Chronic Inner Ear Infection, Complementary and Alternative Healing University

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Chronic Inner Ear and Middle Ear Infection  (in English and Chinese 中英文)

By : Joe Hing Kwok Chu      按此看中文

Infection of the ear is called otitis. The ear, anatomically,  can be viewed as three different parts: outer ear, middle ear and inner ear.

Outer ears are the parts that stick out from both sides of the head and are cartilages that are covered with skin.  The outer ears together with the ear canals channel sound to the eardrums.

The middle ears consist of the eardrums and three tiny bones on each ear called ossicles that amplify the vibrations from the eardrum and send them to the inner ears.

The inner ears consist of vestibules and cochleae, which convert vibration of the sound into electrical impulses that are transmitted to the brain.

Usually the infections of the middle ear are being referred to as inner ear infections by the general public. Medically the the inner ear infection is called otitis interna which is not uncommon.

Middle Ear Infection

Otitis media, the inflammation of the middle ear can be classified into:

(1) simple infection of the inner ear, and

(2) cholesteatoma and

(3)  bone infection.

The latter two categories can develop complications that can be life threatening.

Conservative  treatments are not effective on the latter two categories. Usually surgery is the solution. Herb therapy is appropriate on the simple type of infection.

The above classification is more commonly used in China by modern medical schools.

There is no unanimous agreement on how middle ear infection (otitis media) should be classified. Most authorities have classified otitis media as the following :

I. Acute

    A. Acute otitis media without effusion:

        also called: Catarrhal otitis media, Baro-otitis,  Acute myringitis.

    B. Acute otitis media with effusion:

          also called: Acute serous otitis media

    C. Acute purulent otitis media

II. Chronic

    A. Chronic serious otitis media

        also called: Persistent otitis media with effusion

    B. Chronic purulent otitis media with perforated ear-drum and discharge

    C. Chronic otitis media with chronic mastoiditis and cholesteatoma

    D. Chronic adhesive otitis media 

III. Specific otitis media with underlying systemic disease

    A. Tuberculosis

    B. Sarcoidosis

    C. Wegener's granulomatosis

Inner Ear Infections

Inner ear infections, otitis interna, or labyrinthitis, associated with infection, are often caused by infections elsewhere in the body such as respiratory disease, like throat infection or sinus infection . The causes of these infections are difficult to determine.

Antibiotics are usually used for symptoms as they occur. Vertigo or motion sickness can be caused by bacterial infections. Usually meclizine hydrochloride is used for vertigo.

Simple middle ear and inner ear infection can be treated with herbs. Diagnosis should be made by professional health care specialists because inner ear infections may have serious underlying causes.

There are hundreds of formulae being used in simple chronic middle and inner ear infections. The ingredients are easy to get and are inexpensive.

Formula #1: folk formula

Formula #2: folk formula

Formula #3: folk formula

Formula #4: classical Chinese medicine formula

Formula #1

Uses:  For cutting down infection, swelling and getting rid of toxins. Can be used for inner ear infection.

Ingredients: walnut oil 5 cc, bing pian (Borneo camphor) 1.5 gram, huang lian powder 1 gram.

Dry several walnuts in low heat.  Grind into powder. Steam for 40 minutes. Press to get oil. Heat oil until all water evaporates. (Watch with a thermometer. It is hot enough when the thermometer registers 130 degrees centigrade. Turn the heat off immediately or the oil will burn). Cool it down.

Wash huang lian thoroughly with warm and previously boiled water and dry on low heat.  Grind the  bing pian (Borneo camphor) and huang lian into a fine powder and mix with cooled oil.

Make sure that all ingredients are clean.

Use 2 to 3 drops a day. (External use, not to be taken internally.)

Experience: used by 80 patients. All healed. Revisited after one year. No recurrence found.

Source: Chen Bian Qain, Health Department of Miao Shi Zhen, Chi Li District, Hunan Province, China.

