Glue ear is a condition in which fluid builds up in the middle ear due to bacterial or viral infection, and remains there. The medical term for glue ear is ‘otitis media with effusion’. Glue ear restricts hearing and is becoming increasingly prevalent in young children, who are more susceptible to recurrent ear infections. The medical approach is to give antibiotic drugs and insert grommets. Both of these interventions carry risks and potential adverse effects.
Active prevention is the best approach. Minimising children’s exposure to cigarette smoking, overcrowded living situations, and other people with colds or ear infections reduces their susceptibility. Strengthen your child’s immune system with plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and nuts in their diet. Steer them away from sugary drinks or sweets. Supplement Vitamin C or a kids’ multivitamin and mineral formula if they’re picky eaters.
Propolis, a combination of plant resin, beeswax and enzymes mixed together by honeybees, is known as ‘nature’s best defence’ against all types of infections including glue ear. Because of its gluey nature (it’s called ‘bee glue’) propolis is also an ideal treatment for glue ear according to the natural doctrine of signatures. This ancient method identifies medicinal properties by the part of the body or tissue quality resembled in a plant or substance (its signature).
Another time honoured ear treatment made from bee products is ear candling. Many ancient cultures used ear candles to remove excessive wax build-up, improve hearing impairment, treat ear pain and infection, and for other related symptoms. Made from beeswax, ear candles are safe, gentle and relaxing as both prevention and treatment of glue ear.
Despite your best efforts, ear infections can still happen. Children playing together in swimming pools and at day care centres pick up whatever infection is around them. It only takes an emotional upset or tiredness to temporarily lower their immunity and allow the infection to take hold. When there is an infection present, stop all milk products because these stimulate mucous production in the body.
Mullein oil or garlic oil drops in the ear are another two specific treatments for earache due to accumulated fluid, especially related to allergies or microbial infections. Internally, give herbs such as echinacea, thyme and garlic to enhance their immune response. Weleda’s Levisticum Comp Oral Drops is a combination of apis, echinacea and levisticum (lovage) formulated specifically for glue ear. When combined with Levisticum Comp Eardrops both acute and long term glue ear conditions can be alleviated.
By Carolyn Simon ND, DipMedHerb
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