Essential oils vs. viruses and bacteria related ear infections

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Acute otitis media is usually considered a simple bacterial infection that is treated with antibiotics. However, ample evidence derived from studies ranging from animal experiments to extensive clinical trials supports a crucial role for respiratory viruses in the etiology and pathogenesis of acute otitis media.  (Clin Microbiol Rev. 2003 Apr; 16(2): 230–241. doi:  10.1128/CMR.16.2.230-241.2003)

So what does that mean?  OM can be viral or bacterial.  The problem with this is if antibiotics are prescribed, and it is more viral, antibiotics do not have any effect on viruses, only bacteria.

Otitis Externa


Acute otitis externa is a common condition involving inflammation of the ear canal.  The acute form is caused primarily by bacterial infection, with Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus the most common pathogens.  Topical antimicrobials or antibiotics such as acetic acid, aminoglycosides, polymyxin B, and quinolones are the treatment of choice in uncomplicated cases.

However, there is no good evidence that any one antimicrobial or antibiotic preparation is clinically superior to another.

1.  Neomycin/polymyxin B/hydrocortisone preparations are a reasonable first-line therapy when the tympanic membrane is intact.

2. Oral antibiotics are reserved for cases in which the infection has spread beyond the ear canal or in patients at risk of a rapidly progressing infection.

Otitis externa, also called swimmer’s ear, involves diffuse inflammation of the external ear canal that may extend distally to the pinna and proximally to the tympanic membrane.  The acute form has an annual incidence of approximately 1 percent1 and a lifetime prevalence of 10 percent.2  On rare occasions, the infection invades the surrounding soft tissue and bone; this is known as malignant (necrotizing) otitis externa, and is a medical emergency that occurs primarily in older patients with diabetes mellitus.3 Otitis externa lasting three months or longer, known as chronic otitis externa, is often the result of allergies, chronic dermatologic conditions, or inadequately treated acute otitis externa.

A Miracle oil consumer contacted me regarding her son’s ear infection.  He was not able to make his Jiu-jitsu classes, and she had taken him to the ER.  Both ears were bleeding, which is very extreme for an ear infection.

Ear canal bleeding

Usually ear bleeding can be from Q-tips too hard on the canal, and at times can cause the ear to bleed.  There can be many possible causes to ear bleeding such as4:

Immunocompromise (eg, HIV),  Diabetes mellitus,  Narrow external auditory meatus (hereditary or acquired through chronic infection, exostoses),  Obstruction of normal meatus – eg, keratosis obturans, foreign body, hearing aid, hirsute ear canal.

If you or your child has an ear infection, or bleeding, you should immediately take the child to an ER.  Also, an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist may find the source.  Either way, you should treat this with utmost concern, and not to home diagnose it.

Our Miracle oil customer notified me of her concern.  She was very stressed due to her son’s bleeding along with his sense of hearing not normal.  I asked her had she taken him to the ER, and she stated she did, they had cleaned his ears and had him on antibiotics.  Many times ear infections can be resistant to antibiotics.  In a 2007 medical article on ear infections:

“Researchers have discovered a strain of bacteria resistant to all approved drugs used to fight ear infections in children, according to an article published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).   A pair of pediatricians discovered the strain because it is their standard practice to perform an uncommon procedure called tympanocentesis (ear tap) on children when several antibiotics fail to clear up their ear infections.  The procedure involves puncturing the child’s eardrum and draining fluid to relieve pressure and pain. Analyzing the drained fluid is the only way to describe the bacterial strain causing the infection.  Even after the ear tap and additional rounds of antibiotics, infections persisted in a small group of children in a Rochester, New York, pediatric practice, leading to ear tube surgery and, in one case, to permanent hearing loss.”

