Fact Check: NO Evidence That Garlic Relieves 'Pain In Ears' -- Doctor Says It Might Make Ear Infections Worse

Fact Check

  • by: Kaiyah Clarke
Fact Check: NO Evidence That Garlic Relieves 'Pain In Ears' -- Doctor Says It Might Make Ear Infections Worse Not Advised

Does garlic relieve "pain in ears"? No, there's no evidence to substantiate that claim: An ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician with the University of Kansas Health System tells Lead Stories, "While some garlic extracts possess antimicrobial properties their effectiveness in treating ear infections has not been proven and in some situation may even make ear symptoms worse."

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) on December 19, 2021. It includes a meme that depicts a cartoon-like image of a garlic clove and a piece of garlic in an ear. Under the title, "DID YOU KNOW," it reads:

Garlic helps remove pain in ears, ear infections, and headaches quickly and effectively. Simply, put a cleaned garlic clove in your ear - it fits perfectly in ear, as an earplugs until you feel relief!

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Dec 22 20:41:21 2021 UTC)

The post does not cite any source or even anecdotal accounts to back up the claim.

A doctor whose specialization includes ear problems says garlic in the ear could have the opposite effect of relieving pain.

Dr. Keith Sale, an ENT physician and vice president of ambulatory services at the University of Kansas Health System, said in an email to Lead Stories on December 22, 2021 (highlighting one sentence for emphasis):

Ear infections can most commonly be categorized as either otitis externa, infection in the ear canal, or otitis media, infection behind the ear drum. Many cases of both otitis externa and otitis media may resolve on their own within a couple weeks using the body's own natural defenses. Because of this tendency, many people will attribute resolution of an infection to a naturopathic remedy like sticking a clove of garlic in the ear. Unfortunately, there are times when otitis externa and otitis media infections don't get better with time or worsen over a short period of time. While some garlic extracts possess antimicrobial properties their effectiveness in treating ear infections has not been proven and in some situation may even make ear symptoms worse. If you have symptoms of an ear infection getting the appropriate topical or systemic antibiotics that have been researched and then approved by physician groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Medicine, and the American Academy of Otolaryngology is the safest way to ensure a rapid recovery.

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  Kaiyah Clarke

Kaiyah Clarke is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Journalism. When she is not fact-checking or researching counter-narratives in society, she is often found reading a book on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Read more about or contact Kaiyah Clarke

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