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Ear Care

Traditional treatment of earache, dizziness, and ringing in the ears/tinnitus caused by ear infection is long standing over the course of human history. The ears have tiny passages lined with sensitive hairs. These move and give us orientation to the earth’s gravity and are integrally connected to the sinuses and nose. Below I will describe a comprehensive natural strategy for dealing with the common ear issues we deal with, including pain, discomfort, drainage, hearing loss, and wax buildup.

Ear Oil 

Use this garlic/mullein/olive oil mixture to soften wax, kill infection, soothe pain and lower inflammation in the ears. It is easy to make in a standard kitchen


  • 1 pinch of dried mullein - Mullein is soothing and and anti inflammatory, but if you don’t have any on hand, you can skip this ingredient

  • 3-4 chopped cloves of garlic 

  • 1/3-1/4 cup of olive oil 

  1. In a glass or stainless steel* pan heat all ingredients over low heat on the stovetop. *Many metals and other materials can leach into the oil when heated.

  2. Stir and watch until the oil looks like it is moving on its own (about 5 minutes). 

  3. Turn off the flame, cover the pan, and let it cool for about an hour. 

  4. Strain out the herbs and store the oil in a glass container in a cool, dark place.  Refrigerated, the oil will keep for a year or more, but should be warmed in a bowl of hot water before putting it in the ears.

  5. Strain out the herbs and store the oil in a glass container in a cool, dark place.  Refrigerated, the oil will keep for a year or more, but should be warmed in a bowl of hot water before putting it in the ears.  Recycling any glass container is easy: wash well with warm soapy water, dry well and then wipe the inside of the jar and the lid with 90% rubbing alcohol and air dry before storing your oil in it. Classic sterilization in boiling water is not necessary because of the antiseptic quality of the garlic.

If the problem is ongoing, use the oil nightly at bedtime to resolve an acute flare up. Place 5-15 drops of the oil in the affected ear, cover it with a piece of cotton ball and sleep with your ear covered for at least an hour. Rub any of the oil that drips on the neck and the bones around the ear. Remove the cotton in the morning and repeat nightly until your ear is clear. You will know the oil has cleared the draining tube of the ear if you taste the garlic oil as it drains down the back of your throat.



If pain/inflammation doesn't completely clear with the garlic/ mullein/olive oil, Use an onion to dry out any fluid built up in the ear.


  • Steam half of an onion until it’s warm (not so hot it will burn the skin, but warm enough to soften the onion and feel warm on your skin). You can do this in a couple different ways:

    • microwave in 20-second increments until the onion is warm and slightly softened. Make sure the onion is not too hot to the touch.

    • Use a steaming basket in a pan with a little water. Cover and steam on low hear until the onion is warm, but not hot

  • Lie on your side (so the affected ear is facing upwards) and place the onion over the ear, cut-side completely covering the opening of the ear. 

  • Hold it in place with a long thin piece of fabric (scarf, nylon stocking, bandana etc).  This will dry out any fluid built up in the ear.  Stay in this position for about an hour (we recommend finding a good movie or TV show to pass the time!)

  • Remove the onion, and place a few drops of the garlic/mullein oil in the ear. Cover with a piece of cotton ball for about an hour.

  • Repeat as needed until you feel the inflammation/fluid retention is resolved.  If both ears are both bothering you, you can treat them at the same time, but you will have to lie on your back in order to keep an onion half over each ear.

Echinacea & Calendula​

Echinacea and calendula tea or tincture is a good supplement to the garlic oil and onion remedies because it helps with fever symptoms, but it is not particularly strong. If you are still exhibiting symptoms after 2-3 days, seek a guided herbal consultation for stronger remedies, or seek medical help.

Ear Candling/Ear Coning


If the previous strategies are not resolving the ear issues, you can try ear candling/coning. It is often helpful if you have dense, hard wax buildup or when you have signs of infection (pain, redness, swelling, drainage from the ear toward the outside or down the back of the throat, or dizziness). Coning/candling the ears and following it with garlic/mullein oil will very gently remove wax build-up as well as waste products from the infection and dead skin cells. It is also a very soothing, painless process. You can find numerous videos of the process online. 

  • It is best to support yourself to lie on your side during the process and have someone else manage the candle; self-candling can be dangerous and reduces the effectiveness of the process by causing tight neck, jaw and facial muscles. 

