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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gum Therapy for Ears

HELSINKI, Finland () -- Parents who despair because of their children's chronic ear infections may have an easy cure: chewing gum.

Finnish researchers recommend that preschool children chew gum containing the natural sweetener xylitol several times daily, because it's good for ears.

"We found that regular doses of xylitol cut ear infections by up to 50 percent," said Matti Uhari, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Oulu.

Xylitol, found in the tissues of such plants as birch and maple trees, corn cobs and straw, was first discovered in Germany at the turn of the century.

"Xylitol doesn't actually destroy bacteria, but we found that it reduces the incidence of ear infections," Uhari said.