The Pathology of Ear Infections
Earaches occur most commonly in children precisely because their Eustachian tubes are small and underdeveloped, making them more prone to otitis media or middle ear infections. By the age of 7, some 93% of all children have had a diagnosed episode of otitis media. It’s the most common reason for which a child is seen in a doctor’s office. A bacterial middle ear infection tends to be a self-limiting ailment, and in 80 percent of children it clears up without the administration of antibiotics. Indeed, there is very little evidence that the prescription of antibiotics for middle ear infection leads to a shorter duration of symptoms, fewer recurring infections, or even better well being in the long run. Nonetheless, the tendency of medical practitioners has been to over-treat the condition at an early stage and prescribe antibiotics as a way of tackling the immediately painful issue of earache. Not only are antibiotics an unnecessary and ineffective solution, they are not wise either in our day and age, when antibiotic resistance has become an ever darker cloud hovering over the practice of modern medicine. These days, the avoidance of antibiotics early in life, wherever possible, stands to benefit both the individual and the community.
Of all the products we sell, our Ear Oil is easily one of the best acknowledged and effective natural alternatives as compared to a therapeutic approach based on pharmaceuticals. Comprised of four classic Western herbs and macerated in extra-virgin olive oil, ours is a formula specifically intended for topical use in the ear as an analgesic for the symptomatic relief of pain associated not only with acute otitis media (middle ear infections) but also otitis externa (outer ear infections, sometimes known as swimmer’s ear, a common summer ailment).
Antiseptic Properties of the Ingredients
Garlic is rich in antioxidant sulfur compounds, polyphenols, and carotenoids that give it therapeutic effectiveness. Its sulfur compounds, including allicin, offer antimicrobial protection, as well as being anti-inflammatory. A recent study demonstrates that allicin is bactericidal and inhibits the Burkholderia cepacia complex, a highly noxious and potentially fatal gram negative human pathogen that has shown resistance to antibiotics. The study concludes, moreover, that substances containing allicin deserve to be investigated further as an adjunct to antibiotic treatment.
Researchers have noted that mullein is active against several strains of bacteria, including Klebsiella pneumonia, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Escherichia coli.
For its part, St. John’s wort (SJW) demonstrates a range of antiseptic action against both gram positive and gram negative bacteria both in the form of a dermal cream or ointment and as a liquid extract.
Similarly, calendula has been shown to be effectively antimicrobial against a range of clinical pathogens.
Eclectic physicians—medical doctors of the 19th and early 20thcenturies who tended to rely on herbs and derived much of their knowledge from native lore and usage-- extolled the anodynal properties of mullein. In our own day, researchers have found that verbascoside, a phenylethanoid glycoside found in mullein, has anti-inflammatory as well as wound-healing qualities.
An in-vivo trial conducted in 2004 determined that SJW has “profound analgesic activity”, twice the analgesic effect, in fact, of ibuprofen. Furthermore, in contrast to ibuprofen, analgesia resulted from both central and peripheral actions. The herb’s action on peripheral afferent nerves resembled the analgesia effected by ASA or ibuprofen, whereas its centrally-acting analgesia was more akin to that of the narcotic analgesics. Note that doses of an extract (0.3% Hypericin and 5% Hyperforin) were administered intraperitoneally at 30, 70 and 100 mg per kg. Compared to controls, percentage reduction in pain was highly significant (p<0.001) at all doses tested. Positive control (ibuprofen) was significant (p<0.01) at 100 mg/kg. Preclinical animal studies show that even low doses of dry extracts of SJW can promote antinociception and relief from acute and chronic hyperalgesia, besides improving opioid analgesia.
Calendula’s anti-inflammatory and wound-healing qualities are well-known and well-attested. Historically, the Eclectics and others used this herb externally to treat burns, bruises, and cuts. It is a remedy, moreover, that practitioners often resort to for eczema and inflamed skin (dermatitis). Calendula’s anti-inflammatory action is attributable to its constituent triterpenes and has been shown in some cases to exceed the effects of indomethacin.
A study involving the use of an olive oil extract of the flowering aerial parts of SJW for excision and incision wounds found a notable wound-healing effectiveness. In the wake of a further study that incorporated three in vivo experimental models (i.e. incision, excision, and thermal burn), researchers concluded similarly that SJW has a significant wound healing effect. Even more remarkably, a recent investigation of the curative role of SJW in a rat model of tympanic membrane perforation found this herb to be a significant factor in leukocyte infiltration, fibroblast proliferation, and subepithelial thickness. Speculation is that the wound-healing qualities of SJW are attributable to the way in which it stimulates the production of fibroblast collagen, as well as its mobilization of fibroblast cells into polygonal shapes that serve to seal off the damaged area.
Proven in Clinical Trial
A clinical trial using a product composed of ingredients identical to ours was compared with a standard pain-relieving drug preparation for the earache associated with acute otitis media. The authors found a statistically significant benefit for pain with both treatments and noted that there was no difference in effectiveness between groups. The same research team reinforced their findings in another trial conducted two years later. After this trial, they offered the further opinion that antibiotics do not change the natural course of a middle ear infection. They also concluded that the main goal of treatment should be the alleviation of ear pain. It is herbal Ear Oil that does this eminently well, because it is the perfect and appropriate topical therapy, one that serves, among other things, to stimulate the immune response. With its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities, moreover, it soothes the tissue around the tympanic membrane or eardrum.
Active Ingredients (per 1 ml)
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus, flower and leaf) 0.263 ml
Calendula (Calendula officinalis, flower) 0.263 ml
Garlic (Allium sativum, clove) 0.263 ml
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum, flower) 0.211 ml
Non-Medicinal Ingredients:Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Contains no:egg, wheat, soy, artificial preservatives, artificial colours, artificial sweeteners
Adults and children:Place 5 drops of oil directly in the external ear canal 3 times daily.
Health Canada Approved Use Claim
Mullein has been used in traditional Western herbalism for earaches.
Cautions and Warnings
Consult a health care practitioner before use: if the eardrum is perforated; if you have a discharge from the ear; if you have changes in hearing; if you are pregnant. Consult a health care practitioner if symptoms worsen or persist.
Contraindications: Do not use if you are allergic to plants of the Asteraceae/Compositae/Daisy family.
Known Adverse Reactions: Hypersensitivity (e.g.allergy) is known to occur, in which case, discontinue use.
Our products are all third party tested to ensure the absence of pesticides, microbes, and heavy metals and to confirm purity and stability.
For more information on infection fighting herbs and products, check out our monograph on Canadian Bitters.
Who is it for
- People suffering from earaches
- Those with recurring middle ear infections
- Of special benefit for children
- Anyone that has an outer ear infection, sometimes known as swimmer’s ear
How it helps
- A topical remedy proven by clinical trials
- A healing combination comparable to antibiotics in effectiveness
- Herbs with antiseptic, analgesic, and antiinflammatory properties
 - Mario Roxas and Julie Jarenka, “Colds and Influenza: A Review of Diagnosis and Conventional, Botanical, and Nutritional Considerations,” Alternative Medicine Review2007; 12(1): 25-48.
 - E Efstratiou et al, “Antimicrobial activity of Calendula officinalis petal extracts against fungi, as well as Gram-negative and Gram-positive clinical pathogens,” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 2012; 18(3): 173-6.
 - M Yasar et al, “Potential Curative Role of Hypericum Perforatum in an Experimental Rat Model of Tympanic Membrane Perforation,” The Journal of International Advanced Otology2016 December; 12(3): 252-256.
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