (garlic ear oil). As a mother of young children, it seems at least one of the kids always has a runny nose and congestion. Which easily turns into an ear infection. So, I have spent some time formulating natural ear infection drops that actually work!
Items needed for home remedy ear infection drops (garlic ear oil)
- Glass bottle with dropper
- Olive oil or fractionated coconut oil
- Fresh garlic cloves
- Tea tree oil
What causes ear infections?
An ear infection occurs when a bacterial or viral infection affects the middle ear. Inflammation and fluid build up in the middle ear because of blocked Eustachian tubes.
These can occur for varying reasons such as allergies, sinus infections, and colds, to name a few.
In my personal experience, the ear infections in myself and my children are ALWAYS a result of lingering colds. (Which we try to prevent by taking elderberry syrup regularly during cold and flu season.)
Antibiotics are not always the answer
Two of my kids have had ear tubes because of chronic ear infections, and we have our pediatric ENT on speed-dial. I honestly can't tell you the amount of antibiotics that have been pumped through their systems, trying to clear up the pain and infections. At one point, the antibiotics weren't effective, and I personally feel that our doctor was carelessly prescribing them.
Do my kids get viral ear infections? Perhaps. But is there a chance a resistance to the antibiotics is building, or that there is a greater underlying problem? A likely possibility.
The Center for Disease Control recommends "watchful waiting" for healthcare providers before they engage in the knee-jerk reaction of prescribing antibiotics. I also found this article extremely informative in terms of information and studies about ear infections and antibiotic resistance.
Natural home remedy ear infection drops for support
We've now established that we most likely don't need antibiotics for ear infections. I use the following herbal remedies that contain antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory actions to support discomfort and infection that may be lurking in the inner ear:
Olive oil is an affordable and readily available oil with amazing health benefits, such as being antibacterial and antiviral. It's also heat tolerant for making infusions. I also have used fractionated coconut oil. This is the liquid form of the oil so it stays liquid at room temperature. It can be used as a carrier oil to dilute essential oils and infuse with other herbs. It only contains its medium fatty acid chains, meaning a large amount of the antimicrobial properties are no longer available. However, it is very smooth, heats well, and doesn't clog the ear. I buy mine here.
Raw garlic is an incredibly powerful root and food. It's in many recipes for tonics and ciders because of its many herbal actions. These include antibacterial, antiviral, anti fungal, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulator. It's one of the oldest home remedies for ear infections. In fact, an herbalist colleague of mine said she sticks cloves of garlic in her kid's ears when there is a looming infection. (That made me laugh out loud at the thought of it. But apparently it's effective!)
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil (melaleuca) is a common essential oil used for infections because of its antimicrobial properties. The Clinical Microbiology Review published a paper about the medicinal uses of tea tree oil. It states, "There are already several nonantibiotic approaches to the treatment and prevention of infection, including probiotics, phages, and phytomedicines. Alternative therapies are viewed favorably by many patients because they are often not being helped by conventional therapy and they believe there are fewer detrimental side effects. In addition, many report significant improvement while taking complementary and alternative medicines. Unfortunately, the medical profession has been slow to embrace these therapies, and good scientific data are still scarce. However, as we approach the “postantibiotic era” the situation is changing. A wealth of in vitro data now supports the long-held beliefs that TTO (tea tree oil) has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties."
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How to make home remedy ear infection drops
It's extremely easy AND affordable! Have you ever purchased prescription ear drops? You could buy an old used car for the same price. (Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, depending on how generous the seller is.) However, a bottle of the ear drops our ENT prescribed is $160. Um, that's a lot of money. When you can make home remedy ear infection drops for $5.
The most expensive part of these ear drops is the therapeutic grade tea tree oil, which is $19 at wholesale price. And that's the entire bottle, which has so many more uses. (I'm looking at you, toenail fungus.)
To make these, you simply cook two raw cloves of garlic in two tablespoons of olive oil or fractionated coconut oil until fragrant. Strain and pour it in a sterile dropper bottle, and add 6-8 drops of pure tea tree oil. That's it!
I store this ear oil in the fridge for up to one week, and then make a new batch as needed after that. (If ineffectively made or stored in unsterile conditions, garlic can grow bacteria that leads to botulism.)
