Treatments for Otitis Media - Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Treatments for Otitis Media

Nutritional Therapies.     To treat ear infections caused by allergies, holistic physicians recommend diets that eliminate allergy-producing foods, including milk and dairy products, eggs, wheat, corn, oranges, and peanut butter. These diets also usually restrict concentrated simple carbohydrates (such as sugar, honey, dried fruit, and concentrated fruit juice) because they can weaken the immune system.

Garlic has been used successfully to treat ear infections caused by bacteria. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine conducted tests in which garlic proved as effective as an antibiotic in killing 14 bacteria that cause recurrent ear infections in children. As cited in the April 1994 issue of Your Health , the garlic even killed some bacteria known to be resistant to common antibiotics.

Vitamin and Mineral Therapies.     In addition to eliminating allergens from the diet, Michael Murray and Jospeh Pizzorno suggest in the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine that betacarotene, vitamin C, zinc picolinate, bioflavonoids, and evening primrose oil have proved useful in preventing or alleviating ear infections. They also claim that some symptoms have been successfully treated with the herbs echinacea, goldenseal, and licorice.

Infections of the inner ear which are due to destroyed inner ear hair cells may be treatable by a new procedure using chemicals made from vitamins. Dr. Thomas R. Van De Water of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City has found that retinoic acid, a derivative of vitamin A, can cause the inner ear to grow new auditory hair cells. The destruction or malfunction of auditory hairs cells is believed to be the major cause of deafness for approximately 18 million Americans, according to an article entitled “Vitamin A May Be a Key Deafness Cure” which appeared in the May 4, 1993 edition of the San Jose Mercury News.

Botanical Medicines.     Dr. John Hibbs of the Natural Health Clinic of Bastyr College in Seattle, Washington, reports in Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide that a botanical formula of goldenseal, mullein, and hypericum in a glycerine base can reduce ear pain and help drain excess fluid of the inner ear. Echinacea and goldenseal also kill bacteria which may cause inflammation.

Homeopathic Therapies.     Homeopath Randall Neustaedter, director of the Classical Medicine Center in Palo Alto, California, notes that acute ear infections are a simple problem to treat with homeopathic remedies. Common homeopathic remedies which he has successsfully used include deadly nightshade ( belladonna ), windflower ( pulsatilla ), phosphate of iron ( ferrum phose ), chamomile ( chamomilla ), and Hahnemann's calcium sulphide ( Hepar sulph ).

According to Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide , Robert Milne, a Las Vegas homeopath, has successfully used two homeopathic remedies, aconite and ferrum phose, to treat the early stages of middle ear infections. For later stages, he gives his patients Chamomilla, Hepar sulph, Lycopodium, Merc sol, Pulsatilla and Silicea.

Ayurvedic Medicine.     Dr. Virender Sodhi, as reported in Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide , uses neem oil to effectively kill bacteria and fungus which cause some middle ear infections. Dr. Sodhi also employs lymphatic massage outside the ears to open the eustachian tube and facilitate draining. In addition, he prescribes the herb amla, which has antibacterial and antiviral properties, to help strengthen the immune system.

Other Treatments.     Locally applied heat is often helpful in reducing the discomfort of an ear infection. It can be applied as a hot pack with warm oil (especially mullein oil), or by blowing hot air into the ear. Also of value is putting hygroscopic anhydrous glycerine into the ear, which draws fluids out and reduces pressure in the middle ear.

Surgery.     When ear infections cannot be cured by holistic treatments, a surgical procedure to drain excess fluids called myringotomy is necessary. The treatment involves placing a tiny plastic tube through the eardrum to assist drainage of fluid into the throat. Myringotomy is not a curative procedure, however, as demonstrated in a double-blind study published in the October 1981 issue of Lancet which showed that children with tubes in their ears are more likely to have further problems with ear infections. The researchers recommended that natural antibiotics such as garlic should be used first because children not receiving chemical antibiotics had fewer recurrences of infection than those receiving antibiotics.

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