Formula #2


Walnuts (it is better to get those of two years old) , 2 pieces.

 bing pian (Borneo camphor), about 2-3 grams ground into powder.

Wrap the walnuts in fine cloth. Smash and squeeze out the oil. Add Borneo camphor to the oil. Before applying the mixture, clean ear with lukewarm, previously boiled water. Use 2-3 drops of the mixture in the ear once or twice a day.

This formula came from a minority race in China, the Chinese Turkistanese of  Xinjiang.  Provided by a retired government official, Wang Qi Pu of Bo Ai, District of GuangXi province, China.

Formula #3

Use he zi. 50 grams and mu xiang 50 grams. Grind the two ingredients into a fine powder and strain with fine strainer. Use 3 grams each time, mix with 100 cc of water and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool and drink it. Repeat 3 to 4 times a day.

No long term side effects or toxicity.

It can be taken orally or can be used as drops for the ear. Both are effective.

source: Inner Mongolia, Alasan Mongolian Medical Research Department, China.

Provided by Fan Zuorbu.

This is a formula from Inner Mongolian ethnic group, a Chinese minority.

Formula #4

Classical Chinese herb formula:

long dan xie gan wan  (in pill form, available over the counter in Chinese herb store)

Use 9 grams, 3 times a day. Ten days is a treatment period.

Usually 1 to 2 treatment periods will produce satisfactory results.

Do not use this formula for a long period of time.  Stop using it when symptoms have subsided.

source: Lan Shi Mi Cang

It can also be taken tea form:


long dan cao 6 g, huang qin 9 g, shan zhi zi 9 g, ze xie 12 g,

mu tong 9 g, che qian zi 9 g, chai hu 6 g, gan cao 6 g, sheng di 9 g.

Boil with water. One prescription a day, made into two servings.

Stop taking when symptoms subside. Do not take it for a long time.


Rinse herb with water. Add about 3 bowls of water and simmer it down to about one bowl. Use as tea.

Avoid eating spicy food.

Warning: This formula can be toxic to the kidneys because of the herb mu tong. There are different varieties of mu tong in the market. Before the Qing dynasty, however, it was not toxic because mu tong was derived from either the plant of Akebia guinata or the plant Akebia lobata.  Today, ninety five percent of mu tong (guan mu tong 關木通) used in China is from the stem of Aristolochia debilis, a toxic plant usually grown in the northeastern provinces of China, formally called Manchuria. Only rarely in a few localities in China, is mu tong obtained from Akebia guinata or Akebia lobata being used. Many cases of kidney failure have been reported in the China from taking this formula.Today in China, all manufactured formulae that contain guan mu tong (Aristolochia debilis) are being banned because of the toxicity to the kidneys.

If you use this formula, make sure you are not using guan mu tong. Use chuan chuan mu tong or huai tong, or bai mu tong tong instead.

All these herbs are commonly available in Chinese herb stores. The real Borneo camphor sometimes is difficult to find in the West because it is in high demand in China.

Click here to see other folk remedies of Chinese ethnic minority groups.

Certain groups of qigong can be used to strengthen the immune system.


Formula in Chinese    中耳炎方


訶 子 50克,木 香 50克。磨成細粉。混均。


龍膽瀉肝丸《方源:蘭室秘藏  》


龍膽草200克﹐黃 芩100克 ﹐山梔(薑治) 100克﹐澤瀉200克 ﹐木 通100克﹐車前子(鹽 制)100克﹐柴 胡200克﹐當 歸100克 ﹐甘草100克 ﹐生 地100克﹐


用法﹕每 日三次。每次9克。兒童用量酌減。飯後溫 開水送服。10天為一療程。一般服一至二療程即得有效。忌辛辣刺激食物。脾胃虛弱者不宜久服。

注意﹕  木通有幾種。現在市場上賣的 95% 是關木通, 屬于馬兜鈴科 ﹐對腎臟有毒。凡含有關 木通的成藥已被禁賣。如没有川木通可不用。


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 Last update: Nov 10, 2014. 12:22 a,m. LAH