Help soothe your child’s earaches with this herbal combination.
A recent clinical study showed that an herbal oil formula was just as effective as conventional anesthetic ear drops in easing the paid of acute otitis media (ear infection) in children older than six. The herbal formula, a combination of garlic (Allium sativum), mullein (Verbascum spp.), calendula (Calendula officinalis), and St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) in olive oil, is a classic treatment that has long been used by traditional herbalist for childhood earaches.
For the double-blind study 103 boys and girls between the ages of six and eighteen were randomly assigned to two treatment groups. The first group received treatment with the herbal oil formula and the other with standard anesthetic ear drops, both at a dosage of five drops three times daily. After treatment was initiated, patients and parents assessed pain relief at home using a ten-point “Pain-O-Meter” evaluation scale specially designed for children, and the doctors conducted phone interviews with the children on days one of two of treatment. Treatment was deemed successful if the child experienced a reduction in ear pain of at least 75 percent after forty-eight hours of treatment and if there was overall improvement in the child’s appearance, activity level, and sleep patterns.
The two treatments were equally effective in relieving ear pain. Because none of the children were treated with antibiotics, the researchers made a point of noting that all of the children recovered without antibiotics and that there were no complications due to the lack of antibiotic treatment. “Decreased use of antimicrobial agents might delay the development of antimicrobial resistance in both the individual child and the community,” the researchers observed. “Herbal extracts have the potential to meet all the requirements of an appropriate medication that could be used routinely in the pediatric population.” For children older than six, they suggest, antibiotic treatment for otitis media might be reserved for use only if herbal treatment proves ineffective.
According to the researchers, childhood otitis media is a generally self-limiting condition that accounts for more than 31 million doctor visits each year, making it the most common condition for which children are seen by doctors.
Sarrell, E.M., et al. “Efficacy of naturopathic extracts in the management of ear pain associated with acute otitis media.” Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 2001, 155(7): 796-799.
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