Ear Infection Remedy

A traditional ear infection remedy is to put a half of a warm on onion over your child’s ear, or to put a few drops of onion juice into the ear.
This makes a lot of sense when you consider the  properties of onions.  They contain the same strong  antibiotic/ antiviral, and anti-fungal ingredient found in garlic, called allicin.  But onions also contain a larger dose of a natural anti-inflammatory than garlic, which explains why they are preferred over garlic for ear and chest/congestion complaints.
There seem to be two different forms of ear infections:

  • One is the result of fluid behind the ear drum, which is often associated with a runny nose and cold symptoms. The pain is from the pressure on the ear drum.
  • The other is an inflammation of the ear canal, often called “swimmers ear”.  This also strikes suddenly, but often after swimming or bathing, and without the usual cold symptoms.

I have had good results using half  vinegar and half alcohol at the first sign of swimmers ear.  I actually packed a washed out eye drops bottle of it in our swim bag, and have used it right at the pool several times this summer.

Onion juice is a good traditional ear infection remedy for both kinds of ear infection, in our experience.
I’ve heard of numerous ways to extract onion juice, from grating and squeezing, to using a garlic press.  It’s not an easy task to extract juice, because onions usually aren’t really all that ‘juicy’, and you don’t want pulp going down into the ear.

Here is my solution…the easy ear infection remedy that I just used tonight, when my daughter was complaining of ear pain.

Onion Juice Ear Infection Remedy:

First, I checked her ear, and made sure that the eardrum was intact…the ear canal looked red and swollen.

So, I cut the root end off of an onion.  Then I held the onion on its side.  Using the tip of a spoon, I scraped up the newly cut end until I had several drops of onion juice in the spoon.

…like this.

I had her lay on her side with the hurting ear facing up, and I dripped the juice right into her ear.  She kept her head tipped so the juice would stay in, and covered it with a cotton ball.  In just a few minutes, her pain was gone, and she was able to turn over and go right to sleep.

***Update***  If you’re going to treat one ear, go ahead and treat both.  That would have saved us both some sleep.  I did repeat the remedy the next morning as well, but we have not had to repeat again.

We have used similar remedies before, with great results, but this was
even quicker (and less stinky) than holding a cut onion over the
offending ear.  Onion juice is a very safe remedy, and can be repeated as often as needed when and if the pain returns.

Another Ear Infection Remedy Method:

There is one benefit to using the onion half over the juice:  Sometimes, the feeling of “water” in the ear is a bit traumatic.  If your child is picky about water in their ears, you can also just place half of the onion over their ear.  it’s nice to warm it slightly, but onions heat VERY quickly, so be careful not to over-warm it to the point where it burns.  The vapors of the onion are plenty potent enough to do the job.

A Fantastic Tool for Your Home Remedy Kit

Treating ear pain at home can be nerve wracking, because it’s hard to see what is going on in there.  Last year, I finally broke down and bought an otoscope, which is the little light thingy that Doctors use to look in ears.  It does take a little getting used to it to really understand what you’re looking for and at, but overall, it has been a very worthwhile investment in my first aid kit.

I have used it for ear checks, as well as to inspect sore throats, and other dark and dangerous places where a kid might hide a bean or pea.  This is the one I purchased:

Another nice benefit to owning my own is that my kids are now used to it, and they are not scared at all when they go to the Dr., and he looks in their ears. Which makes check ups much less traumatic.

Please note: never put anything into the ear if you suspect that the ear drum has burst, and/or if you see blood or fluid coming out of the ear.  Please use your own best judgment when using home remedies, and consult your doctor as you deem necessary.  I am just a house-frau, not a doctor. :)

Click here for more ear infection remedy ideas and tips.

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  • KBH

    just wondering, my 4 1/2 year old had her eardrum rupture, and she’s been through the antiboitics (I think the first time she’s had any), but the ENT thinks she’s headed for a tonsilectomy, adenoidectomy, and tubes in both ears (fluid behind eardrum of non-ruptured ear) I loathe the idea, and am curious what you’d do in this case.

    • Its_Gwen

      Oh, yuck…I’m so sorry.

      When I was really little, I got recurrent tonsil infections, and was scheduled for surgery. My Mom heard about using the herb alfalfa for it, and started me on it. My infection cleared up and never returned.

