When my fiancé was a young child, he was plagued with recurring ear infections so bad that his eardrums were lanced 9 times in 11 months around the age of 4. One time, his right eardrum burst because he had been left in the care of his uncle, who did not heed his childish cries to take him to the hospital until blood was pouring out of his ear. So his hearing is bad in his left ear, and much worse in his right.
His earaches could have been stopped at the mild stage—or even later—if his mother had known to put oil in the ear and plug it with a cotton ball. My mother used “sweet oil,” which I believe is almond oil, on nine children and never had to take an earache to the doctor. I used garlic oil on my children when their ears ached. But his mother didn’t know it, and waited until it was an emergency to take him to a doctor, something that happens way too often to too many children.
I got the idea for using garlic oil from a letter in Mother Earth News, at a time when I happened to have a bad earache. That writer squeezed garlic oil and vitamin E capsules in the ear; I decided to make garlic oil by the same recipe as for Oil of St. John’s Wort, which I got from the Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable, by Juliet De Baircli Levi (Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pennsylvania, 1976). (She uses garlic extensively, but not in oil.) Once I dropped the warm oil into my ear and plugged it, the pain was gone within an hour; the infection within a few days.
Since then, I’ve found garlic oil useful as a topical antibiotic on scratches, scrapes, wounds, and road rash; and as an internal antibiotic in dogs and cats, clearing up colds and distemper. Garlic oil in the ear can fight an infection anywhere on that side of the head, including teeth and sinus infections.
For toothaches, I use it in concert with a piece of cabbage on the nearest cheek, held in place with an elastic bandage. Tooth infections are stubborn; the pain will go away quickly with cabbage and garlic oil, but it takes most of two weeks to kill the infection. In the end, however, the only cure for a bad tooth is to fix it or remove it.
Some people are allergic to garlic oil in the ear, and a sensitivity can develop. This happened to my elder daughter, who found that Oil of St. John’s Wort was still effective. If you use garlic oil in you ear and it hurts more, clean it out with a Q-tip and use something else. Sweet oil works simply because it stops cold air from irritating inflamed tissues, and the warmth also kills germs.
To make garlic oil: peel some cloves of garlic; slice them up; put them in a small jar; and cover them with olive oil. Place the jar in a pan of hot water and heat it to a low simmer; allow it to simmer for ½ hour; remove from the water bath and let it cool; drain the oil off the garlic and bottle some in a dropper bottle for easy use.
Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener 541-955-9040 firstname.lastname@example.org