A few months ago I began to feel the well-known sharp pain deep in my inner ear that indicated an ear infection was coming on. To add to the discomfort, I was experiencing pain in not just one, but both ears. I've been getting ear infections since I was a baby, so I know the feeling all too well.
Since I don’t take antibiotics anymore after learning about their harmful effects (I’ll save those details for another post), I decided to take the natural healing route. It’s important to note here that antibiotics do not cure infections themselves. Antibiotics help the body when it has become overwhelmed by reducing the amount of bacteria to the point where the body can then use its innate healing abilities to remove the rest of the bad stuff. I believe there’s a time and place for antibiotics, and a simple ear infection (or in my case, infections) is not it. I knew that if I gave my body what it needed, it would take care of the rest for me, with no harmful side effects.
First, I began thinking about what had caused this infection to come on at this particular time. It had been pretty cold in Amsterdam the last few days, and particularly windy. I began to notice the pain when I was walking back to the car after going out to lunch with a friend. I did a little research and learned that the ear canal can become dried out in cold weather, just like the nasal passages do. This leaves the inner ear susceptible to all kinds of microbes; bacteria, viruses, and fungi included.
I then remembered an Ayurvedic technique I had heard about called nasya, also known as “ear oil.” Ayurveda is a 5,000+ year old form of medicine from India and is the world’s oldest known method of healing. The process of nasya is simple, and really makes a lot of sense when you think about it logically.
Ear oil involves two simple household ingredients: olive oil and garlic. The olive oil is used to lubricate the ear canal, and the garlic, one of nature’s best anti-everything cures, is used to kill any unwanted infections. I figured I’d give it a go.
There are two ways to make the ear oil. The first is useful when you first notice a possible infection coming on because it’s really quick to make, but doesn’t keep as long. The second can be made in advance and keeps longer, for those times you feel you may need to use it in the future (i.e. after swimming a lot in the summer or during a ski trip).
Option #1 (for quick use):
- Place 1/2 cup of olive oil in a pot with 2 cloves of crushed garlic. Slowly heat the oil, with the burner on low heat. You’ll begin to hear the garlic pop and see it sizzling. Allow this to continue for a minute, then remove the pot from the heat.
- After the oil has cooled down to room temperature, use a cotton swab to put the oil into your ears. You may also use a dropper, putting 3 drops into the ear, 3 times per day until healed. NEVER PUT HOT OIL INTO YOUR EARS! You can store this mixture in a glass bottle for a few days.
- After putting the oil in your ear canal, move the external part of your ear around clockwise and counter-clockwise to make sure the oil goes all the way in. Try to keep the oil in the ear as long as possible for maximum benefits. It may help to place a piece of a cotton ball into the ear to keep the oil from leaking out.
Option #2 (for longer term use):
- Using a glass bottle that can be sealed well, fill the bottle with olive oil and 2 cloves of crushed garlic per ½ cup of oil. Store in a cool, dry place for one week. This will keep for two weeks.
- Follow above instructions to put the oil into the ear.
Please note that ear oil is not to be used if you have blood or pus coming from the ears, or if you think you may have a ruptured ear drum. See your physician first if you have any doubts.
So, while I felt a bit odd with cotton balls sticking out of my ears and a slight garlic-y odor every time I turned my head, my ears felt soothed as soon as I put in the oil. I used a dropper to put in 3 drops in each ear, 3 times total over a 24 hour period. Two days later, the pain was completely gone! Those Ayurvedic doctors really did know what they were doing :)