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6 Effective Essential Oils for Ear Infections

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Ear infections are the worst, aren’t they?   But essential oils for ear infections?  Hear me out and learn how essential oils may be a great complementary method of healing from ear infections or even preventing them!

Most earaches are NOT caused by a bacterial infection, so antibiotics will not help. However, the oils in this post may help with those that are of bacterial origin and viral. As well as the symptoms from an earache, no matter the cause.

Often, an ear infection or earache accompanies a cold or flu.  Not always, though, but these viral upper respiratory infections can lead to fluid buildup in the ear.

image of doctor examining a young woman's ear with text overlay 6 Effective Essential Oils for Ear Infections and how to use them

There are three common types of ear infections:

  • Middle ear infection (acute otitis media)
  • Swimmer’s ear (Outer ear canal infection)
  • Labyrinthitis (An inflamed inner ear as well as the nerves that connect it to the brain)

A common cause of earaches is hardened ear wax build-up.

People often use over-the-counter ear drops to help loosen and soften the wax.  Ear infections can occur due to an overgrowth of bacteria or a virus. 

If you or your child are suffering from an earache, essential oils may be a good choice to reduce the discomfort you are experiencing.

Please note that a persistent earache that doesn’t resolve could indicate an infection or a perforated eardrum.  Always consult with your healthcare provider before using essential oils in the ear area.

There are several ways essential oils for ear infections may help to reduce your symptoms including the pain and swelling that you’re dealing with.

How Can Essential Oils Help for Ear Infections?

Some essential oils have antimicrobial, antiviral or antibacterial properties, which are helpful for fighting off viral and bacterial infections.

Viruses work by taking over the cells in your body. The virus then uses your own cells to make more virus cells. Certain essential oils can help stop that process by preventing the virus from duplicating.

Other types of essential oils work like an antibiotic, helping to kill off harmful strains of bacteria. Different oils work to kill the bacteria in different ways. For example, some can interfere with the cellular processes that give the bacteria energy. This causes the bacteria to starve to death and leave your system.

Let’s look at several of the top essential oils for ear infections.

6 Best Essential Oils for Ear Infections

Tea Tree Essential Oil

This powerful and versatile oil has been used by Australia’s Aboriginal people for thousands of years for a variety of common ailments.  Its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties make it effective at treating wounds and accelerating healing. 

Tea tree oil contains an antibacterial substance called terpinen-4-ol.

A study conducted in 2016, concluded that tea tree oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

As an antiviral, small concentrations of tea tree oil can prevent herpes simplex virus (HSV) from growing in cultured cells.

Studies also point to the protective effect Tea Tree essential oil has against influenza virus.

Several studies have also shown that Tea Tree Oil is an effective antibacterial and have proven effective against E.coli, Staph infections, Klebsiella, Prevotella, Streptococcus, and many other pathogens.

Additionally, another study has shown that, as an antifungal, Tea Tree essential oil may help treat Candida infections by breaking down fungal cells’ membranes. 

Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano essential oil has also been shown to help with ear infections. In fact, it is one of the most frequently used essential oils for earaches in our family.

A study conducted in Brazil showed that in vitro tests of oregano oil proved to have antiviral capabilities.

These studies, and others, concluded that the active compounds in oregano – carvacrol and thymol – make this essential oil be one of the most effective and potent natural antibiotics.

These studies confirm that Oregano essential oil’s antibacterial properties enhance the healing process in bacterial infections including antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as E.coli. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology found oregano oil to possess potent antiviral properties against murine norovirus after an hour of exposure.

Adults can take 1 or 2 drops of oregano essential oil in a gel capsule with a small amount of fractionated coconut oil (or other carrier oil, such as olive oil) and taken up to two times per day.

It is not recommended to give children under the age of 12 any orally administered essential oil without first consulting your doctor or a qualified aromatherapist.

Ear infections are the worst, aren’t they?   But essential oils for ear infections?  Hear me out and learn how essential oils may be a great complementary method of healing from ear infections or even preventing them! Click To Tweet

Basil Essential Oil

Basil essential oil for ear infections show promising benefits and results.

Basil essential oil is  well-known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and healing properties due to its high eugenol, linalool, thymol, and carvacrol chemical constituents.

A study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases in 2005 found that placing Basil essential oil in the ear canal provided effective treatment of acute otitis (caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae or Haemophilus influenzae ) in rats.  The study found that the Basil essential oil treatment healed 56-81% of infected rats compared to the placebo group. 

Clove Essential Oil

Clove essential oil is an amazing oil for killing parasites, viruses, fungi, and bacteria.  It can combat E.coli, staph infections, and Candida albicans too. This makes it a wonderful choice for essential oils for ear infections.

Clove essential oil has also been shown to increase white blood cell count while also restoring antibody immunity in mice whose immune systems were compromised.

In a study published in BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine, an essential oil blend containing Clove essential oil was found to protect against the influenza virus by reducing the number of infected cells by 90%.

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil, also known as the “swiss army knife” of essential oils, has long been known to be an effective calming agent and antibacterial oil making it a terrific choice as an essential oil for ear infections.

People of all ages can apply Lavender essential oil to the back side of the ear, behind the lobe, from the soft spot all the way up the bone that runs behind the ear.