Very frightening.  She asked me if the Miracle oil could help as his pain and discomfort were difficult.  Of course, I told her I do not prescribe any type of medication, but we have had consumers with tinnitus (ringing in the ear) that have told us they have reduced their tinnitus when applying oil to the back of the ear.  So after his treatment by his PCP, her son had his ears cleaned.  His ears were still in pain.  I know ear wax can at times not be fully cleaned, even with alcohol.  She brought him by, and we did have qtips.  We put oil on the qtips, and gently applied around his back of his ear and gently around the ear.  Her son rubbed the oil with his finger inside of his ear.  We were shocked to see despite a cleaning from the ER, I had a feeling more wax would come out.  He actually felt some coming out, and he showed us on his fingertip.

He felt relieved, and we were very happy to see the use.  Our consumer sent us this testimoial via email:

“On 4/12/2017 my son went to the ER for earache.  He had two ear infections.  DX was Otitis Externa, also known as “swimmer’s ear”.  Per D/C instructions this is treated by cleaning and drying the ear.  Antibiotic drops are then placed in the ear canal several times a day.  This is supposed to help with swelling and irritation.  Symptoms should start to clear in 2 – 3 days according to the paper work.  Well, it did not clear up and we went to PCP (Primary Care Physician) a couple of days later because my son began to complain about not being able to hear.  PCP said the infection had gotten worse and prescribed another antibiotic that he would take orally.  Still this earache was not improving fast enough.  I called William and stressed my concern.  As any mother would, I took him into class on the 18th.  My son had missed 3 days of school at this point and did not feel like being in class.  William of course whipped out his trusty St. Jude’s Miracle Oil.  He also instructed us to apply oil to neck, ears, and to hold his hand to his nose and smell the oil.  We did.  Within no time at all the hard wax appeared to soften and the wax was coming out of the ear.  By the end of class my son was smiling and his whole mood had changed.  When he woke the next day I asked him how his ear felt.  He said, “It feels great!”  I didn’t continue with any antibiotics and only used the oil for the next two days.  He was 100% by that next day after 1st application of the oil into the ear!!  – J”

That’s very nice of her, but of course always see your PCP so they can determine initial treatment.  So, we have seen plenty of anecdotal evidence and data, testimonials, but how can essential oils possibly aid with ear infections?  I chewed through the NCBI and Pubmed journals that I use for research quite often.  Some references are from past articles, but I found an interesting coincidence with NCBI studies and bacteria:

Essential oils in NCBI vs. inflammation, microbials, pain, bacteria, fungi

The medicinal properties of peppermint oil are analgesic, anti-septic, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial, among others5.

Clove bud has anti-infectious properties include: anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal effects6,7.

Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Geranium vs. Bacteria, fungi.  Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Geranium Essential oils were tested for antibacterial activity against 22 bacteria, including Gram-positive cocci and rods and Gram-negative rods, and twelve fungi (3 yeast-like and 9 filamentous) by the disc diffusion method.  Eucalyptus and peppermint oil were effective against all the 22 bacterial strains.  Geranium oils were inhibitory to 15 and 12 bacterial strains, respectively.  All twelve fungi were inhibited by geranium.  Eucalyptus and peppermint oils were effective against eleven fungi.8

Peppermint antibiotic properties.  In study, oils exhibited antibacterial activity in all three assays, however peppermint oil and two others were most potent antibacterial activity, and study shows peppermint being more potent than the antibiotic rifaximin.9

Clove bud vs. E. coli.  Of different oils tested, for antibacterial activity against the foodborne pathogens Escherichia coli O157:H7 in a bactericidal assay in terms of % of the sample that resulted in a 50% decrease in the number of bacteria (BA50).10

Peppermint vs. bacterial pathogens.  In an in vitro study published in 2001 in “Microbios,” researchers found that peppermint essential oils inhibited the growth of many common bacterial pathogens, including E. coli, H. pylori, S. aureus, salmonella and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. They concluded that peppermint oil showed potential as an antibacterial agent.11