To reheat, place the bottle of ear oil in a bowl of hot water for 1-2 minutes. Ensure the oil is not too hot by testing a drop on your hand. You can also use a thermometer to test the temperature of the oil.
Using tea tree essential oil safely
There is a lot of misinformation on the internet and social media about how to use essential oils safely. I think many people assume that because they are "natural" and made from plants, that they can be heavy-handed and use them on everyone and everything.
That's not the case. Many essential oils are not safe for children under the age of six. And in my opinion, oils should NEVER be ingested and taken internally. (With the exception of rare cases where it is closely monitored by an herbalist or aromatherapist and its use is short-term.)
Tea tree oil is toxic when ingested and is only to be used topically or aromatically. Also, it is regarded as safe for children in instances to support bacterial infections, such as an ear infection.
Lastly, it's imperative that you use a therapeutic pure grade of essential oil when using them topically. I use doTERRA because of their high standards and testing for purity, and sustainable and ethical attention to co-impact sourcing. If you're interested in how to use essential oils to support your wellness and provide more natural solutions, read my essential oils starter guide here.
Is tea tree oil safe to use in ears?
A good practice to implement when using essential oils is to patch test on a surface area on your skin. Check for any adverse reactions and redness. If everything checks out, you should be able to use these sparingly in your ears, to support ear infections.
I use these home remedy ear infection drops on my two, five, and six-year-old children. We only use these drops when ear pain is present, meaning a handful of times per year.
Take heed to make sure the ear drop oil is warm when applying, and only use one to two drops. Gently drop into the ear and massage, lying on your side, about five minutes, to let it absorb in the inner ear.
(Please note that it's important to consult your healthcare provider if you have specific questions about using alternative approaches to your health. I am not a doctor, and these protocols are intended for educational purposes.)
These home remedy ear infection drops actually work
I've used every ear infection support available. Antibiotics, costly ear drops, ear tubes, warm compresses, decongestants... EVERYTHING.
The first time I used these drops on my five-year-old at his initial complaint of an ear ache due to congestion from a cold, he immediately felt better, and didn't have any symptoms the next day.
That first-hand experience right there gives me everything I need to continue using these beautiful plant medicines. For which I am immensely grateful. And I hope these can support and educate you in your wellness journey for your family, too!
You might also like:
- How to Make Elderberry Syrup
- 3 Home Remedies for Cold + Common Ailments
- Herbs and Supplements to Boost Your Immune System Quickly
Home Remedy Ear Infection Drops (Garlic Ear Oil Recipe)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil or fractionated coconut oil
- 2 cloves raw garlic crushed
- 6-8 drops tea tree oil
- Heat oil in a small pan and add crushed garlic. Cook over low heat until garlic becomes fragrant, about 3-4 minutes, and garlic is infused in oil. Remove from heat.
- Strain oil and pour into a sterile glass amber dropper bottle. Add 6-8 drops of tea tree oil. Shake well.
- Drop 1-2 drops oil in ear as needed. Lie on side and gently massage behind ears, about 5 minutes to allow oil to absorb in ear. Use once per day as needed to support ear infections and ear health.
- Make sure the garlic is roughly chopped or crushed to release juices.
- Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week. Reheat oil as needed when using, and make a new batch after that 1 week timeframe to ensure purity.
- To reheat, place the bottle of ear oil in a bowl of hot water for 1-2 minutes. Ensure the oil is not too hot by testing a drop on your hand. You can also use a thermometer to test the temperature of the oil.
Disclaimer: Please check with your healthcare provider or physician for any contraindications or specific questions about these protocols. While these are generally regarded as safe, each individual has specific needs or limitations based on their health history. The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease.
I find this natural remedy very useful and will try it out but I'm just wondering is this for all ages or just for the children?
I read comments and see people only mention children.
I'm 43 and in the last couple of months I have symptoms of clogged ears or blocked ears but no infection or pain. My hearing is low, specially on my left ear and I have this annoying "noises" in the ear.
Can I use it?
Abbey Rodriguez says
Hi Haris, I use this for myself, and I am in my 30s. However, I recommend checking with your healthcare provider before using these drops. Hope your ears feel better soon!