Home Remedies for Earaches.

 Sage woke this morning at 1 AM with a painful earache. He is at the tail end of a virus and it has settled out in his ear. He moaned and cried until 4:30 and then only slept until 7:00 before the tears started to flow again.

Many people reach for antibiotics when their child has an ear infection. I understand why. An ear infection is not only painful for your child, but it robs the whole family of sleep and is close to your child's brain, making it scarier than, say, a leg ache.

We were blessed with some good advice from our (mainstream) pediatrician when Sage was a baby. Her daughter, prone to frequent ear infections, became her antibiotics-for-ear-infections guinea pig. The physician experimented with antibiotics for her child's ear infections: half of the time she gave them to her, half of the time she didn't. The result? She no longer prescribes antibiotics for ear infections. She found no difference in average healing time with our without the meds.


And the use of antibiotics – for anyone, but children in particular – should be done with great care. The implications of every dose of antibiotics is massive. Sage's colic, for example, began one day after we chose to administer antibiotics to our baby when he spiked a fever at 2 weeks old.

Antibiotics don't discriminate with what they kill and your (or your child's) entire system is cleared of the beneficial bacteria that keep us healthy. Antibiotics have their place, but are serious medicine for such small, sensitive systems.


With any ear infection, seek consult from a naturopath, homeopath, or physician who shares your perspective. We called our homeopath/physician and her recommended remedies for his care. It is now 11:00 and Sage has napped and is feeling 90% better. 

Our earache remedies follow:

~ Garlic Willow Ear Oil: You can purchase this at your coop or make your own. To make your own, crush three cloves of peeled garlic. Add 1/3 C organic olive oil, and gently warm. Do not simmer. Cover and allow to infuse for 15 minutes. Strain. Place four drops of warm (not hot or cold) garlic ear oil in each of the child's ear. Always treat both ears. If you have access to mullien flowers they are a wonderful addition.

~ Onion Compress: I know. It sounds weird, but works great. Cold or hot onion compresses work beautifully to draw infection from the ear.

Hot Onion Compress – Saute 1/2 of a medium onion in 1 Tb olive oil. Cool slightly. Divide and wrap in cotton flannel and place warm compresses on both ears. Allow to cool before removing. These can be held in place with a washable hat. 

Cold Onion Treatment – slice onion into 1/2" pieces. Wrap in gauze and place on both ears. Top with a tight hat and have your child wear as long as they will stand for it, up to two hours.

~ Homeopathic remedies: There are several options available. Your choice will vary by you child's symptoms. We use our favorite homeopathy books (this one and this one), but there are also online resources if you don't have a homeopath in your area.

~ Warm lower back: Chinese medicine connect kidneys and ears. Keeping the kidneys warm with a hot water bottle is comforting.

~ Ginger-Lemon-Honey-Echinacea Tea: Pound a 2" piece of garlic with the butt-end of your knife handle. No need to peel. Place in a pan and cover with 4 C water. Simmer. Add 1/4 C echinacea flowers and remove from heat. Steep for 15 minutes. Strain, add the juice of 2-3 lemons, and sweeten with honey (use maple if you child is too young for honey).

Feel well!

24 thoughts on “Home Remedies for Earaches.

  1. ami says:

    my mum has done the garlic oil technique since i was a baby as her mother and her mother’s mother had done. we love it, although it does induce dreams of food for those nearby:)

  2. Casey says:

    Ugh, sorry to hear that you’re battling ear infections too. We love Wally’s Ear Oil here, which contains Almond oil, essential oils of Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Garlic, Mullein, and Echinacea Root.

    If you do have to go the antibiotic route, just really really make sure to give some major yogurt/probiotics to help out!

  3. Mary Jo, Five Green Acres says:

    Mullein (oil infused from the flowers) and garlic are a classic combo I’ve heard a lot about. Sounds very similar to the garlic/willow oil. I’ll bet that the willow is added for some pain relief.

    Hope he’s on the mend soon! I had a round of outer ear infections this past summer – no fun.

  4. Wendy says:

    We’ve added tea tree to a pre-blended ear oil and it seems to work really well. Just make sure not to add too much because it is a little bit tingley feeling. There is nothing more soothing than warm oil for an ear ache.

  5. Rachel Wolf says:

    Wendy, That was just what I was planning, but we experimented with a St. Johns wort oil tonight and it has worked like magic. Much comfort. I was surprised as St. Johns wort doesnt come to mind for ears for me. Have you tried it?


  6. denise says:

    My son who has asthma/goes into respiratory distress at every virus always gets double ear infections with a virus. We try not to ever do antibiotics, even with pnemonia, for all those reasons you listed. He has eczema too, and they mess with it, so we stay away.

    Garlic oil has worked wonders and we do often mix it with other herbs or use a special ‘ear oil’ which includes other things. Warm compresses work wonders too – and I must try the warm onion.I’ve never heard of that! We’ll try the tea next time too – those are ingredients we usually have on hand.

    We have also found that if we start giving a xylitol based nasal mist/rinse as soon as he starts a cold, that the bacteria doesn’t back up in there, preventing ear infections from happening. It is common for kids with asthma/eczema to have canal issues and get ear infections a lot, and I think since the xylitol prevents bacteria from growing, multiplying, then no infection – he hasn’t had an ear infection in a year – knock on wood. He used to have several double ones per winter.

  7. Rachel Wolf says:

    Thanks, Denise. Good thoughts. Weve also recently (ie: today) discovered St. Johns Wort oil for ears. Brilliant stuff. Do a search online and youll find some info. What is in your herb blend? The xylitol spray is such a wise suggestion.

    ~ Rachel

  8. denise says:

    Rachel – We use an herb blend similar to the ear oil we often get from Mountain Rose Herbs (herb pharm, I think):: olive oil infused with Calendula, St. Johns Wort, Mullein, Garlic. I have also had recipes which included Goldenseal or Grapefruit Seed Extract. All seem to help!

  9. Sarah Hartnell says:

    The garlic mullein (spelling?) oil was prescribed to me by my chiropractor Springtime Chiropractic. She says if it is in one ear to sleep with the ear up. From my dentist, yes dentist, I was told to scrape the tongue as far back as possible to get the gunk out. Also to gargle. I use warm salt water for that. And Mucinex to thin out the mucus. But nasal washes work too.

  10. Nicole says:

    Hey Rachel,

    Thanks for sharing these interesting remedies for earaches! Just want to add one more remedy for earache that worked well for me:

    Take 50 g of each of the herbs – St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), camomile (Matricaria chamomilla), common rue (Ruta graveolens) – grind and place them in 500 ml of olive oil. Leave for 30 days in bright sunshine. Put 5 drops of the ready mixture into the ears 30 nights in a row.

    Thanks again Rachel – keep posting, and we’ll keep reading 🙂



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