Herbal treatment in Otitis Media.





Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Otitis Media
Professional Data: Otitis Media


Otitis media is more commonly referred to as an ear infection. As most parents know, ear infections demand attention. Otitis media can be classified as acute otitis media or as otitis media with effusion meaning that there is an accumulation of fluids. Acute otitis media is characterized by rapid onset of symptoms, and episodes are more frequent in the first 3 years of life. Acute otitis media is the most frequent diagnosis in infants and children who visit physicians because of illness.1 Acute otitis media occurs in adults, but with much less frequency. Otitis media with effusion differs from acute otitis media in that signs and symptoms of acute infection are absent.

The middle ear is best described as an air-filled cavity that begins at the eardrum, also referred to as the tympanic membrane, and extends to the upper throat behind the nose, an area called the nasopharynx. Connecting these two areas is the eustachian tube. Its primary functions are the regulation of atmospheric pressure between both sides of the tympanic membrane, protection from nasopharyngeal secretions, and draining secretions from the middle ear into the nasopharynx. In the adult, the eustachian tube lies at a 45° angle from the horizontal plane. In children that angle is only 10°. This may indeed help explain the increased rate of infection in infants and children, since the degree of this important angle may cause improper drainage.

A recent double-blind study investigated the effects of herbal versus anesthetic ear-drops in otitis media in 171 children. The herbal drops contained vitamin E, lavender, calendula, garlic, St. John’s wort, and mullein. The children were divided in to three groups, the herbal drops, the herbal drops plus the anesthetic, or amoxicillin administered along with the herbal drops. The results showed that all three groups had shown improvement over a three-day period. Children who received the herbal drops had a better response than those who received amoxicillin. The researchers stated that the herbal drops might offer new approaches to otitis media. They found that the herbal drops were well tolerated and are less expensive than commonly used drugs. In conclusion, this study found that an herbal extract solution might be beneficial in otitis media in children.2


1. Infante-Rivard C, Fernandez A. Otitis media in children: Frequency, risk factors, and research avenues. Epidemiol Rev 1993;15:444-465.
2. Sarrell EM ,et al. Naturopathic Treatment for Ear Pain in Children. Pediatrics. May 2003;111(5):574-579.