Natural Health: My 10-year-old gets recurrent ear infections; teenage daugther's pink eye

Natural Health: My 10-year-old gets recurrent ear infections; teenage daugther's pink eye

My 10-year-old son gets recurrent ear infections which are usually treated with antibiotics. Is there a natural remedy you could recommend?

The top two herbal remedies for ear infections utilise common kitchen ingredients — garlic, onion, and olive oil.

Natural Health: My 10-year-old gets recurrent ear infections; teenage daugther's pink eye

Slow-baked onion together with olive oil is often used for chest congestion, particularly where a cough has taken hold and won’t shift. The garlic is simply infused raw into the olive oil and used as external drops.

For the onion remedy, you will need to roughly chop a small onion and bake on a low heat in the oven with a little olive oil until it is soft and translucent, and set aside. Wrap the onion pieces in a tea towel or flannel and apply as a heat pack to the infected ear for around half an hour to draw out infection.

The garlic remedy is a little more straight forward, where you simply crush a clove of fresh garlic into a tablespoon (15ml) of olive oil. Steep for 12 hours or overnight, and then strain off the oil and discard the garlic (or use it to cook with).

Use 2-3 drops of the garlic-infused oil on cotton wool and place gently in the outer ear so that the garlic oil is sitting directly over the entrance of the ear.

It is not necessary to put the oil directly into the ear. Change three times daily or as necessary.

The herbal tincture goldenseal, Hydrastis Canadensis, is an excellent standby for treating any infection. It can be used internally and externally to treat both viral and bacterial infections.

It is bright yellow, hence the name, so you might want to wear gloves or apply it very carefully with a dropper to avoid staining. The tincture can be applied directly to the outer edge of the ear canal, and taken internally as directed on the bottle.

There are a couple of therapies which have proven very useful in treating and preventing ear infections — homoeopathy and craniosacral therapy. You should be able to find a local homoeopath without any difficulty as homoeopathy has become very popular. To find a craniosacral practitioner in your area, visit www.iacst.ie www.cranio.ie

No doubt you are already taking your son to see an ENT specialist — it is worth enquiring next visit as to whether or not there is a structural issue underlying the repeat infections, or perhaps a dietary component. Recurrent ear infections are common where gluten or dairy intolerance is an issue.

My teenage daughter recently developed pink eye which quickly cleared up. Are there steps she can take to prevent it from happening again?

Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is where a bacterial or viral infection affects the conjunctiva — the transparent membrane covering and protecting the white of the eye. As you no doubt are already aware, this is a highly contagious condition, and it often spreads from one eye to the other.

Natural Health: My 10-year-old gets recurrent ear infections; teenage daugther's pink eye

The best step your daughter can take to prevent this from happening again is to practise good hygiene, and avoiding touching her eyes.

Washing your hands between tasks is effective in keeping infection at bay, especially after petting animals.

It is possible to get an allergy-related conjunctivitis, where seasonal pollen is the trigger. Other ways in which conjunctivitis can appear is after an eye injury or being in a very polluted environment where the eyes are affected, such as a smoky room.

There are a few good herbs used to treat eye infection — eyebright, goldenseal, and raspberry leaf in particular. These are all valued for their antiviral benefits and immune-supportive properties, which means that they can also be used to help prevent infection or re-infection.

You can use one or all three of these herbs as a homemade eyewash, as well as taking them internally as a herbal infusion. If you don’t have an eye cup for bathing the eye, then simply soak a cotton ball in the strained infusion and apply to the eye, using a fresh cotton ball for each eye and discarding it afterwards to prevent cross-contamination.

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