A lot of the pain and soreness associated with ear infections comes from inflammation of the ear and Eustachian tubes. Inflamed tissue and fluid in the ear puts pressure on the nerves causing pain.
Inflammation is characterized by pain, heat, redness and swelling. There is also a reduction in function of the affected area. In some people, complete healing from an ear infection never occurs, and chronic inflammation sets in.
The best news is that there are some fantastic foods that naturally reduce inflammation and can ease the discomfort of being sick. The beauty of these foods is that, unlike conventional medication, there are no side effects and it is impossible to overdose on them! So let's have a look at these super foods...
Turmeric is a pungent, astringent spice that acts as a potent anti-inflammatory and antibiotic. It is also strengthening and energizing.
You can buy turmeric fresh as a root, which looks a bit like ginger, or you can get it as a powder from the spice section of your supermarket. Turmeric has a lovely yellow color and is the main ingredient in curry powder.
Turmeric can be taken as a tea or added to soups, curries, stir fries or casseroles. Here's a tip: mix one teaspoon of turmeric powder into a dessertspoon of Manuka or medicinal honey, and slowly sip.
Ginger is a pungent spice known for its warming properties and its anti-inflammatory action. It is ideal for soothing sore ears and to help quell the nausea and upset stomach that sometimes accompanies infections.
Fresh ginger root is readily available and seems to be more effective than the powder. Ginger root can be juiced in small amounts and diluted into fresh vegetable or fruit juices (it goes well with carrot and apple). It can also be finely grated and used in teas, soups or stir fries. Some health food shops stock Ginger Syrup - a combination of ginger mixed with medicinal honey and apple cider vinegar. It acts as a soothing throat tonic and tastes delicious! You can also buy powdered ginger (often with lemon) in tea bags. These are great when you are busy or on the run.
Garlic is a tremendous cure-all for any infection. It is excellent for infections as it also supports the liver and helps digestion. Garlic is a powerful preventative that stops secondary infections like mastoiditis from developing.
I recommend my ear infection patients take a clove of garlic a day, preferably raw. The easiest way to eat a clove a garlic a day is to crush or dice it finely, and add it to salad dressings or a couple of tablespoons of natural yoghourt with some diced cucumber to make a tasty tzatziki. You can also drink crushed garlic as a hot tea.
Sea salt promotes salivation and sweating and can help improve digestion. Mixed with a small amount of warm water, sea salt is a powerful gargle that soothes an irritated throat and helps wash away mucous, toxins and microbes. Ear infections commonly start from a respiratory infection with microbes working their way up the Eustachian tubes to the ears.
If you have a sore throat or respiratory symptoms associated with your ear infection, then gargle with ¼ teaspoon sea salt in ¼ cup of warm water. Repeat 3 times a day.
It is best to buy natural, unrefined sea salt from your health food shop. It can be bought as coarse, medium or fine. I prefer the fine granules for use in gargles and cooking.
Deep sea oily fish, like salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel and herrings, are a rich source of Omega 3 fats. These fats are essential for optimal immune function, and act as natural anti-inflammatories.
Eating deep sea fish three times a week, or taking at least 2000 mg of a contaminant-free fish oil capsule daily, is recommended. Cod liver oil is also an excellent option as it combines the vitamin A with the essential fish oil.
How often should you be eating the anti-inflammatory foods?
Try to incorporate these foods into your routine on a daily basis. If you are in the acute stage of an ear infection then you will need to eat them every few hours.
I tell my patients to make up a big batch of chicken soup and load it up with ginger, garlic, turmeric, cayenne pepper and a pinch of sea salt. It is a fantastic way to soothe sore ears and comfort the soul!
Naturopath Elizabeth Noble BSc. Dip Nat Ther, has over 16 years experience in helping thousands boost their immunity and regain their health.
She specialises in treating patients with Ear infections and immune disorders like Epstein Barr virus and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Elizabeth's therapies include the use of vitamins, minerals and herbs, an immune-boosting diet, cleansing the body, aromatherapy, massage, graded exercise and stress reduction.
Elizabeth is the author of the e-book "Nature's Amazing Ear Infection Cures". If you or a loved one are suffering from an ear infection and want to relieve your pain, congested ears, muffled hearing and fatigue, then make sure you visit EarInfection.com.