Can someone explain the science behind "ear oil"? I need to convince a non-believer. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 03-26-2013, 07:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Here's the back story:


While I try to avoid main-stream medicine whenever possible, my mother is a retired pharmacist who is constantly trying to push medication on me and my children that I don't want. For every natural remedy I use she has an argument for why it can't work. This is SO frustrating.


We are *hopefully* on the tail end of a difficult run of illnesses here. My almost 2 yo DD has been sick for the past month without a break. She went from puking, to diarrhea, to a cold, to an ear infection, to pneumonia and now back to a double ear infection with a cold. Through it all she has been complaining of a sever tummy ache which has kept her awake for entire nights screaming "tummy hurts much" and "mama help me".


We treated the pneumonia with antibiotics, which has cleared the pneumonia but not the ear infections. And I believe her tummy ache has become worse. When I brought her in to the doc after our latest night of distressing screaming, my doctor noticed that the ear infection was still not clear. She recommended more antibiotics with no concern for how this may affect her tummy. Dd does not have a fever and is not complaining of ear pain so it seems wrong to treat the ear infection with antibiotics that could further damage her poor little tummy.


We have been using probiotics and kombucha to help with the tummy. We have some elderberry syrup for general immune health and I have been treating the ear infection with hydrogen peroxide and Wally's Ear Oil. As you can imagine, my mother is playing her role of the skeptic.


To the point:


My mother says there is no way that hydrogen peroxide or ear oil can pass through the outer ear and into the middle ear, where the ear infection likely resides. She said that my treatments may be soothing but they are not going to do anything to clear the infection.


Does ear oil pass through the ear drum? Are the antibacterial properties absorbed into the middle ear tissue through the outer ear? I read that hydrogen peroxide breaks up the blockage to help the ear drain. Does anyone know if this is true and how that works?


I am also wondering if the ear infection is viral since it did not get cured with the strong antibiotic we used for the pneumonia. Does anyone have any current literature on the occurrence of viral vs. bacterial ear infections? I have read that 80% of ear infections heal themselves with no treatment at all, is this accurate?


If any of you have access to some medical literature on the subject, I would welcome that as well. Scientific studies speak strongly to my mother. More so than her own daughter I guess.... :-(


Thank you in advance!!!

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#2 of 4 Old 03-26-2013, 06:19 PM
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Oh no! So sorry about your little darling, and the unsupportive mother. I have no answers, but am subbing to keep track of the info. Hugs!
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#3 of 4 Old 03-27-2013, 07:44 PM
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I don't think ear oil or anything like it passes through the eardrum.  A few references I'd use to confirm this include the book The Holistic Pediatrician (Kemper) and Healing Childhood Ear Infections (M.A. Schmidt).   The first states, for example, "antibiotic eardrops are not effective against middle ear infection b/c they do not cross into the middle ear space (the eardrum is in the way)."  Schmidt simply states that eardrops are not known to cure ear infections, but do make the child feel better.  I don't think anything goes through the eardrum, which is like a sheath separating the outer and middle ear.  The opening to the middle ear is actually in the throat, just behind the nose and is the opening to the eustachian tubes.  When a child has a cold or other crud, usually the infection begins in the middle ear when the eustachian tubes are swollen and blocked, which prevents the ear from draining normally.  


Many folks use peroxide to break up earwax in the outer ear, but its effectiveness on the middle ear would be questionable.  I realize this doesn't exactly HELP your case, but at least you are informed. 


Here's a news clip about ear infections being primarily viral and often clearing on their own.  It's from 2010, but still may help give new info to your mom.  [My mom would believe ANYTHING on the news!!!]


We use warm ear drops (garlic oil with a drop of lavender essential oil) to help with pain during an ear infection at our house and I think they work.  I think they work primarily by soothing the eardrum itself, which is usually swollen and pushing outward during an infection. [Note that we should never put anything--oil, peroxide, anything--in the ear if the ear has fluid or blood drainage.  This drainage likely means the eardrum has burst and you don't want to put anything in the ear that could get directly into the middle ear when the eardrum has ruptured.]  I also learned a massage technique from a book called No More Amoxicillin by Mary Ann Block, M.D.  This is a GREAT resource because of the massage.  After my oldest daughter had recurrent ear infections and 3 rounds of antibx, I said ENOUGH! and bought this book.  She never had another infection when I regularly did the massage.  With her two younger siblings, I do the massage when they get colds or complain of ears in an effort to prevent an infection or help healing.  The main premise is to flush the lymph system so the infection can pass out.  Schmidt (above) talks some about this, along with acupuncture points and massage for ear infections.  Finally, homeopathy can be effective for ear problems if you have a homeopath in your area [but warning, your pharmacist mom might go off the deep end about that one!!!  : )] 


I'm sorry about the lack of support from family and I completely understand as I get the same response.  I try to use data to support what I do, but sometimes I just realize that I have to make these choices and not expect support from my mom.  As long as I am educating myself and making prudent choices to make my child feel better, not damage their health, and guide them to healing, we have to feel it is ok to be different.  You're doing great!  Sounds like the painful tummy is the big issue for you guys right now! 


Here are quick book links:   (for No More Amoxicillin)   (Schmidt, Healing Childhood Ear Infections)


Hope your little one is feeling better soon and that springtime will bring healing!  Best wishes!

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#4 of 4 Old 03-28-2013, 06:09 PM
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Most ear infections are viral and most get better on their own without antibiotics. I have used garlic oil  and warm compress for every earache my DD has ever had, and she has never needed antibiotics. 

Mama to L (7) and A (born 7/15 by VBAC)
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