When it comes to powerhouse herbs and natural remedies for illness, garlic tops the list. It is naturally antimicrobial, antiviral and antibacterial, making it beneficial for helping the body fight many types of infections.
I always have fresh, organic garlic on hand because my husband comes from an Italian family and all of his favorite dishes call for garlic (and so does my favorite garlic soup). I’m always grateful I do when any of us get any kind of illness because of garlic’s natural ability to help the body fight infection.
Garlic as a Natural Remedy for Illness
Garlic has been used as a natural remedy for illness for thousands of years. There are historical records of its use in Ancient Greece and Rome, and it was part of the legendary vinegar of the four thieves tincture that supposedly saved four thieves from death during the bubonic plague.
There are almost 5,000 published studies that support garlic’s healing ability for everything from hypertension to hair loss and everything in between. (sources)
Though there are many supplements that contain garlic, I’ve found that raw, fresh, organic garlic seems to be the most effective remedy. I also include garlic in many tinctures as well as in my fire cider recipe.
The fastest and most effective way I use garlic for illness is mincing it up and drinking in water. It isn’t the most appetizing, but it works. I just mince one clove of garlic into tiny pieces and put in a small glass of water. I drink the water and just swallow the garlic pieces without chewing.
Unfortunately, my kids aren’t a fan of taking garlic this way because of the strong taste and they have more trouble swallowing the pieces of garlic. Since the most common childhood infection is an ear infection, I’ve been using a traditional garlic oil remedy for years to help fight ear infections quickly….
Garlic Olive Oil for Ear Infection
Traditional Garlic Olive Oil is a remedy that has been used for dozens, if not hundreds of years for ear infections. Unlike many other conventional remedies, garlic can work with the body and provide relief quickly with long-lasting results.
Antibiotics are often prescribed for ear infections, even though the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has not recommended this as a general practice since 2004. Many ear infections are caused by viruses, which are unaffected by antibiotics. (source)
Thousands of children unnecessarily get antibiotics each year for ear infections when the antibiotics are not even effective for most infections. This has potential long-lasting side effects as antibiotics can permanently alter gut bacteria and many types of bacteria are becoming antibiotic resistant due to overuse of these drugs.
Additionally, research has shown that most children fight an ear infection on their own within 24-72 hours without the need for antibiotics or other intervention.
That said, just hearing that your child will be better in 1-3 days is not comforting to a mother who is holding her toddler as he or she screams from the pain of an aching ear. Fortunately, there are remedies, like this garlic ear oil, that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers used to ease the pain of ear infection and speed the healing process.
Why it Works:
Garlic is powerful on its own and olive oil is soothing to infection as well. Olive oil is often used as the base for healing salves and lotions because it contains potent polyphenols which reduce inflammation. Together, garlic and olive oil can help ease the pain of ear infection and reduce healing time.
This remedy is very effective, but it is important to make sure that the ear drum has not ruptured before using this or any other remedy in the ear. I have this Dr. Mom Otoscope on hand to check my child’s eardrum before using any remedy inside the ear canal. Typically, pain subsides if the ear drum bursts so the presence of pain can indicate that the ear drum is still intact, but I always like to check.
If one of my children does ever experience a ruptured eardrum, I would definitely get him or her checked my a doctor, though often not much can be done besides keeping the ear dry and letting it heal naturally.
How to Make Garlic Olive Oil for Ears
I’m grateful that ear infections are very rare in our family, but if one strikes, I immediately head to the kitchen to make this remedy…
- 1 clove of fresh garlic (organic if possible), minced
- 2 tablespoons of high quality olive oil or sesame oil
- There are two ways this remedy can be made, depending on how much time you have and your preference for heating olive oil or not.
- The fastest way is to heat the olive oil in a small pan or double boiler (preferred) and add the minced garlic. Then, keep on very low heat for about 20 minutes to let the beneficial properties of the garlic infuse into the oil. At this point, strain the garlic and remove. I let the garlic cool to just skin temperature and place about two drops in the ear. The warmth and the oil often offer fast relief. Since fresh garlic is used, I make a new batch of this mixture every 24 hours if needed rather than keeping the remaining oil, since bacteria can potentially grow from the garlic.
- If you prefer not to heat garlic, you can accomplish the same thing by mincing raw garlic and keeping in olive oil without heating for 2-3 hours before straining and using, though this option is not as helpful if you need immediate relief.
Fresh Garlic Poultice
If you don’t have oil on hand or prefer not to use it, you can accomplish some of the same benefit by slicing a clove of garlic and placing between layers of a piece of gauze. Then, this gauze can be placed on the outside of the ear and left for 30 minutes or so to help fight infection. This isn’t as effective as the oil used internally but is safer, especially if you don’t know if the eardrum is intact or not. To increase the beneficial potential, you can also place a warm rice pack on the outside of the gauze to add heat.
A Pre-Made Alternative
Though I’ve found that homemade fresh warmed garlic olive oil is more effective, there are also pre-made versions (like this one) you can keep on hand that don’t carry the same risk of bacterial growth and that are very convenient.
What do you do for ear infections? Ever tried a natural remedy like this?