Essential Oils for Earache
Ear pain can occur for different reasons, including infection and injury. The type of ear infection reported most frequently in the United States is called otitis media; commonly found in young children. This type of infection affects the middle ear by blocking the eustachian tube, which is normally used to drain fluid created in the middle ear. When the fluid becomes trapped between ear and throat, pain, fever, and hearing loss may ensue.6 Another type of ear infection, otitis externa, affects the outer auditory canal, and causes painful inflammation in the tissues there. Essential oils have been used in folk medicine for thousands of years, and many have reported antifungal, antinociceptive (pain blocking), or anti-inflammatory qualities. In fact, some essential oils are said to work as well as pharmaceutical anaesthetics in cases of acute otitis media (middle ear infections).4 In a 2001 study, which tested a natural essential oil for ear infection remedy against a commercial ear drop, researchers found that participants felt the same relief from a mixture of essential oils as they did the pharmaceutical medication.4 This data presented future support for the use of essential oils as home remedies for earache.
What Essential Oil is Good for Earaches?
Essential oils work well as a home remedy for ear infection due to the natural healing properties they possess. For a closer look at the top essential oils for earache relief, and how they work, read on below.
Tea Tree Oil for Ear Infection
Tea tree essential oil has proven itself as one of many home remedies for ear pain due to its anti-bacterial quality and potential as an anti-pseudomonal (infection fighting agent). In a 2005 study published in The Journal of Laryngology & Otology, tea tree essential oil was tested against swabs from 52 patients and was successful in combating 71% of bacteria and yeast found in cases of otitis externa (external ear infection), with another 25% of bacteria showing sensitivity to its usage.1 To relieve the pain from an infection in the outer canal of the ear, create a mixture of 2 drops of tea tree essential oil and 4 drops of a warmed carrier oil, such as jojoba or coconut. Saturate a cotton ball in the liquid and hold it to the opening of your ear. Do not put the cotton ball into the ear canal, but rather hold it against the opening, so that the oils can soak into the surrounding tissue. Hold the ball in place for one minute, remove and discard; the oil left on the rim of your ear canal will help to ease discomfort cause by inflammation.
Orange Essential Oil to Prevent Ear Pain
Orange essential oil is known to have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, which work to diminish pain in cases of acute otitis externa. An animal study published in 2011 found that orange essential oils taken orally, diminished oxidative pain in test subjects suffering from external ear infections.3 You should never ingest natural ear infection remedies, unless under the instruction of a physician, but the results of the study have provided insight for future treatment options. In fact, a study which was published the following year in the Journal of Applied Microbiology discovered that the antimicrobial characteristic of cold pressed Valencia orange essential oil could halt the growth of a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that can lead to ear infections and is increasingly becoming resistant to antibiotics.7 A blend of 2 drops of orange essential oil and 4 drops of a carrier oil, such as olive oil, can be massaged into the external tissue of the ear gently to relieve ear pain. Warm the carrier oil by submersing a covered container of the liquid in warm water for 5 minutes before mixing, for a more relaxing effect.
Basil Essential Oil for Middle Ear Infection
Another essential oil for earache is basil, which was tested in a 2005 animal study on test subjects who had developed acute otitis media. When basil essential oil was applied to the external ear canal, 81% of the subjects were cured, while only 6% began healing after a placebo application. Researchers determined that it was the antimicrobial quality of basil essential oil which made it one of the most useful natural ear infection remedies.2 Like other essential oils for fluid in ears, basil essential oil should only be applied to the external portion of the ear. Try 2 drops of basil essential oil mixed with 4 drops of sweet almond oil, and use the cotton ball or massage method to rub it around the outer rim of the ear canal for relief from ear pain.
Chamomile Oil for External Ear Pain
In a 2016 study, chamomile essential oil was examined for its antimicrobial and antioxidant qualities. What researchers found was that the chamomile essential oil was effective in battling 3 strains of the bacteria S. Aureus, which is useful in the treatment of external ear infections.5 To capture the antimicrobial qualities of this earache essential oil, combine 1 drop of chamomile essential oil, 1 drop of tea tree essential oil and 4 drops of carrier oil. Submersing a cotton ball in the mixture and apply to the external part of the ear. Remember to only use these essential oils for clogged ears on the outer rim of the ear canal. Note: If you experience skin irritation where essential oil earache remedies are applied, stop application immediately and consult a medical professional. You should never ingest essential oil, or insert it directly into the ear canal without the direction of a physician. Remember to always dilute essential oil with a carrier oil before using on the skin.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Farnan T. B., McCallum J., Awa A. & Khan A. D. (2006). Tea tree oil: in vitro efficacy in otitis externa. The Journal of Laryngology & Otology, 119(3), 198-201. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1258/0022215053561495
- Kristinsson K. G., Magnusdottir A. B., Peterson H. & Hermansson A. (2005). Effective treatment of experimental acute otitis media by application of volatile fluids into the ear canal. J Infect. Dis. 191(11), 1876-1880. DOI:1086/430003
- Lv Y. X., Zhao S. P., Zhang H., Xie Z. H., Cai G. M. & Jiang W. H. (2012). Effect of orange peel essential oil on oxidative stress in AOM animals. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 50(4), 1144-1150. org/10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2012.02.002
- Sarrell E. M., Mandelberg A. & Cohen H. A. (2001) Efficacy of neuropathic extracts in the management of ear pain associated with acute otitis media. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 155(7), 796-799. doi:10.1001/archpedi.155.7.796
- Donia A. E. M., Alam A., Nour Y. S. & Radwan A. M. (2016). Evaluation of antimicrobial ad antioxidant activities of Matricaria recutita, Ricinus communis and Zygophyllum coccineum extracts. Bulletin of Environment: Pharmacology and Life Sciences, 5(7), 30-33. Retrieved on April 27th, 2017 from http://bepls.com/bepls_june2016/8f.pdf
- Kaneshiro N. & Zieve D. (2015). Ear Infection Acute. University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved on April 28, 2017 from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/ear-infection-acute – View reference
- Muthaiyan A., Martin E. M., Natesan S., Crandall P. G., Wilkinson B. J. & Ricke S. J. (2012) Antimicrobial effect and mode of action of terpeneless cold-pressed Valencia orange essential oil on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Journal of Applied Microbiology 112(5), 1020-1033. DOI: 1111/j.1365-2672.2012.05270.x