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Ear Infections and Traditional Chinese Medicine

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The following is based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM is based on the observation that everything is a combination of opposites: yin (cold, cleansing) and yang (hot, building), many of which we control through diet, exercise, sex, environment, thought, etc.

There are two types of ear infections, inflammation (otitis): external and internal. External otitis, also know as swimmers ear, affects the outer ear. It is generally caused by an upper respiratory infection. Otitis media affects the middle ear (behind the eardrum) and is common in infants and children. The Eustachian (connects naso-pharynx and middle ear) and auditory tubes (connect the ear to the back of the nasal cavity) regulate air pressure, temperature and moisture. Low pressure, colder temperatures tend to increase moisture, water in the ears, especially in young children, babies. Excess moisture, water in the ear canals and Eustachian tubes can accumulate, stagnate and fester, attracting and feeding bacteria and viruses that inflame and pressurize the ear causing an earache: sharp, dull or throbbing pain, feeling of fullness in the ear and or a high fever (as high as 103 F). High altitude and or colder temperatures increase discomfort and infection.

The ears (connected to the nasal cavity) are susceptible to an external or internal attack of cold and damp. Cold and damp air travels with the wind and easily penetrates the nose, mouth and ears. In the extreme, this tends to cause condensation in the ears. Cold condenses. In nature, winter cold cools, hardens and condenses water in air into rain, snow and ice. In the body, cold condenses fluids in the lungs, nose, throat, sinuses, mouth, ears, etc. into water, mucous and phlegm. Bacteria and viruses thrive in stagnant, watery mediums (mucous, phlegm, cysts, urine, etc.) before inflaming and infecting.

Middle ear infections are common in children. Children tend to be weak, cold as they are still developing. This weakness, lack of energy, heat makes them more susceptible to cold and damp, external and internal.

Internally, the body is heated in many ways via digestion, circulation, locomotion, etc. all of which are heated fueled by blood, nutrients, protein and fat. Protein and fat build and fuel all structure and function.

Digestion is a major source of heat within the body. Three meals per day activate digestion, acid, enzymes and bile in the stomach and small intestines (twenty-two feet in length), which in turn, generates heat, much in the same way, a car engine heats the car. Heat from digestion naturally rises into the lungs, throat, mouth, nose, sinuses and ears, heating and drying.

The lungs (includes throat, nose, sinuses, etc.) are naturally moist. Moisture, water facilitates the exchange of gases (oxygen, carbon dioxide. Too much or too little weakens the exchange, which in turn, disrupts the breath and or causes infection, inflammation, etc.

Weak digestion (common in children) generates less heat, causing a temperature drop and subsequent cooling and moistening (water, mucous and phlegm) of the lungs, nose, throat, etc. In nature, te cold temperatures of evening, night time thicken and harden water in the air into the morning dew. In winter, cold temperatures thicken, harden water in the air into rain, snow and ice. In the body, colder temperatures thicken, harden water in the lungs, nose, throat ad sinuses into mucous and phlegm.

Low protein, low fat (milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, beans, nuts and seeds) and high carbohydrate diets, in the extreme, weaken, cool and dilute digestion (acid, enzymes), elimination (loose stools), respiration (mucous, phlegm), ears (water, infection, inflammation), immunity (tendency to catch colds), etc. Milk and cereal are cold damp as is orange juice. Hot cereals with a little cinnamon or ginger are more warming, building.

The middle diet, meal plan including spices (cumin, coriander fennel, cayenne, ginger, etc.) is recommended. Use spices in soups, stews, desserts, etc. Spices increase digestion and dry dampness: excess fluids: mucous, phlegm, loose stools, edema, cellulite, etc. Ginger or cinnamon can be used in cookies, desserts. Vegetables (carrots, yams) and fruits (apples, pineapple, etc.) can be used as sweeteners, to reduce sugar cravings. Cooked foods, soups, stews, protein and fat stimulate, warm the body: lungs, digestive organs etc Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream, salads, tropical fruits, smoothies, shakes and cold drinks cool and moisten the body.

Garlic or peppermint oil drops in the ear are commonly used as they dry dampness while fighting infection. Ear cones, candles are used for the same reason. The candles are placed in the ear and set on fire. As the cone, candle burns down, it absorbs water, dries the ear. There are different types of ear candles. Ear candles with wax may drip excess wax into the ears.


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