Garlic for Ear Infections

As I discussed in this recent post on Ear Infections – Prevent and Treat Ear Infections Naturally, ear infections are extremely common in children. 3 out of 4 children will suffer at least one before their third birthday.

They are the most prevalent complaint that lands children at the doctor’s surgery, and the most common reason for prescribed antibiotics.

Yet the NHS website states that the routine use of antibiotics to treat middle ear infections is not recommended.


Firstly, there’s no evidence they speed up the healing process.

Secondly, ear infections are often caused by viruses, which antibiotics are completely ineffective against.

Thirdly, there’s growing superbug resistance to antibiotics. We need to save these wonder drugs for when we truly need them!

Why might an ear infection occur?

An ear infection can occur for many reasons.

It could be caused by: a cold, flu, allergies, bacteria, dust or a viral presence in the ear.

If you’d like to learn how to prevent an ear infection for starting to begin with, please click here.

If you’re at the stage where there’s a little ear pain, and you think an ear infection is already on the way, please read on.

Nature has give us a wonderful tool for treating ear infections…..


Garlic has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.

It contains allicin, an anti-microbial that works like an antiseptic against an infection.

It also helps to reduce ear swelling and pain due to it’s this powerful compound which contains anti-inflammatory properties.

It’s easily absorbed through the skin and surrounding tissues.

But is there any evidence?

We know that when garlic is eaten it can help boost your immune system to fight an infection.

But what about topically?

One study of 103 children with ear pain from middle ear infections, found that naturopathic ear drops containing garlic and other herbal ingredients were just as effective at managing ear pain as over-the-counter anaesthetic ear drops.

Another study on 171 children with ear pain, found that herbal ear drops containing garlic may be more effective than anaesthetic ear drops to treat ear pain in children.

You can purchase ready made garlic oil that is specific for this purpose. However, ear infections, especially in children, tend to come on suddenly and there may not be time to buy some before the infection gets worse.

Fortunately, making your own is incredibly easy!

Homemade Garlic Oil Recipe

  • 1 clove organic garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive

Sterilise a small glace dish and a knife. Slice the garlic with olive oil into the glass dish. I use a ramekin, an egg cup would do the job too.

NB/ Some recipes on the net say to mince the garlic, but I find that it’s easier to strain and get all the garlic out of the oil if you slice.

Allow the garlic to steep in the olive oil to release the allicin – and with it all the lovely healing properties for around 2-3 hours. Again, some recipes say to heat the oil, but as a herbalist I see the benefit of retaining the potency of raw garlic. Always use olive oil, as it has many amazing healing properties of it’s own and is incredibly soothing.

Finally, using a sterilized sieve, strain the oil making sure all the pieces are out.

Get your child to lie down on the bed or sofa, with the ear you want to treat facing upwards. You may want to place a towel under them in case there’s spillage.

Using a medicinal dropper, drop 2 or 3 drops into the infected ear. Place some cotton wool over the ear and get your child to stay in this position for 10-15 minutes. I tend to put the telly on, or read a story. You can massage gently around the ear to help the garlic oil work its way down if your child will let you.

If you’re treating both ears, repeat the above steps on the other side.

You can use the drops up to 4 times a day until the infection has cleared. Keep the garlic oil in the fridge. Warm (with your hands around the glass dish) to room temperature before placing in the ear.


Some parents are concerned about putting garlic oil directly into the ear, or they think that their child is too young or agitated to lie still for 10-15 minutes.

As a mum myself, I hear these concerns.

In these instances, I recommend saturating one end of a cotton ball (not cotton bud or tip – never use these) with the oil and simply place it gently into the ear. Do not push it in deeply, simply enough so it doesn’t fall out. I have been known to place a plaster (band-aid) over the cotton wool to keep it in place. The garlic oil will seep into the surrounding tissue and do its job.

You could also put a warm heating pad or hot water bottle over the ear. The warmth soothes pain and helps the oil diffuse gently into the ear.


Do not put anything in the ear if the ear drum is ruptured, or you see fluid or blood draining out.

What is an ruptured (peforated) ear drum?

During an ear infection, fluid accumulates behind the eardrum. The pressure from fluid build up can cause the membrane of the ear drum to break.

Speaking from personal experience as a chronic ear infection sufferer when I was a child, it can be excruciatingly painful.

Garlic oil is a good first aid remedy to use for ear pain. It is not a remedy to use once an ear drum has ruptured.

If an ear infection is not on the mend in 3 days or is getting worse, always consult your doctor.

If you’re child gets repeated (chronic) ear infections or glue ear, you may want to look into an underlying cause. Some suggestions for that here.

Have you experience with ear infections? Possibly a natural remedy that you use? I’d love to hear about it. Please leave comments below or email me directly.

Thanks for reading!

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