Using fresh garlic for ear problems

Earache, glue ear, otitis media (ear infections), hearing loss through catarrh or earwax build and even perforated eardrums can all benefit from applications of fresh garlic. The volatile oils in the garlic are truly adept at helping to shift infections, thin catarrhal fluids, speed up tissue repair, ease pressure and help the body to speed up the healing process.

One tried and tested method is to put some drops of garlic infused oil into the affected ear. Pour a little vegetable oil (I prefer cold pressed olive oil but you can use anything you have to hand) into an eggcup and crush a large clove or 2 of fresh garlic, adding it to the oil. Cover it and put it somewhere out of direct sunlight for several hours to allow the garlic to infuse into the oil. When you are ready, strain out the garlic pieces and you should have a small batch of garlic smelling oil. You can warm this gently if needed to make it runnier.

Use a pipette or a piece of clean cloth or cotton wool to drop several drops of oil into the ear. Tilt the head to one side (bad ear facing up) to make this process easier. I keep adding drops until I can see the oil almost filling the ear canal then plug the ear very gently with some cotton wool. This is ideally done just before bedtime and can be left in overnight. Remove the cotton wool plug next morning. You can rinse the ear clean with a little cooled boiled water if you want to but this isn’t needed, just a wipe round the ear hole is usually enough. Repeat the next night if necessary, using a freshly made batch of garlic oil. I wouldn’t suggest using this method if you know or suspect that the eardrum is perforated.

Another method is to put a piece of fresh garlic directly into the ear. For this you need to choose a clove of garlic and shave one end to a rounded point using a knife (this cut end goes into the ear). This enables the essential oils to penetrate the ear more readily. Make sure the uncut end (the end that will stick out) is fairly fat to enable easy removal. Place the cut end into the ear and leave overnight or for a few hours. Be aware that the clove of garlic often falls out at some point during the night and turns up somewhere in the bed. Repeat daily as needed with a fresh clove. This is a safer method if the eardrum is perforated as there is no direct contact with the drum but remove the garlic regularly to allow any fluids coming from the ear to drain out. Sometimes the patient (especially children) will complain that the fresh garlic stings. If this is the case, remove and dip the clove in some olive oil before reinserting. The oil acts as a soothing barrier to protect delicate ear passages.

I have used both methods many times over the years on my children, friends, family and private clients, generally with excellent results. However, one incident stays in my mind………I suggested the whole garlic method to a friend as they didn’t want the hassle of making up the oil. Her one ear was painful due to a heavy head cold. She shaved a piece of garlic, put it in her ear and went to bed. The next day she tried to remove it but as she tried to grasp the slippery little clove, it slipped further into her ear. She asked her partner to help and he also managed to push it further into the ear. Eventually, and in a bit of a panic, she turned up unannounced at her local doctors surgery and whispered to the receptionist that she urgently needed to see a nurse or doctor and explained the situation. She was ushered into a room and a nurse promptly plucked it from her ear with a blunt ended tweezers. She left the surgery relieved and somewhat embarrassed by her ordeal but gave the staff of the doctor’s surgery a good laugh and an amusing story to tell!

The lesson of this tale is to select a large piece of garlic and shave one end only and place (don’t push too far) the garlic into the ear very gently and ensure that a large enough portion is sticking out from the ear. If you are concerned, try wrapping the prepared clove in a very thin piece of cloth (clean of course) such as muslin or similar, place the wrapped cut end of the clove in the ear then twist the fabric that is sticking out of the ear so you have a kind of handle to grab hold of.



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