mend an ear

ONE REWARD OF ADULTHOOD is leaving childhood maladies like earaches behind. But for some, these pesky infections persist. For fast relief, press a heating pad against your ear to ease pain and promote drainage, says Los Angeles acupuncturist Julie Chambers, L.Ac. For more enduring comfort, try one of these antibiotic-free remedies. While supporting research focuses on children, natural remedies like herbal ear drops and homeopathy are equally effective for adults, says Mindy Boxer, Ph.D., L.Ac., a Santa Monica, Calif., homeopath.

Legend for Chart:
A - what
A: why
B: The herbs garlic and mullein possess antibacterial and
anti-inflammatory properties that can help tame infection.
C: Using only your fingertips, you can ease discomfort with a simple
technique; it's especially useful for earaches caused by tooth
and jaw problems, wax buildup, or neuralgia.
D: Just as a vaccine helps ward off winter flu, homeopathy treats ear
infection symptoms with a highly diluted version of a substance that
causes similar symptoms.
A: evidence
B: In a 2003 study published in the journal Pediatrics, children
treated with herbal ear drops (containing garlic and mullein,
calendula, St. John's wort, and lavender) recovered faster from
middle ear infections than those who received both ear drops and
C: "Acupressure stimulates blood and qi [energy] flow in the channels
that circle the ear," explains Chambers. Enhancing circulation
helps bring balance to the body, reducing pain and restoring normal
D: Reviewing homeopathy's effects on 75 kids with middle ear
infections, researchers from the University of Washington in
Seattle discovered that those who were given individualized
homeopathic remedies instead of a placebo had a significant
reduction in symptoms.
A: caveats
B: Don't use drops if the eardrum is perforated or fluid is draining
from the ear, cautions Gina Haber, L.Ac., an acupuncturist in
Pasadena, Calif. (If your child is the patient, consult his or her
C: By Western standards, the evidence is anecdotal. Clinical trials
have yet to be performed to determine acupressure's efficacy for
D: Eating, drinking, brushing your teeth, or chewing gum within 20
minutes of using a homeopathic remedy may weaken its effectiveness,
Boxer warns.
A: using it
B: Place two warm drops in the affected ear three times a day, Haber
suggests. An herbalist or naturopath can create a formula for you,
or purchase a ready-made blend such as Wise Woman Herbals Ear Drop
Oil (with mullein, garlic, and calendula; $8 for 0.5 ounces;
C: One at a time, press the three points where your ear meets your face
and the point directly behind your ear lobe. Alternate between
points, gently but firmly massaging for a total of about 10 minutes.
D: The right remedy varies according to symptoms. Belladonna can ease
throbbing accompanied by fever; pulsatilla relieves a feeling of
pressure behind the eardrum; and Kali muriaticum is best for
infections that occur with nasal congestion and swollen glands.
Hyland's Earache Tablets ($10.50; contain
belladonna, pulsatilla, and other helpful substances.


By Elizabeth Barker

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