Healing Ear Infections with Probiotics

Back in December I decided there was something wrong with my ears. Every so often my ears would get this “feeling” like I was coming down with a cold, usually accompanied by that “feeling” I get in my throat when I’m about to get sick. I could tell my ears were infected with something, but it was very mild and didn’t hurt. I would put garlic oil in my ears at night and the next day I would no longer feel like I was getting sick. If a virus was entering my body through my ears, this would make a lot of sense.

After a while, I noticed that my ears never really felt normal. By December it was noticeable enough that I asked my chiropractor about it. It was really hard to describe how it felt, but the point is I could feel something, whereas before I never really felt anything in my ears. My chiropractor stuck an otoscope in my right ear to have a look and I almost cried from the sudden pain (otoscopes aren’t supposed to hurt). The left ear didn’t hurt as bad but it hurt. He said it looked irritated in my ears but not inflamed, and guessed that it was residual from a past ear infection. Since it had been going on for so long, there was no way to pinpoint when it started. There was also some impacted ear wax.

I felt that my ear problem was partially related to a subluxation in my neck, and my chiropractor agreed. After getting adjusted, I felt a little better but my ear problem did not go away. On my chiropractor’s advice, I put ear drops in my ears every night. I did this for two weeks, and the results were interesting. First of all, my ears got really itchy. I tried really hard not to go at my ears with a Q-tip but I could hardly bear the itching sometimes and just had to. Naturally, a lot of wax came out for a while. Then the wax eased up, and my ears began to actually ache. Surprisingly, the left one hurt more than the right. After about two weeks on the garlic oil ear drops, I decided to stop.

I went back to the chiropractor for another adjustment. Again it helped a little but was not enough. Then I got my copy of Gut and Pyschology Syndrome I had ordered and finished reading it. Low and behold, there was a chapter on glue ear and ear infections. I didn’t even know what glue ear was but after reading it I thought maybe that was what I had. I never really felt plugged up, but I guess you could say there was sort of a “sticky” feeling within my ears. Again, it’s really hard to describe, but it seemed quite possible there was extra fluid in there or at least an inflamed adenoid, which the author, Dr. Campbell-McBride, calls “ear tonsils.”

I felt a little silly that I had never studied the anatomy of the ears well enough to know that there were these “ear tonsils” or that the mouth and nose actually connect to the ears. Seriously, how did I not know that???

Campbell-McBride says that ear infections usually clear up on their own (which I’ve actually heard numerous times), but regardless of whether or not antibiotics are used to clear the infection, probiotics should be taken to repopulate the ears with good flora. This is where I feel silly again. I never even once thought about ears having natural protective flora in them. Yet it totally makes sense! The mouth does, the vagina does, the intestines do, the skin does. Yep, totally makes sense!

What you do is open up a high-quality probiotic capsule and put the powder in your mouth the very last thing before going to bed. The idea is that if you don’t swallow the probiotic then it has a chance to work it’s way up to the adenoids and then the eustachian tubes and middle ear and start to balance out the ear flora. The good guys settle in and the bad guys get kicked out. The inflammation of the adenoids (ear tonsils) calms down and fluid can then freely drain from the ear like it’s supposed to. Good bye glue ear and good bye ear infections.

I was quite excited to try this. The first night I put the probiotic powder right on my tongue but then my saliva went all kinds of crazy and I was forced to swallow a lot of it. But some of it stayed in, and the next day was like magic. My ears had stopped hurting and I barely noticed them all day. The next day wasn’t quite as dramatic but I still saw noticeable improvement. I learned to put the powder under my tongue and along the insides of my cheeks to avoid excess saliva production. Within just a few days my ears felt almost normal again.

I was determined to stick with this protocol for at least two weeks. My ears kept regaining a more normal feeling. After two weeks I felt fairly cured, except for this slight pulling sensation I get which I am sure is related to that subluxation in my neck. I have decided to keep with this practice for quite a while longer to make sure that good ear flora is truly established. The probiotics might even benefit my mouth and anything I swallow would hopefully benefit my gut. What’s to lose?

I had to wonder, if probiotics can clear up and prevent ear infections, then maybe it could help with sinus infections, too (makes sense, right?). Here is an article by The Healthy Home Economist that suggests using probiotics in a neti pot. I can’t help but wonder if putting the powder in the mouth overnight would help, too, but the neti pot is certainly more direct.


28 thoughts on “Healing Ear Infections with Probiotics

    1. Yes, I’ve been using Bio-kult and I like it. I think after I’ve been on it for a while I may switch things up and use another brand, just for the variety of strains.

  1. Hi Lisa: Fascinating that probiotics helped your ear infections. I’ll have to remember this!

    I couldn’t find your post where you discuss fasting… Can you add a search function to this blog?

  2. Thank you for this article! I have successfully helped my daughter with an ear infection, using probiotics and garlic mullein oil. You also inspired me to try this when I had a sore throat. It chased it away in one night! Amazing!

  3. so, you mention a probiotic here, but what is it? what are the name(s) of the beneficial bacteria? and where do you buy it? and to Marisa: where do you put the garlic mullein oil, and how much, in the ear? did you make it yourself? i have both of those on-hand, but have never made an oil…

      1. H Lisa! I bought the mullein garlic oil and followed the directions, a few drops in each ear. I do have directions pinned to make my own, but it seems it could go bad before I ever use it, and it takes a while to make.

      2. Hi Lisa, I’d love to try this but I have an allergy to milk. Details say it could have come in contact with dairy. Any other brand suggestions? Thanks!

