About Earache…

About Earache

Earache is severe pain inside the ear. It is usually caused by an infection and may occur along-side a cold, sore throat or blocked sinuses.


Aim of treatment:

To fight the infection with natural antibiotic remedies.

To soothe the pain.

To avoid unnecessary use of prescription antibiotics.


Foods to avoid:

Avoiding the mucous-forming foods can sometimes be helpful: dairy, wheat and sugar. Make sure that you have alternatives to feed your child. Growing children must be well-fed!


General treatment:

Keep warm and cover the ear. Exposure to cold and draughts often causes earache, so a hat with ear-covering flaps or earmuffs can help a great deal in children who are prone to this.

Safety and When to seek Professional Medical Help

Earache normally will not last more than 24 hours. Often the pain will come and go within this time, with it usually totally ceasing within 24 hours.

Usually the onion poultice treatment outlined below will start to bring relief from earache right away.

If this treatment doesn’t show signs of bringing relief or easing the pain within 3-4 hours and your child continues to be in pain or if the condition worsens in any way then take him/her to your GP.

If the earache continues to come back after 24 hours then take your child to your GP. It is considered normal in standard healthcare for an ear infection to last up to 3 days. However, I would not expect this with the recommended herbal treatment. That’s why I recommend contacting your GP earlier if this herbal treatment hasn’t helped, because it could indicate that there is a more serious infection present that might genuinely require an antibiotic.

Do NOT leave your child in pain. If the poultice treatment outlined in this lesson does not help to relieve the pain (you should see signs of the pain lessening for your child within 10 mins or less of applying it) then give your child a suitable painkiller. The antiseptic oil released from the poultice treatment will still be helpful to try to kill the virus or infection, the cause of the earache.


Professional Medical Help for Recurrent Earache & Ear Infections

If your child is suffering from recurrent earaches then I recommend taking him/her to your GP to investigate the cause of these. It’s important that the GP examines your child’s ear with an otoscope to check for any physical blockages or narrowing inside the ear.

Recurrent earaches can often be related to allergy and diet can play a factor. Again, see your GP to confirm this diagnosis. Chronic allergies can respond well to proper treatment with herbal medicine. We will talk about this more in relation to the allergy lessons (asthma, hay fever, perennial rhinitis etc.).

Remedy Technique: ONION POULTICE

A reliable and effective remedy for ear-ache that is easy to make from a common kitchen cupboard ingredient












Why an onion poultice?

I’ve found that the best and simplest remedy to use for earache is the humble onion.

When I was a student I read a clinical trial showing how effective this treatment is compared to antibiotics. Since then, it has become standard health advice from government health boards that antiobiotics are not usually the correct or necessary treatment for ear infections and earache. Using the onion poultice, the child should begin to experience some relief right away.

Both onions and garlic are very antiseptic, with natural antibiotic properties and are well-known for fighting infections.

I love this treatment using an onion because it is non-invasive (unlike other remedies that involve putting things into the ear canal) and usually very effective. The warmth is so comforting & soothing.

Applying the poultices usually helps to ease the pain immediately.

Heating the onion in the oven this way draws out and releases the antiseptic effects from the onion and makes it easier for the body to absorb. The antiseptic oil released helps to fight the infection or virus itself.

So this humble onion poultice helps to ease the symptoms (i.e. the pain) and the cause of the earache (the infection or virus).

Tips for nursing your child

Cuddle your child: if you can, get into bed with them, sit or lie behind your child, hold the poultice over your child’s ear and cuddle your child. Pain makes children frightened. If you are there to cuddle and reassure your child, this dissipates the fear, the child relaxes and this helps to ease the pain. The warmth of the poultice is relaxing and this also helps to relieve the fear children can feel. 

Distract your child from the pain: distracting your child with something they like can help to take their attention from the pain to something else that they prefer. Putting on their favourite television series or film while you cuddle them and hold the poultice over their ear can be a great technique to use, especially if the earache strikes during the night. The characters or film are so well-loved by them that again, this reassures them and they will often fall asleep this way, while you hold the poultice on. Stay there for as long as you can. Sleep with them, in whichever way is safe and age-appropriate.

♠ Sleep: Encourage your child to sleep.

♠ Using this poultice technique with babies: For a baby it can help to put your baby in a sling (on the front of your body) and you can hold the poultice over his/her ear. You might find yourself gently bouncing and dancing around this way, holding the poultice over your baby’s ear for a few hours, but this position tends to bring them great relief. The warmth and comfort of your body and probably being able to hear or feel your heartbeat too, is especially soothing.

♠ Repeat the treatment as necessary: Sometimes earache comes back but is not as severe. This is usually a sign that the treatment is beginning to work. Repeat the process with the poultice again and encourage more rest and sleep.

Recipe Technique: Photo lessons and pdf recipe info

Put the onion on to cook as soon as you suspect that your child may have earache, because it takes 15-20 mins to prepare this treatment and in the mean time your poor child is in pain.

Step 1

* Put the oven on to 180 °C

Step 2

* Take an onion (a red onion does the job too).

Step 3

* Cut the onion in half.

Step 4

* Put the onion halves on to an oven tray, cut side up.

Step 5

* Bake for 15 – 20 mins, until the onion is soft but not brown or burnt.


Step 6

 * After 20 mins the onion will have softened and the aroma from the onion will be obvious.

Step 7

* Remove the onions from the oven (careful, they will be hot!).

Step 8

* They will be soft when touched or squeezed (remember they are hot, I just did this to show the texture for this photo).

Step 9

* Take a clean small towel and place the onion in it.


Step 10

 * Fold the towel over the onion.

Step 11

* Totally cover the onion with the towel.

Step 12

* Wrap the towel around the onion so that it is completely covered.

Step 13

* Take the onion poultice to test on yourself first to check the temperature.

* The flat (cut) side of the onion is the side that we are going to place against the ear.


Step 14

* Apply to your ear. If it is still too hot, wrap another layer of the towel around the onion and apply it again.

* When the temperature is safe and suitable for your child’s skin to cope with, then hold it over your child’s ear.

* Leave it in place for as long as possible e.g. 20 mins- 2 hours.

* If the earache reoccurs, warm the other half of the onion and start the treatment again.