      I’d give that a shot, and also elderberry. Most ear infections are viral, and an immune boosting/anti-viral protocol would be really worth pursuing prior to surgery, IMO.

      Also, elevate the head of her bed, to help drainage move down into the stomach, and away from the ears.

      • Its_Gwen

        The tonsils and adenoids are an important part of the lymphatic and immune system…I’d much rather work on recovery than remove them surgically. I pray that you find a naturally minded practitioner who can help point you in a good direction for her.

        I’ve heard xylitol products can be VERY beneficial for kids who suffer from frequent inner ear infection as well. You may look for more info on that. We use toothpaste and gum/mints that are sweetened 100% with Xylitol.

        • Its_Gwen

          You can also apply garlic presses around the outside of the ear or on the neck/throat when you suspect infection. The garlic and onion remedy posts would be worth reading.

          • KBH

            Thanks for the replies! I ordered and received my otoscope yesterday, and see that the non-ruptured ear still looks red inside. However, her ENT had to cancel her follow-up appointment today, and I am rejoicing over more time to try these natural immune boosting methods!

          • Its_Gwen

            Wonderful! The onion can be cut and just held over the ear…the vapors alone are anti-inflammatory and work really well. It works quickly!

  • Ariana

    I’m definitely going to do this for our baby when need be. I have one question though. How do you prevent the onion from burning the babies eyes?

    • Its_Gwen

      Hi Ariana,
      I’ve never had a problem with that, but I usually use a dropper for the juice for a tiny baby…so baby is usually not with me in the kitchen, and I just carry it in to where they are.

      Once it’s in the ear, it’s fragrant (you’ll suddenly crave Italian food when snuggling your baby) :) But it’s not powerful enough to burn the eyes.

      You can test the juice on the skin first if you’re concerned. I know some people have allergies to garlic, and onion is in the same family. So err on the side of caution for the first try.

  • http://www.rohtopia.com/ Lisa Rohtopia

    Hi Gwen!
    Thanks for this post.
    The photos of how you cut the onion are a great addition to the explanations.
    When researching about home remedies I also read that cooking the onion first would make the juice less stingy – did you experiment with that as well?

    cheers, Lisa

    • Its_Gwen

      Cooking does deactivate the allicin or sulphur compounds, which is the antibiotic portion of the onion. So if that’s of interest to you, then I’d just slightly warm it. The anti-inflammtory component is still active even after heating, though.

      • http://www.rohtopia.com/ Lisa | Rohtopia ☼☆☮●•

        Ah great to know thank you!

  • Heavenly5

    Can I use the onion again after the 1st use?

    • Its_Gwen

      Onions & garlic both produce allicin (the potent antibacterial/antifungal) in an enzyme process that starts when you cut or crush the whole clove or onion. The process eventually degrades the allicin, and it’s most potent within the first hour of being cut. Time, heat, and acid all speed up the degrading process (so eating raw garlic isn’t as effective). So if you’re after the antibacterial aspect of either of them, use freshly cut each time. But I do pass it from one kid to the next when we’re fighting something. :)

      With onions, there is also a powerful anti-inflammatory component that does NOT degrade, even in cooking. So you MAY continue to use it if you’re mainly wanting that portion of the remedy.

  • Ann Varghese

    Hi there. My 2.5 year old daughter who has been super healthy since birth got a cold this past Oct and has been severely congestions since, has had three ear infections and the doctor is recommending tubes, tonsils and adenoids out. I have tried saline, nasonex, allergy meds, vitamin c, d, kyolic garlic (liquid), steam inhalation. She still has fluid in her ears… I am wondering would this onion remedy help or is it just for actual infections?

    • Its_Gwen

      It’s my understanding that the onion addresses inflammation and microbial growth. In this case, it sounds like she’s got a chronic issue. Have you looked at the use of Xylitol for recurrent infection? That would be worth looking into for her.

      Lymph massage may also be a good direction to look at, as well as propping her pillow at night so all fluid drains down and doesn’t pool in her inner ears..

      Personally, I would get a second opinion on removing the tonsils/adenoids, as they are important components of the immune system.
      When I was a child, I also had repeated tonsil infections and was scheduled to have surgery to remove them. My Mom tried giving me alfalfa on the recommendation of a friend, and my infections cleared up completely and I never had the surgery. So it’s possible to recover. :)

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