There are many among us who prefer to use alternative remedies to alleviate certain symptoms. Among such options are essential oils, tea tree oils or colloidal silver. These individuals believe that these natural oils help in their conditions — for example in cases of ear infection.
However, it is important to take the advice of medical professionals on using these oils for our health issues.
In 2005, Professor Karl Gustaf Kristinsson, a professor at the University of Iceland, and his team did research on the effects of applying essential oils to the ear canal of rats afflicted with acute ear infections. The findings revealed that this treatment healed 56 to 81 per cent of rats infected with Haemophilus influenzae and 6 to 75 per cent of rats infected with pneumococci – two bacteria known to cause pneumonia.
These outcomes demonstrate promise, but we need to conduct further research to determine the effectiveness and safety of using essential oils in humans.
Risks and warnings
Dr Shruthi L H, founder, and chief consultant at Shalaaki ENT and Eye Care, Bengaluru, says essential oils are not a universal remedy for ear infections. While some individuals may benefit from them, others may develop severe allergies.
“Essential oils are known for their potential to reduce inflammation and can be applied externally to the outer ear,” she says. A common method involves soaking a cotton ball in a specific essential oil and placing it in the ear for relief. But she emphasises that it is vital for people to consult a doctor before using attempting such a treatment.
Doctors guide us through the process while ensuring safe and correct use of essential oils. They also assess the eardrum to rule out any damage, which is crucial before applying any substance to the ear. Also, safe treatment options are available, she says.
No scientific proof
Plants or plant parts produce essential oils, and people favour them for their pleasant fragrances. They are the key in aromatherapy and as mood enhancers.
Dr Vineet Narula, senior consultant at Max Smart Super Speciality in Saket, New Delhi, points out that there is no scientific evidence supporting the use of essential oils, tea tree oil or colloidal silver when one has an ear infection.
He strongly advises consulting an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist for treating ear problems.
The correct way to use oils
Dr Shruthi advises that we should not directly use essential oils in the ear without medical guidance. One reason is that “These oils are strong and should be thoroughly diluted before use. Moreover, essential oils should not be applied directly to the ear if there is any suspicion of a perforated eardrum,” she says. This is crucial as any damage to the inner ear can lead to serious complications. She says, however, “In some cases, we recommend it for steam inhalation.”
In summary, while some individuals claim that essential oils can be beneficial in managing the symptoms of ear infections, it is essential to proceed with caution. Do not use these oils directly in the ear without medical supervision, especially if there are concerns about a perforated eardrum.
Seeking advice from an ENT expert is the safest and most effective way to address ear infections. When it comes to our health, it is always safe to rely on evidence-based medical guidance.