Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Garlic and Mullein Ear Oil

When I decided to start taking a more natural approach to our health, this was one of the first items I learned to make.  

As a child, I suffered from chronic ear infections and I remembered my mom using Sweet Oil in my ears because it always seemed to take the pain away.  As I begun researching Sweet Oil, I came across articles about using garlic ear drops instead.  I was immediately sold for no other reason than I always have fresh garlic on hand which meant that when late night ear pain hit, I wouldn't have to worry about whether or not I had forgotten that I ran out of Sweet Oil at some point.

Before we jump into the recipe itself, lets talk about the ingredients a bit.

Garlic - Garlic is a part of our everyday lives.  We eat it in all manner of foods and those of us who know the healing ability of this food make a concerted effort to consume even more of it than most folks.  Garlics is said to be antimicrobial, antibiotic, antifungal, and immune-stimulant, anti-oxidant, diaphoretic, cholagogue, hypotensive, antispasmodic, anthelmintic, expectorant, anti-thrombotic and anti-diabetic.  According to Practical Herbalism by Philip Fritchey, "In laboratory studies, Garlic has been shown to have direct anti-microbial actions equivalent to many antibiotic drugs, but without those drugs' tendency to create resistant strains of pathogens."  In his book, Herbal Antibiotics - Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria, Stephen Harrod Buhner states, "Garlic is perhaps the most extensively tested herb in the world; in vitro, in vivo and human trials have shown its powerful effectiveness against bacterial and viral infectious agents."

Mullein - This you may not be as familiar with but I am willing those of us who live in the United States have seen it growing along the road and in fields.  Mullein's actions are said to be expectorant, demulcent, emollient, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, nervine, antispasmodic, vulnerary, alternative, astringent, pectoral, nutritive, antiseptic, hemostatic, anodyne, narcotic, anti-asthmatic, germicide and vermicide.  Studies are not available to show the efficacy of Mullein against earaches and infections but it has long been used in folk medicine as a treatment for both.  It is likely that its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties are the key players in its usefulness against problematic ears.


1 head of garlic
.75 ounces of mullein leaves Where to Buy
4oz Oil (approx)

Ignore the scale.
I grabbed this shot before I finished weighing out the Mullein.

The Process is very straight forward.

Peel and crush your garlic.  There is no need to chop it up.

Combine Mullein, Garlic and Oil in a food processor.
How much oil you need will depend on how dry your Mullein is.
Now, you may be wondering why the food processor.  This is a little trick I learned in an Herbalism 101 Course I took through Divine Journeys.Mullein is a very fluffy plant.  Processing it ensures that everything gets covered in the oil without having to use more oil than necessary.  You can choose to either cut it up by hand into smaller pieces or even skip this step.  Even if you have to add extra oil, your ear oil will still be effective.

Pour into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
At this step you are going to want to add about an inch of oil for head space.  This will help keep the herbs covered and decrease the risk of your oil molding.

Label your concoction!!  I can't tell you how many things I have had to throw out
because I just knew I wouldn't forget what it was.  I was wrong!
Once your oil is labeled you can do 1-2 things.  You can sun infuse your oil.  This entails placing your oil into direct sunlight generally for 24-72 hours, allowing the heat from the sun to infuse the oil with the herbal constituents.  Though 24-72 hours is the general time frame for sun infusions, I let my sun infusions sit for a week. 
You could also cold infuse your oil.  To do so, you just place your jar in a cool, dark place being sure to shake it once a day for the first week.  With this type of infusion, your oil will be ready in 4-6 weeks.

Regardless which infusion method you choose, the last step is the same.  Strain your oil through unbleached muslin or several layers of cheesecloth (Mullein has tiny hairs that can be irritating if left in), place into a dark colored, glass bottle and label.

How I administer - 

1/2 glass dropper full to the affected ear, twice daily for a week.  If both ears are affected, allow 2-3 minutes between ears to ensure the oil has made it down the canal.  After the oil is applied to the ear, place a warmed (NOT hot) cotton ball in the ear or have them lay down with a warmed rice pillow over their ear.

  • You do not need Mullein for this oil to be effective.  Some people even use Calendula in place of or along with the Mullein.
  • This is NOT appropriate for pain related to water in the ears.  In fact, using this oil in that case can cause molding in the ear.
  • Without treatment, many earaches and infections will resolve themselves.  However, if you notice a worsening of the symptoms or there is no improvement after a week see your primary care provider (PCP).
  • If you or your child suffer from chronic ear infections, you may find a chiropractic realignment helpful.
  • If the ears are draining, there is hearing loss or bleeding from the ears DO NOT use this oil. Instead, contact your primary care provider (PCP).
  • Always remember - I am sharing with you things that have worked for my family and friends. While I am passionate about herbalism, natural health and aromatherapy, I am NOT a trained professional.  I am not here to diagnose or as a substitute for your primary care provider (PCP).  You should discuss all natural treatments with your PCP.  


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