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Ear Candling: The Facts And Health Benefits
Ear candling is a form of alternative medicine that claims to be able to help remove earwax and generally improve health. It might seem a little strange that lighting a candle and putting it in your ear could have therapeutic properties, and scientific support for the method is mixed at best, but many people have tried to take advantage of its supposed benefits, which raises questions about exactly how it works.
History of ear candling
The actual origins of ear candling are unclear, although anecdotal evidence suggests it has existed in one form or another for thousands of years. It has been credited to various ancient cultures including the Egyptians, Greeks and Chinese, and similar therapies may have developed separately across the world. Hopi ear candles in particular take their name from the Hopi people of the Southwestern United States, although members of the Hopi Tribe have denied that the technique is based on any traditional Hopi practice.
How exactly does it work?
Thermo-auricular therapy, also known as ear candling or ear coning, involves placing a hollow, cone-shaped candle in your ear (pointed end first) and lighting the broad end. The heat and pressure is supposed to create a vacuum to draw out earwax, so it is used for ear cleaning as well as as a tool of relaxation. If you go to a doctor to remove earwax, they are likely to use suction to create a vacuum, so the principle is similar.
An ear candling candle is generally around ten inches long and made of cotton or other cloth that has been coated in wax or paraffin. Other ingredients, such as honey, rosemary or chamomile, may also be added for their supposed relaxing or healing properties. A towel around your head and neck may help protect you from drips of hot wax. Most ear candles are also passed through a paper plate or piece of foil before being inserted into the ear, which can offer extra protection.
When the candle is being inserted, the patient lies on their side with the ear facing upwards. You should never attempt to perform ear candling on yourself, even if you have professional training. The risk of causing yourself injury is too great. Go to a beauty salon or similar place where you can find an expert therapist or technician.
One ear candling session could take up to an hour, though the candle itself will only burn for about 15 minutes. You may use multiple candles in one session. The therapist may trim the edges of the candle as it burns before extinguishing it completely when the edge is just a few inches from your skin. The wax should never make direct contact.
After the candle is removed, it may be cut open to reveal a dark residue. Proponents claim this is the remains of earwax and toxins that have been drawn out of the ear. Critics allege this is just the remains of the wax, along with soot.
Proponents of ear candling cite its range of possible benefits. Removing excess earwax and cleaning the ear is supposed to improve your hearing, reduce infections and even treat conditions like tinnitus, which can cause a ringing in your ears. More fanciful claims include its use in treating colds and flu, headaches, sore throats and even high blood pressure. The scientific evidence supporting any of these claims is thin.
Research into the effects of ear candling have not just thrown doubt on its supposed benefits; they have also raised possible safety concerns about this treatment. Common injuries include burns to the ears, hair and face, as well as bleeding, infections, punctured eardrums and temporary hearing loss. There may even be a risk of starting a fire if the process is not conducted safely. In some cases, studies have shown an increase in wax in ears that were previously clean after they have been subject to ear candling. You should also remember that this is a form of alternative therapy and cannot be used as a replacement for genuine medical advice from a doctor.
It may have a long history, but ear candling is a controversial technique that the majority of experts claim has very few benefits and comes with a high risk of injury. If you do want to try ear candling as an alternative way to remove earwax, make sure you go to a professional and take all possible safety precautions. Alternatively, use something like the less intrusive Innerscope Ear Spray Cleaner & Wax Removal to clean your ears.