It can also be helpful to massage the side of the neck and in front of the ear toward the cheek with Lavender essential oil or one of the other essential oils for ear infections mentioned in this post.

image of bottles of essential oils including lavender, basil, tea tree, oregano, purification and clove, plus woman holding hurting ear, eye dropper and olive oil with text effective essential oils for earaches

Purification Essential Oil

Purification Essential Oil blend, exclusively from Young Living is an AMAZING choice of essential oils for ear infections and earaches that my family has used with great success.  This amazing essential oil blend is a powerhouse essential oil for ear infections and earaches.  It contains six essential oils for the ultimate weapon against infection (and odors, too!): Citronella, Lavandin, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Myrtle, and Tea Tree essential oils.

How to Use Essential Oils for Ear infections

You can use an essential oils for ear infections in a few different ways.

  • You can apply the essential oil directly to the skin, as mentioned above.  Apply your chosen essential oil for ear infection (or blend) behind the ear, on the lobe, down the neck and around the ear area.  Massaging it helps, too. This may help reduce inflammation and pain. If your ear infection is affecting the middle ear, this approach likely won’t bring relief.
  • A second method for applying essential oils for earache relief is to soak a cotton ball in the diluted essential oil, and then place the cotton ball lightly in your ear. This will allow the oils to seep slowly into the ear canal. Be careful not to force the cotton ball into your ear. This can cause the fibers to get trapped and may worsen the infection.
  • Finally, you can dilute 1-2 drops of essential oil in 2-4 drops of a carrier oil, such as warmed olive oil. Make sure the mixture isn’t too hot to the touch. Use a clean dropper to release the oil directly into your ear canal. Keep your head tilted diagonally with the uninfected ear approaching your shoulder and infected ear facing the sky. After a minute, resume your normal stance and allow the oil to drip out naturally. Wipe the oil away with a clean cloth.

Ear Pain Eradicator Blend

  • 1 drop Tea Tree essential oil
  • 1 drop Oregano essential oil
  • 1 drop Basil essential oil 
  • 2 drops Lavender essential oil 
  • 2 teaspoons of carrier oil 

Mix essential oils together then add carrier oil. Use one of the application methods listed above for relief from earaches and ear infections.

Risks and Warnings When Using Essential Oils for Ear Infections and Earaches

Applying undiluted essential oil to the skin can cause irritation. Make sure you test your diluted essential oil on a small area of skin before applying the mixture in or around your ear when using essential oils for earaches.

You shouldn’t use any essential oils for ear infections if your eardrum has ruptured. (See next section)

If you use more than 1-2 drops of essential oil at a time, you may cause your ear to become clogged. It’s best to do one treatment, wait a few hours to assess the state of your ear, and repeat it if necessary.

Children, women who are breast-feeding, and women who are pregnant should exercise caution when using essential oils.

When to Seek Professional Care

While most earaches will go away in a few days, maybe quicker when using essential oils for ear infections (or other home remedies, as listed below), if you aren’t getting better or your symptoms worsen in 24 to 48 hours, you’ll want to reach out to your doctor or visit an Urgent Care Center.

Other reasons to seek medical advice include:

  • Pus-like fluid or blood oozing from the ear
  • A high fever (for children, a temperature over 100.4 degrees)
  • Severe headache or dizziness
  • Swelling behind the ear (especially if you’re experiencing facial weakness)
  • An object might be stuck in your ear and needs to be removed
  • Severe ear pain that suddenly stops (which could be a sign of a ruptured eardrum)

Other All-Natural Remedies for Ear Infections and Earaches

Depending on the cause of your earache, certain methods will be more effective at providing relief than others.  Consider these alternative methods alongside using essential oils for ear infections:

Steam –Steam from a humidifier, shower or bath can have the same effect as a warm compress. It helps to open and relax airways, thus reducing ear pressure and easing pain.

Sleeping Upright – Ear discomfort from viral infections is often the result of fluid buildup in the middle ear. Draining this fluid can help to relieve pain. Rather than sleeping lying down, try sleeping in an upright position, either propped up with a couple pillows or in an armchair that’s reclined a bit.  

Gargling with Saltwater – An earache is sometimes associated with a sore throat and gargling with saltwater can help ease your symptoms. Simply mix a 1 to 5 ratio of salt to warm water, then gargle, spit out, and repeat. If you have a sore throat, warm liquids like honey and lemon tea or a broth soup can provide some relief.  You can repeat this up to four times daily.

Onion – For centuries, moms have sworn by the curative power of onions. While there is no scientific evidence behind their effectiveness, onions do contain chemicals, like flavonoid quercetin, that have anti-inflammatory properties which can help with ear swelling. To help heal an earache, place a couple drops of onion juice in the affected ear or half of an onion on top of the affected ear.  My former mother-in-law used to cook up onions in a pan and place them over my ear, holding it in place with a dishtowel.  It really worked well!

Hydrogen Peroxide Mixture –To get rid of water trapped in the ear, (i.e.: swimmer’s ear) you can make hydrogen peroxide earache drops from a 1 to 1 ratio of peroxide to water and use a dropper to put the liquid into your ear. This helps to provide earache relief by drying out the ear and getting rid of excess moisture. 

Chewing Gum –Chewing gum can help to “pop” your ears and help to reduce any pain or pressure you’re experiencing.

Essential oils aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so it’s important to do your research. You should only purchase products from a trusted manufacturer.  I choose, after extensive research, to purchase my essential oils from Young Living. 

Their Seed-to-Seal commitment ensures that I am purchasing only the highest quality oils with 100% purity.

Have you tried to use essential oils for ear infections or earaches?  What was your result?  What other home remedies have you tried?

You may enjoy this video by Dr. Eric Berg DC on the benefits of Oregano oil, included in this post:

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