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Fact Check: Post claiming garlic is remedy for ear infections, headache is misleading; experts dismissed the viral claim

Viral post claiming that putting a garlic clove in your ear can reduce pain, infection and headache is misleading.

  • By Vishvas News
  • Updated: January 31, 2022

New Delhi (Vishvas News): Netizens on Facebook are sharing a post which claims that treating an ear problem is as simple as putting garlic in your ear. “Did you know? 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 earplug (sic) until you feel relief,” reads the text of a Facebook post. Vishvas News investigated the post and found it to be misleading. We spoke to renowned specialists who dismissed the viral claim.

Claim

A social media post reads: “Did you know? 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 (sic) until you feel relief.

The archived version of the post can be checked here.

Investigation

Vishvas News started its investigation by going through some researches that showed that consuming garlic has many health benefits. Although the mechanism is not widely known, studies have shown that consuming garlic or garlic oil extract has antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiprotozoal properties. Although garlic contains these properties, it doesn’t mean that it can fight off infection without any other medical intervention.

Dr. Abhishek Juneja, Consultant Neurologist at Maharaja Agrasen Hospital, Punjabi Bagh, practicing at Dr. Juneja’s Neuro Centre, told Vishvas News that: “Despite the extensive ongoing research on the neuroprotective and antioxidative effects of garlic for decades, no conclusive scientific evidence exists to validate its effectiveness in relieving headache.” He added that putting a whole garlic clove inside one’s ear may not be the best thing to do.

Speaking to Vishvas News, Dr. Aparna Mahajan, Consultant- ENT, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad opines: “Garlic has many health benefits when consumed. But as far as the ear is concerned it should not be directly put in the ear. If ear pain or discomfort persists or is associated with fever, loss of hearing, or severe headache or dizziness, one should seek advise from an ENT specialist. You should never put anything in your ears due to the risk of worsening the infection.

Dr. Rahul Sharma, MS(ENT), Senior Consultant ENT, Maharaja Agrasen Hospital said: “As an ENT Specialist and a practitioner of modern medicine( Allopathy), I don’t recommend such treatments. It can worsen an already existing ear problem or may lead to infection in the ear. A small piece of garlic may fall inside, get lodged in the ear canal, and act as a foreign body leading to more complications.

Dr. Vimal N, Scientist, Sri Sri Institute for Advanced Research, Bangalore explained while speaking to Vishvas News: “I won’t really recommend putting any solid object inside the ear canal. The clove of garlic might be small enough to get stuck inside the canal. There is no evidence supporting this claim. Ayurveda and Siddha also do not recommend this practice.”

Vishvas News found a March 2019 post on American health information website Healthline. The report states the use of garlic cloves to ease earache. However, it states the garlic needs to be peeled, one of its tips cut off, then wrapped in a piece of gauze, before it could be placed in the ear in a way that it will not slip inside one’s ear canal. However, the report warns against the “risk of skin irritation and chemical burns” when applying garlic or its extracts on the skin, and does not recommend using it as a treatment for a ruptured eardrum.

The post is shared on Facebook by a user named Just call me Betty. The social scanning of the page revealed that the page is a kitchenware promotional page. 

Conclusion: Viral post claiming that putting a garlic clove in your ear can reduce pain, infection and headache is misleading.

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