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Mama MaidenShade’s Medicine Show

June 2, 2009

Swim Anyone? (Frankie) Okay, we’ll lighten it up a bit from yesterday’s CSS lesson.  We’re comin’ on summer here in SW Florida.  That means frequently jumping into the large bathtub we call a swimming pool, which oftentimes results in water being pushed into Mr. MaidenShade’s ears.

I don’t think a year goes by that he doesn’t have a double ear infection.  Now being the complacent type, he doesn’t mind using conventional medicine.  I, on the other had, have a healthy skepticism in regard to it.

The other steamy-time ailments include allergies, sinusitis, and summer styes or other eye irritations. 

Here are a few of my “tried and true” recipes, things I’ve actually used and that worked for me and my family.  I’ve also included some that I found on the internet that different people said worked.

Got a bubble in your ear?  I had one and this took it right out!  Use after each swim if you’re prone to swimmer’s ear.



  • 1 fluid ounce vinegar
  • 1 fluid ounce rubbing alcohol


  1. Mix the vinegar and alcohol in a small (sterilized) dropper bottle.
  2. After swimming or bathing, dry the ears well and add a few drops to each canal, leave head tilted for a few minutes. Turn head over to drain.
  3. Remember, don’t put anything into your ear canal smaller than your elbow (especially cotton swabs)!


  • Grandma and Ben SwimmingFirst off, you should always dry both ears thoroughly after you bathe or swim, whether you have an ear infection or not. Having moisture inside your ears makes a fertile breeding ground for germs and bacteria. You can use a blow dryer for this purpose. Hold the dryer in one hand while you gently pull down one earlobe. Set the dryer on "low" and hold it about eighteen inches away from your ear. Aim the blow dryer at your ear and let it dry your inner ear for twenty seconds or so. Then, repeat the process with your other ear.
  • The most effective natural treatment for ear infections and/or pain is probably to mix up a couple natural oils and use them as ear drops. You can find natural oils at your local health food store. Or, perform a search on the Internet and order some online.
    Tea tree oil and olive oil seem to work the best. Mix together an eighth of a cup of Tea Tree oil and the same amount of olive oil in a resealable container. Use an eye dropper and place two or three drops of the mixture into each inner ear canal. If you gently warm the drops first by placing them on a metal teaspoon and holding a lit match underneath, they’ll feel more soothing inside your ears.
  • I found a number of sources who recommended opening a garlic oil capsule and squeezing the contents into your ear canal, others swore on this one or variations thereof:  one began by smashing raw garlic, mixing it with olive oil, straining and inserting the oil.  Another hearty soul mixed both smashed garlic AND raw onion, mixed the mush with olive oil (also called “sweet” oil in health food stores) and used that strained infusion (although one oil and garlic-touting guy actually said he put it in his ear “chunks and all”. He said he was in so much pain he was crying and this cured his ear infection.)  I have not tried garlic or onion personally.  But if it hurt enough, I would!
  • TIP: When you apply the ear drops (do this a couple times each day), you can insert cotton balls in your ears to keep the oils from running out.
  • You can also make a steam bath, of sorts, that helps calm ear infections. Eucalyptus and any mint oil are excellent choices. Place boiling water in a small bowl or metal pan. Stir in a few drops of the Eucalyptus oil and a few drops of mint oil. Lean your head over the bowl and place a clean towel over top. Inhale the aromas and feel your head clear. Do this a couple times each day to help clear out the ear infection.

Some other home remedies are:

  • increasing zinc intake to reduce ear infections
  • increasing vitamin C to prop up the immune system for tackling infection
  • arranging a healthy diet with large amount of calcium
  • avoiding processed foods and hydrogenated oils
  • breast feeding infants
  • avoiding passive smoking and contact with ill people
  • avoiding touching nose and ears
  • washing hands periodically

Before the advent of antibiotics, the following home remedies were in vogue.

  • pressing a warm water bottle, a bag with dried beans or warm bag of salt (warm for 1-2 minutes in the microwave) held against the ear.
  • Remember, drops of tea tree oil, garlic, onion and the like do have mild anti-bacterial properties, but could irritate the skin. Listen to your body and discontinue use if it is irritating your skin.


This was a prescription from my allergist.  He also recommends trying plain saline, which any pharmacy can get for you without a prescription.  I like the kind that comes in a spray, has a nozzle/stem that you insert in your nostril and it is under pressure.  It is gentle, effective, and convenient.  But, this is cheaper:

  • Now I mix my own:  1/8 t. salt, 1/2 c. water, and 1 pinch baking soda. This is cheap enough to mix daily and throw away the excess.  
  • My applicator of choice is a child’s dosing syringe (a needle-free syringe of any kind may be used).  Target store pharmacies will give you a pretty decent dosing syringe free, if you ask where you could find one!  I tried a baby nose bulb too – either is fine.