  • Massage the ears, face, neck, cranium towards the opening of the ear with cold-pressed castor oil during the coning process. The oil and the massage help the tissues release debris. 

  • After you have completed the coning/candling process, gently clear out the opening of the ear with a cotton swab and drop 10-15 drops of the garlic/mullein ear oil in the ear. Cover the ear opening with a cotton ball for at least an hour. 

  • Don’t get any water or strong wind in the ears for 24 hours after the procedure to protect the ears so they can recover from the cleaning. If you shower/bathe insert a piece of cotton ball in the ear beforehand


Coning Works ™ is a high quality brand which we have used successfully for many years.

The Following is a good example of an ear coning video, just make sure to tie your hair back!

Oil Pulling

This is an age-old tool from the Ayurvedic healing tradition that gently suctions fluid out of the eustachian tubes of the ears as you swish oil in your mouth.  It can clear the muffled, aching quality in the ear if it is due to inflammation and mucus accumulation in those tubes. It is also a natural way to whiten teeth as it cleans and nourishes the gums and removes debris from under the gums, between the teeth, and around bridges or other dental treatments.


Directions: Swish about a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for 10-15 minutes. Spit the oil into the trash; it will cause problems with your plumbing if you spit in the sink.

Dizziness: BPPV and the Epley Maneuver

Dizziness can be a symptom of head trauma. If you’ve sustained a head injury go to the emergency room.

If you are not dealing with a head injury and have dizziness, often the cause is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). Treatment with the Epley Maneuver can be done at home if you don’t have access to an Ear-Nose-Throat physician and their trained technicians.  


The following video explains how it works and gives instructions for doing it yourself at home. The Epley Maneuver is one of the most effective treatments for dizziness which is associated with loose “crystals” from the hairs in the ears, falls/blows and age-related dizziness.


If these strategies don’t work, there are herbs which can be very helpful but you need the help of a trained herbalist to find the right combination for your overall health and specific symptoms.

Ear Care for Babies

Babies are especially vulnerable to inflamed ears because their necks are compact and their eustachian tubes (ear passages) are very narrow.  It can be the source of misery for them and their caretakers. Once the eustachian tubes are open, a healthy baby generally has tremendous pain relief, and the body can fight off an infection with a nap.

To help a baby who is tugging at their ears and fussing:

  • Prepare a cup of elderberry tea and/or calendula and echinacea tea. For babies, immune system support with elderberry (4x a day) is often enough to clear up an ear infection. 

  • Have the mother drink the tea and/or give the baby a few dropperfuls of tea directly into their mouth while they nurse.  

  • Moist heat loosens anything trapped in the eustachian tubes and nursing creates a gentle suction that moves it out. Hold a warm, moist washcloth over the baby’s ears and neck during this process. Make sure you switch sides and treat both ears even though it may seem only one side is the problem.

If moist heat with tea and nursing doesn’t solve the problem, a few drops of the garlic/mullein/oil can be put in the ears (make sure it is warmed but not hot).

A steamed onion held over the baby’s ear while the baby is nursing also works well.
Continue these strategies hourly when a baby is very fussy. Once crying subsides, do them 3-6x a day until you are sure the ears are completely clear. This will help drain the eustachian tubes and clear the infection within 24-72 hours

If these remedies don’t work and the discomfort doesn’t resolve, it is best to consult a trained herbalist or a pediatrician.

Notes on Ear Infection in Babies:  

For bottle-fed babies:
These strategies work well for bottle-fed babies, but are often less effective than for nursing babies because the suction from nursing is what helps clear out the eustachian tubes. Nursing requires stronger suction than drinking from a bottle.  

Many ear infections are caused by allergic responses to the components of baby formulas:  If your baby is bottle-fed and having recurring ear pain, switching to a different formula can often solve the problem.

Emergencies:  Sustained high fever (above 100oF),  dry, red and flushed skin, repeated vomiting, and unrelenting crying are all signs of a medical emergency with a baby and you should not attempt to use these remedies alone. Take your baby to the urgent care or emergency room, as babies can develop severe systemic infection very quickly. Continue using the moist heat, oil, tea, and nursing until medical attention can be started.


Allergies often underlie inflammation, fluid retention and itching in the ears. 

Dental Care

Sometimes an ear infection is a symptom of a problem with the teeth — Abscesses or cavities can cause ear and neck pain. 

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