Often, some of the best fixes for mild illnesses, come from tried-and-true remedies that have been passed down from generation to generation.
While traditional medicine certainly has its place—and if the illness does not improve or worsens, you should always get the advice of a medical professional—many times grandma’s odd cure is just what the doctor didn’t order.
When it comes to childhood earaches, nothing is more frustrating as both a parent and a child. They come on quickly and they can be excruciatingly painful.
And even if you race your child to the doctor, there is often not much he or she can do, unless it is infected, in which case, they will pull out the old standby—antibiotics.
Many times, however, the earache can actually be treated at home safely and easily without the need for all too often, overprescribed medications.
It’s Used Everywhere
According to author Dr. Lillian Beard, who wrote the book, “Salt in Your Sock and Other Tried-And-True Home Remedies,” applying a sock full of coarse sea salt to a painful ear can draw the fluid out of the ear, thus relieving the pain until you can get to a doctor.
In an interview with the CBC on July 2003, Beard told reporters that she traveled all around the world gathering information for her book. She would ask her patients about the treatments and remedies they use at home. And what is interesting is that so many of the remedies were the same regardless of culture.
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Dr. Dana Clum, a family chiropractor and natural health advocate in Patchogue, NY, also recommends the “salt in the sock” remedy to her patients.
She has a few other tips for parents, however, stating that the best things for an ear infection are regular adjustments, allowing a fever to kill the infection and using a salt rock to help the body heal. Here are her suggestions:
- Get adjusted–misalignments in the upper cervical area (the upper neck) have been related to chronic ear infections in children.
- Do NOT lower the fever–the body raises its temperature to kill the bacteria. If we lower that temperature we are interfering with the body’s natural defense mechanism and could prolong the infection.
- Use a SALT SOCK for relief while you give the body time to heal.
How To Use The “Salt Sock”
A “salt Sock” is exactly what it sounds like—a sock filled with salt. But according to the experts (generations of mothers), not any salt will do. You will need Coarse Sea Salt.
According to Livestrong.com, you may also want to use Himalayan salt if you have a large chunk (you can get this at a health food store). Himalayan salt has many other health benefits, but it can become quite expensive for this purpose.
You will also need a clean, white cotton sock. Again, not any sock will do, it needs to be cotton as it is a natural material that does not have any of the synthetic chemicals you find in non-cotton materials.
For the same reason, you should make sure you do not use a coloured sock—no colors anywhere as colored thread can contain flammable materials that when heated, have the potential to combust.
What you need:
- 1 – 1 ½ cups coarse sea salt.
- 1 pinch of dried lavender
- 1 all white, cotton sock
- Carefully pour the salt and lavender into the sock and tie a knot (or double knot) at the end—The salt sock should be about the size of your hand.
- Heat the sock in a clean skillet, over medium to low heat for about 4-6 minutes.
- Pick up the sock and shake it; flip it every minute or so, so it will heat evenly.
- Heat until it is warm— but not burning to the touch.
- Have your child rest their ear directly onto the sock like a pillow. (This also works for adults.) Make sure the sock covers both the ear and the area behind the jaw.
- Relax and let the warmth from the salt work to drain the fluid from the ear.
- You can reuse the salt sock, although it will discolor after a while. Replace with a new one when it gets too old, dirty or worn.
How Does the Salt Sock Work?
Salt has long been known as an antiseptic and diuretic. The warm salt helps pull the moisture from the ear and the antiseptic properties of the salt helps kill any bacteria.
The lavender is also calming and the aroma of the warm flower will help ease your child through the pain.
The salt will also retain the heat for some time as it drains the fluid, it will lessen the pressure in the ear and hence the pain.