It's a fact that prescription drugs can cause more harm than good when treating ear infections. Fortunately there are some fantastic herbs which you can take to boost your immune system and alleviate your ear infection symptoms naturally.

It is in the acute, initial stage of an ear infection that symptoms are usually at their worst. Patients will often report fever, painful and congested ears, aching muscles, headache, enlarged lymph glands, tiredness and sometimes nausea and diarrhea.

During the chronic phase of ear infections, symptoms are not usually as intense, but recur recurrently for weeks, months or years. Symptoms most typically seen in cases of chronic ear infections are fluid congestion, hearing loss, ringing in the ears, dizziness and ongoing fatigue. If you have had the symptoms of an ear infection for more than 6 months, then you are probably in the chronic stage.

Herbs for acute ear infections

Echinacea is the herb of choice if you have just been diagnosed with an ear infection, or are in the acute stages.

Echinacea is a bitter herb with antiviral, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. It stimulates the immune system and has been shown to help the lymphatic system and glandular swelling. It increases the production and activity of white blood cells, helping to kill viruses and bacteria.

Echinacea is usually taken as a tincture (in a alcohol base). It is also available in capsule or tablet form for those who don't like liquids. For severe symptoms you can take echinacea every 2 hours and gradually decrease the frequency to three times a day as symptoms improve. For maximum benefit it is good if you can get a blend of the root of Echinacea purpurea with Echinacea augustifolia.

Studies have shown that you can become resistant to echinacea if you take it for too long without a break. For this reason have a week's break every couple of months. Because of echinacea's effects on the immune system, you should not take this drug if you have multiple sclerosis, AIDS, tuberculosis, leukemia, and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Olive leaf extract
My personal favorite in treating ear infections is olive leaf extract. Over 40 medical and scientific publications now confirm the therapeutic benefits of olive leaf extract in treating health disorders. The reason why olive leaf extract is so effective is that it stimulates phagocytosis, the process by which white blood cells ingest harmful microorganisms and foreign matter.

For treating an ear infection, olive leaf extract can be taken as a capsule or liquid three times daily. For a preventative, twice daily is usually adequate.

Other herbs for the acute stage

Although echinacea and olive leaf extract are the herbs I commonly prescribe for ear infections, there are many others with powerful antiviral properties that you could try. These include Goldenseal, the Chinese Herbal combination Gao Mao Ling, Wild Indigo, Cat's Claw and Pau d'arco.

Herbs for chronic ear infections

Astragalus is particularly useful for chronic ear infections as it fortifies the immune system and rebuilds strength and stamina. It is the herb of choice for persistent or relapsing infections. Astragalus is also a good preventative to keep further infections at bay, particularly during the flu season or when you are exposed to a lot of germs and bugs.

Astragalus should not be used in children with fevers because according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, it may make the fever last longer or grow stronger. The immune system effects of astragalus make it inappropriate while taking corticosteroids or immunosuppressive drugs. It may enhance the effects of antiviral drugs so should be avoided if you are on acyclovir or interferon.

Gingko biloba
Long term side effects of an ear infection can be tinnitus (ringing in the ear), dizziness and loss of hearing. The herb Gingko biloba is supported by numerous scientific studies to give symptomatic relief of these symptoms.

Gingko biloba works by improving circulation to the ears. This increases oxygen and nutrient supply and promotes cell efficiency and health. Studies have shown that timing is critical in the treatment of symptoms of tinnitus. If the patient could be started on a course of 240mg a day of Gingko biloba within the first three months of the appearance of tinnitus, there was a 90% chance that the tinnitus could be cured. After a year the success rate drops to 20%.

Herbs to reduce mucous
If you have a lot of mucous in your respiratory tract then garlic, horseradish, fenugreek, golden seal and licorice are particularly good. Sage or thyme are also excellent when made up into a tea and drunk three times a day.

Herbs to lower a fever
For high fevers, coriander tea or cleavers can reduce the temperature and make you feel a little more comfortable. You can make a tea of 2 teaspoons crushed coriander seed seeped in 1 cup of boiling water for 20 minutes. For cleavers tea, use 2 to 3 teaspoons of the dried herb (stems and small leaves) per cup of water. Drink 1 cup three times daily.

Herbs for anxiety, insomnia and depression
Certain herbs called "nervines" can help to reduce the anxiety, tension and stress associated with an ear infection. Valerian is the best known nerve calmer and mild non-addictive sedative. Skullcap, hops and passionflower are also helpful. St. Johns Wort (Hypericum) is particularly good for mild depression. Ginseng is a herb famous for protecting the body against stress and fatigue. It is also renowned for improving mental alertness and athletic performance.

Buying your herbs
You can buy your herbs alone or combined in a commercial preparation from your health food shop. They can also be made up specifically for you by a herbalist. Most herbs are available as teas, liquids, tablets or capsules.

Author's Bio: 

Qualified 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 eEar 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 today.