3-Ingredient Ear Pain Hack: Garlic, Alcohol, Cotton

[This article originally appeared on The Alternative Daily here.]

Is there anything worse than an aching ear? Recently while traveling in Mexico I came down with a nasty virus. It stole my energy for weeks, clogged my sinuses and left me with a raging ear infection. Fortunately, I was given a local age-old remedy using three simple ingredients commonly found at home: garlic, rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball. Here’s how to try it, along with other natural remedies for ear pain.

What can cause ear pain?

Ear infections may develop for a wide array of reasons, including bacteria, a virus or excess fluid trapped behind ear wax (called swimmer’s ear). Earaches are especially common in children under the age of six, but adults can get them as well.

If you go to the doctor with ear pain, chances are they will prescribe you antibiotics. The trouble is, if the ear infection was caused by a virus, antibiotics are rendered completely ineffective. So, rather than wasting your time with antibiotics that destroy your delicate gut microbiome and come with a host of uncomfortable side effects, why not try some natural remedies instead?

Heated garlic remedy for ear pain

I can attest to the fact that this remedy worked like a charm, plus the heat from the garlic felt soothing on my aching ear. If you’re wondering how garlic can take care of an ear infection, it’s due to its long-list of health-boosting benefits, including its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. While recovering from my illness, I discovered that this heated garlic remedy had been passed down through the family for generations — and now I’m passing it onto you.

If you’ve come down with a painful ear infection, try this remedy for quick relief:

Ingredients

  • Clove of garlic
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton ball

Instructions

  1. Use a pair of tongs to heat up a clove of garlic over an open flame on the stove. You’ll know it’s ready when it starts to turn brown, usually after several minutes.
  2. Soak a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol.
  3. Stick the warm piece of garlic inside the cotton ball, making sure it’s fully enclosed.
  4. Tuck the garlic-filled cotton ball into the affected ear.
  5. Let the cotton ball sit for one hour.

After the first round of treatment, you should notice that your ear pain has significantly reduced. In my case, the heated garlic remedy helped my ears to unclog so my hearing improved as well. Repeat the treatment a few times a day as needed. Here are some other natural remedies to try:

Garlic ear drops

If you don’t want to use rubbing alcohol in the recipe above, you can also try making garlic ear drops instead. Simply crush a clove of fresh garlic and mix it with warmed olive oil. Place a few drops into the affected ear to reduce pain and inflammation fast.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has antiseptic properties, meaning it will naturally kill the bacteria that has caused the ear infection in the first place. Tea tree oil’s anti-inflammatory effects can also help reduce the irritation and pain resulting from inflammation of the ear canal.

Here’s how to use it: Combine 1/3 cup of warm water with three drops of tea tree oil. Apply the solution to your ears with a dropper, allowing each side to rest for five minutes before flipping over onto a towel. Continue this process three times a day until you experience relief.

Five-ingredient natural ear pain remedy

There are tons of anecdotal remedies for ear pain out there, but we found one that’s backed up by science. Of course, it also features our favorite star ingredient: garlic. In one study, researchers discovered a five-ingredient remedy that was just as effective as anesthetic ear drops for treating pain associated with acute otitis media, the inflammation of the middle ear area related to an ear infection. Plus, it’s safe for children so you can make sure your kiddos are well taken care of.

In our version, we’re using coconut oil instead of olive oil for its scientifically proven ability to reduce inflammation.

Ingredients

  • 5 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried mullein flowers
  • 1 tsp dried St. John’s Wort
  • 1 tsp dried calendula

Equipment

  • Ceramic (or stove-safe) dish
  • Glass measuring cup
  • Cheesecloth
  • Glass jar
  • Dropper

Instructions

  1. Fill ceramic dish with water and place on stove.
  2. Place glass measuring cup in ceramic dish.
  3. Combine coconut oil and herbs in glass measuring cup.
  4. Turn on low heat, letting the coconut oil infuse with herbs for three hours.
  5. Strain herb and oil combination with a cheesecloth.
  6. Store mixture in a glass jar. When ready to use, use a dropper to place three drops into each affected ear.

A word of caution

Before you try any of these natural remedies, please get your condition evaluated. There’s a big difference between an ear ache and throbbing pain — the latter of which could be a sign of a burst eardrum. Before putting anything in your ear, visit your physician to confirm that you have an ear infection and not something more serious. 

— Hilary Lebow