Peppermint oil vs. Helicobacter pylori, Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coli O157:H7, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methicillin sensitive Staphylococccus aureus (MSSA)12

four major constituents of the esssential oil of peppermint, and of three major constituents of the essential oil of spearmint, on the proliferation of Helicobacter pylori, Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coli O157:H7, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methicillin sensitive Staphylococccus aureus (MSSA) were examined. The essential oils and the various constituents inhibited the proliferation of each strain in liquid culture in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, they exhibited bactericidal activity in phosphate-buffered saline. The antibacterial activities varied among the bacterial species tested but were almost the same against antibiotic-resistant and antibiotic-sensitive strains of Helicobacter pylori and S. aureus. Thus, the essential oils and their constituents may be useful as potential antibacterial agents for inhibition of the growth of pathogens.  For more references, you can review studies on essential oils below I have pulled from NCBI and Pubmed references in a past article you can go to.13

1. Peppermint effect on Influenza, viruses.  2. Eucalyptus antibacterial effect against multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria.  3. Lavender effect against MSSA and MRSA.  4. Geranium, lavender essential oils anti-bacterial activity.  5. Eucalyptus effect against MRSA.  6. Lavender against antibiotic-restistant bacteria.  7. Lavender oil, clary sage oil against Staph.  8. Antimicrobial activity of geranium oil against clinical strains of Staphylococcus aureus.  9. Eucalyptus, Lavender, Clove Bud andPeppermint  effective antiseptic topical treatment for MRSA and antimycotic-resistant Candida species.  10. Myrrh oils have potential against  Staphylococcus aureus.  11. Myrrh antibacterial, antifungal activity against pathogenic strains E coli, Staph, Pseudomonas and Candida.  12. Frankincense (Boswellia serrata) effective against Staphylococcus.  13. Wintergreen acts as an anti-inflammatory  and antimicrobial agent

If you have a child with hearing loss, or possible ear infection, take him to an ER or your PCP.  You can also make an appointment with an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist for any testing of hearing loss, infection, ruptured drums and many other conditions related with ear infections or conditions.


1. Rowlands S, Devalia H, Smith C, Hubbard R, Dean A. Otitis externa in UK general practice: a survey using the UK General Practice Research Database. Br J Gen Pract. 2001;51(468):533–538.

2. Raza SA, Denholm SW, Wong JC. An audit of the management of acute otitis externa in an ENT casualty clinic. J Laryngol Otol. 1995;109(2):130–133.

3. Rubin Grandis J, Branstetter BF IV, Yu VL. The changing face of malignant (necrotising) external otitis: clinical, radiological, and anatomic correlations. Lancet Infect Dis. 2004;4(1):34–39.


5. Mullally BH, James JA, Coulter WA, Linden GJ. The efficacy of a herbal-based toothpaste on the control of plaque and gingivitis. J Clin Periodontol. 1995;22(9):686–9.

6. Antifungal activity of the clove essential oil from aromaticum on Candida, Aspergillus and dermatophyte species Euge´ nia Pinto,1 Luı´s Vale-Silva,1 Carlos Cavaleiro2 and Lı´gia Salgueiro2

7. Curr Med Chem. 2003 May;10(10):813-29.Antibacterial and antifungal properties of essential oils. Kalemba D, Kunicka A.Source Institute of General Food Chemistry, Technical University of Lodz,Poland.

8. Microbios. 1996;86(349):237-46.  Antibacterial and antifungal activity of ten essential oils in vitro.  Pattnaik S1, Subramanyam VR, Kole C.

9. Antimicrobial efficacy of five essential oils against oral pathogens: An in vitro study Nilima Thosar,1 Silpi Basak,2 Rakesh N. Bahadure,3 and Monali Rajurkar2

10. Comparison of the antibacterial activity of essential oils and extracts of medicinal and culinary herbs to investigate potential new treatments for irritable bowel syndrome Aiysha Thompson,#1 Dilruba Meah,#1 Nadia Ahmed,#1 Rebecca Conniff-Jenkins,1 Emma Chileshe,1 Chris O Phillips,2 Tim C Claypole,2 Dan W Forman,3 and Paula E Rowcorresponding author1

11. Antibacterial Activities of Plant Essential Oils and Their Components against Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella enterica in Apple Juice

12. Inhibition by the essential oils of peppermint and spearmint of the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Imai H1, Osawa K, Yasuda H, Hamashima H, Arai T, Sasatsu M.