Treating Middle Ear Infection with Chinese Medicine


John K. Chen, Ph.D., Pharm.D., O.M.D., L.Ac.




 by Dr. John K. Chen, Ph.D., Pharm.D., O.M.D., L.Ac.

Published November 4, 2019

Middle ear infection can be treated quickly and effectively with Chinese medicine with a success rate of over 95% within a week. Below is a case study detailing how to achieve relief from the infection.


A 53-year-old male patient presents with an ear infection for over 2 months. He completed 2 rounds of oral antibiotics which were ineffective. This was followed by an IV injection of antibiotics which were also ineffective. The patient was sent home by his primary care physician after 30 days and was told there was nothing they could do.




• Reddish purple with slight white coating


• Convex pounding on the right cun and right chi. Concave and weak on right guan. Convex forceful on the left cun, concave on the left guan. Thick, forceful and wiry on the left chi. 

The patient said the pressure from the ear infection was approximately 8 to 9 at night from a scale of 1 to 10, which caused insomnia and preventing him from a restful sleep. Using the same scale, the pain level was 4 out of 10. The patient also reports an increase of sinus congestion and mucus. The patient works in a cold environment with air conditioning (AC) blowing on him all day. 

Thoughts on How to Select Points and Herbs. 

It is widely known that TCM is radically different from Western medicine in which one formula can treat several different diseases while the same disease may be treated with many different formulas. When treating middle ear infection, there is a high probability of toxic heat with inflammation, which was evident in this patient. In addition to the heat, the patient also exhibited signs of congestion and poor circulation. The mucus congestion was a result of a lingering cold and blood circulation was believed to have resulted from the cold air from the AC blowing on him in the cold working environment. A diet consisting of eating a lot of raw foods or cold beverages will also impede blood circulation. In normal cases, simple formulas like Pu Ji Xiao Du Yin (Universal Benefit Decoction to Eliminate Toxin) can be used to easily clear heat and detoxify. Unfortunately, because the patient already took so many rounds of antibiotics with no improvement, it does not make sense to use a formula to clear heat and detoxify. Blood movers and mucus dissolving herbs need to be added in order to deliver the herbs to the affected area and remove blockage.



The patient was prescribed 150g herbal extract granules and was the combination of the below constituents. Some of the dosage may appear excessive but the amount prescribed have ben time-tested by Dr. Jimmy Chang and actually work wonders! If you are not familiar with the “Fang Jia Fang” or “Formula Plus Formula” protocol that many Taiwanese doctors use when prescribing herbs, please watch this video:


Pu Ji Xiao Du Yin (Universal Benefit Decoction to Eliminate Toxin) 25% 

• Dr. Jimmy Chang’s Astringent Complex (ingredients: equal percentages of He Zi, Wu Bei Zi, Bai Wei, Zhe Bei Mu, Tian Hua Fen, Ma Chi Xian) 25%

• Dr. Jimmy Chang’s Magic Formula 50% (ingredients: equal percentages of San Zhong Kui Jian Tang, Shi Liu Wei Liu Qi Yin, Zhen Ren Huo Ming Yin, Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang, Zhe Chong Yin, Zheng Gu Zi Jin Dan, Hu Zhang, Herbal ABX 



Pu Ji Xiao Du Yin (Universal Benefit Decoction to Eliminate Toxin) clears heat and detoxifies. Dr. Chang’s Astringent Complex is excellent to reduce any inflammation and related symptoms such as swelling and pain. The concept of the Magic Formula is great because it includes everything to treat most people’s imbalances. It can clear heat, get rid of phlegm, move blood and detox. It was used in this case mostly for the blood moving effect in addition to the reduction of inflamed tissue, and elimination of swelling and blockage.

Dosage instructions: 5 flat spoons twice a day for 3 days, then 3 flat spoons twice a day. 


Master Tung Points: 

• A 4 point set on the bottom of the foot, Huaguyi (T 55.02) 


Balance Method Points:

• Right side: Zhongzhu (TH 3), Houxi (SI 3), Xiaxi (GB 43), Shugu (BL 65) 

• Left side: Taichong (LR 3), Taibai (SP 3), Rangu (KI 2) 

Needles were retained for 15 min. If additional time was available for treatment, the ear would have been bled, leading to a faster recovery.



1.      Eat only rice and steamed veggies.

2.      No sugar, dairy, alcohol, chips, fried food, or spicy food. Sugar and dairy forms more mucus to worsen the congestion. The rest encourage formation of heat which worsens inflammation.

3.      Take a bath nightly to help with the blood circulation



“Hello! Thank you so much for following up with us. Your kind care is such a blessing to us. My husband is on the mend ! He had a complete breakthrough yesterday and the congestive pressure in his ears is. completely relieved thankfully! The medicine is working very well for him and for me. His energy returned yesterday as well. He went for a run for the first time in weeks.


In addition, he is still releasing mucus yet he has made a tremendous recovery! We are still mostly eating rice and steamed veggies. We are getting hungry more often yet feeling more alert and clear. Thank you so much! “

Sent from my iPhone”



Middle ear infection is an easy condition to treat with western antibiotics, acupuncture, or herbs. However, it is important to note that blood circulation needs to be improved before prescribing herbs, which explains why the antibiotics did not initially help the patient. Antibiotics are considered cold properties in Chinese medicine. Simply prescribing another heat clearing and detoxifying formula will be ineffective. If there is one thing to learn from this case study, it should be this: moving blood improves your overall effect of herbs!

Reflecting back on this case, maybe adding Shi Chang Pu (Rhizoma Acori Tatarinowii) would also help open the orifices and drain some phlegm. Prescribing this herb might improve the effectiveness by another 5-10%. 

Every patient who walks through the door is another challenge to an herbalist as their goal is to create a formula as close to 100% as possible. Hopefully this case creates a better understanding of how to treat middle ear infection effectively--if there isn't already something in mind of course! 

About the Author
Dr. John K. Chen, Ph.D., Pharm.D., O.M.D., L.Ac., is the lead author of Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology (2003, Art of Medicine Press), Chinese Herbal Formulas and Applications (2008, Art of Medicine Press), Chinese Herbal Formulas for Veterinarians (2008, Art of Medicine Press), and Chinese Herbal Formulas for Veterinarians (2012, Art of Medicine Press). He is a medical consultant for Evergreen Herbs and may be reached at or (626) 810-5530.

To learn more about Dr. John Chen and herbs, click here to view a complete list of courses by Dr. John Chen.