Plain water compress

My Poor Eye!If your local area has clean tap water and your eyes do not have an allergic reaction to the water, you may be able to use plain warm water for an eye compress. Be sure to use a freshly clean washcloth. Alternatively, you can use 2 or 3 lint-free tissues instead of a washcloth for the compress. 

Alternatively, to make sure that the compress is sterile, boil the water first, let it cool to warm or lukewarm, and then use it for the compress. NEVER use hot water for a compress if you have severely dry eyes or severe blepharitis or meibomianitis — hot water might "burn" your eyelids, making them feel worse instead of better.

Plain water plus (a very small amount of) vinegar compress

Before using a vinegar compress, first put a drop of artificial tears in each eye, such as Refresh Lubricant Eye Drops. Add 1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar to 2 or 3 cups of clean water, and then use a clean washcloth (or 2 or 3 lint-free squares instead of a washcloth) for the compress.

Baking soda compress

  1. Boil distilled water for 10 minutes in a clean, stainless steel pan that you use only for this purpose (not for food).
  2. Pour one cup of the boiled water into a clean pyrex measuring cup, and dissolve 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (not baking powder) in the water. Use a measuring cup and measuring spoon that are used only to make the compress (not for food).
  3. Set the water aside until it is lukewarm.

Caution!     Typically, you are told to use a warm (possibly even a hot) compress. However, even a warm compress can sometimes "burn" the eyelids of a person with very sensitive eyelids. If a warm compress hurts your eyes, use a lukewarm compress instead.

  1. Wash your hands, and then dip a clean wash cloth (or two or three lint-free squares) in the lukewarm water. If you have eye allergies or are prone to get eye infections or styes, use the lint-free squares rather than a washcloth. Apply the compress to your eyes for five to ten minutes. The compress softens the hard caps that clog the eyelid’s oil glands.
  2. When finished, if you have short fingernails, your hands are clean, and you are not wearing hand lotion, gently massage your eyelids near the eyelashes, or gently pinch the eyelids near the eyelashes. This helps free oil from your eyelids into your eyes.
  3. Discard the excess solution. When you want another compress, make it again from scratch.


Do you have a tried and true home remedy?  Post it here and I’ll create another page in my recipe section just for this kind of thing!

Happy Summer!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 2, 2009 12:21 pm

    I stamped and embossed the images on the card yesterday then used watercolor crayons to color it. I did list the double slide mailer but no one has bought it yet.

    Glad to hear you are continuing to destash. Hope your doctors appointment goes well.

    The Etsy Challenge has been taking up a lot of my time so I understand you being busy with other things right now. I agree the whole listing thing is definitely a process. Hopefully worth it in the end though.

    I am so glad you shared this information. I have had 2 ear infections in the last 6 months and don’t want to take anymore antibiotics. I am going to the ENT today to see why this keeps happening. I am also going to talk to him about my mouth problem then too.

    Hope this week is better for you!

  2. June 2, 2009 3:12 pm

    Great advice and cute pictures. I just wandered over to DeStash. What a great idea Jennifer. I hope that you are feeling well, I noticed you said you were off to the Doc’s. I have days where I get right bogged down with stuff going on and don’t get around as often as I should, but you are most definitely on my list of favorite bloggers!

  3. June 2, 2009 3:53 pm

    Himself is always suffering from styes – so I will definitely try this recipe. Thanks so much!

  4. June 2, 2009 6:37 pm

    Wow! A wealth of treatments, good deal!
    Fairy day is a day set aside for those who like faries, pixies, elves. You can celebrate anyway you wish, all yours would fit in nicely.

  5. June 2, 2009 8:49 pm

    Wow, I hadn’t heard of some of those ~ will have to pass these on to my daughter as they just put in a pool & someone is bound to need these treatments!

    Adorable kitty!

    Angelic Accents

  6. June 3, 2009 1:39 am

    It sounds like you have been busy busy busy! I know you’ll feel so much better when you get everything organized though. I hope you are feeling better. i’ve been having allergy headaches for the last week so I am feeling your pain. I’ve never had them before, just the stuffy, sneezy nose and red itchy eyes. Your post had to take you a great while to do! There is a lot of useful information in there, I hope it comes in handy for someone. I don’t think I’ve been in a pool, other than a kiddie one, for over 15 years. The one swimsuit I have sits in the back of my drawer unworn and lonely. Poor thang!

  7. June 3, 2009 8:04 am

    Hi Jennifer! This is great advice! Thank you for sharing this! I am suffering allergy and sinus symptoms right NOW unfortunately.. but I was most impressed with the info for ear infections…. Oh, and I can’t forget.. I had to say I LOVE the picture of your cat sitting poolside in the tube! How CUTE!!

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