  4. so, a little more information. I have had a cold for a while, and my whole family got the flu and more but i somehow missed all that. I still have this drainage feeling fairly frequently in the back of my throat, like when you are stopped up, but when i blow my nose its not that congested. so now im thinking its maybe my ears…i am still nursing and my daughter got flu then ear infection, and it may not have gone away completely or is coming back, and I am amazed if this is truely what is happening because when i nurse her, it usually kicks illness in the butt (as with many breastfed babies). so if it is true that i have something with MY ears, than that may be why i am not giving her what she needs to clear up HER ears, do y’all agree? somehow after reading this article this is starting to come together…i think?

    1. Though I can’t say what is going on with you or your baby, I would say that trying the probiotic method certainly shouldn’t hurt! It does sound like it could be in the ears. If you want to try this method with your baby, you would want to use a really small amount of probiotic or go with one formulated for babies. I think it’s a good idea for preventing ear infections from coming back.

    2. Babies and young children are susceptible to ear infections because the eustachian tube is shorter and horizontal making it more difficult for drainage to occur causing fluid to build behind the eardrum and ultimately ear infections. Not sure about the probiotic side of this but anatomy is largely to blame.

  5. Hi there, this artical is music to my ears! My youngest son is 21 months old and from 6 months has had an ongoing ear problem, where he has a very unsettled night and the following morning his ear drum will burst causing puss like fluid to pour from his ears this has now happened 30 times. I have tried all kinds of things and had no luck at all,much to my hesitation we have had many antibiotics from and ent specialist and they are now very keen to operate and put gromits in. I’m reluctant to the opp but can not see I have any other option and this will be causing life long hearing problems.
    Your probiotic treatment is new to me could you please give me any more information? I’m on my knees watching my poor baby go through this over and over again.

    1. Wow, Stephi, that sounds awful! If I were in your shoes, I’d definitely try the probiotics first!

      I’d recommend reading the chapter on ear infections in the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome, which is where I learned about this. It explains the ear anatomy and how this works. But if you want to start right away, get a good quality probiotic that is suitable for a young child, and just start putting it in your son’s mouth after he has fallen asleep (that might be tricky, I tried with my son once and his teeth were clamped shut lol). And just keep doing it, I’d say at least a few weeks, maybe even longer with your son’s condition. Of course, this is mom to mom advice, not medical advice! Good luck, I hope you don’t have to do the grommets!

  6. great oh so great. Yes I am reading all the way through Gut Book and love the suggestion to use the Bio Kult that way… I’ve been on it less than a week, thanks.

  7. Although this worked for you, it really isn’t a good idea to just take any random probiotic for any part of your body. Each body part benefits from a different type of flora, and what’s good for your stomach probably doesn’t matter in your ear or could even wipe out the ear’s good bacteria. As far as I’ve been able to find, the only bacterial strain that’s been proven to work for ears is called Bactoblis — the NIH has some papers on its website that detail its efficacy. Many different companies make it, but probably the most easily available one is made by NOW, and I believe is called OralBiotic. Since your mouth and ears are connected, you shouldn’t need to put the probiotic in your ear — just let the lozenge dissolve as slowly as possible in your mouth (and for this one it should absolutely be in lozenge form). If that doesn’t work, you could always try making it into a drop.

    1. Thank you so much for this info! I had thought there was probably different flora for different body parts. I am happy to hear there is a lozenge that will specifically benefit the ear. I am going to look for that!

  8. Just saw this post. Love it, when I google anything about probiotics and ears there is not much out there. This is very interesting, thx

  9. Hello,

    I came across your post as I was looking for some evidence for a probiotic prevention for my son’s ear infections. I want to prevent the cycle of cold to ear infection that occurs for him. I will try treating his infection in the manner you used. I’d be curious to hear if you’ve had a second experience of treating yours successfully or not (and if your first one ever cleared up fully).

    I have a passion for this topic as I have a history of recurrent UTI’s that I figured out how to prevent with probiotics (and like one of your commenters stated, only one probiotic that I’ve found works for it, as in probiotics like antibiotics are body-part specific). Unfortunately, treating the UTI with the probiotic fails, strangely.

    Incidentally, back to the head cold topic, I have success treating sinus infections with tea tree oil (administered by breathing in a hot water steam “bath” with a few drops of tea tree added, repeated several times a day).

    1. Hi Robyn. I am not totally sure if my first ear infection cleared 100%. I didn’t have problems again until maybe a couple years later? Maybe more? I did use the probiotics again, though less aggressively, and still got results. My friend uses tea tree for sinus infections as well, but through a neti pot (your way sounds gentler!). I know someone else who uses colloidal silver. I don’t get sinus infections, thank goodness!

  10. Recently had a real problem with tight pressure in the ears, ear wax buildup and then could’t hear out of my left ear and not much out of the right either. Very uncomfortable sensation and the doctor said there was an excessive buildup of wax in both ears. He recommended drops that melt the ear wax. They smelled like solvent and and after a few times I stopped using them, questioning their safety. My ears were still blocked the next day. Decided to take a high quality probiotic because of ongoing bowel problems. Almost immediately the pressure in the ears subsided and within a few hours I was hearing normally again, despite the earwax! Then I realized that the uncomfortable sensation had probably been swelling. Now I am thinking that the lower bowel flora and ear canals are somehow linked and if there is an imbalance in the gut flora, there may be problems in the ear canals! Interesting!

    1. Good evening Rose,

      Can you provide the name of the probiotic you utilized? I’ve been hurting with a chronic ear infection going on seven years now with no relief. Much obliged –

      1. I hope the probiotic helps you. Some other things you can try are constitutional homeopathy, chiropractic, eliminating food allergies, vitamin C saturation, and energy work.

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