Ear candles are cone-shaped devices, usually made of cotton or linen, coated in paraffin wax or beeswax. These ear candles, from ancient times, are being used for cleaning the ear, popularly known as ear candling. Ear candling is also called ear coning or thermo-auricular therapy.
This alternative medicinal method is believed to reduce health problems such as ear pain, headache and sinus. While there are several people who believe that it's an effective way for earwax cleaning, medical researchers consider this method to be both ineffective and dangerous.
People from ancient cultures and civilizations including Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, Tibetans and American Indians, are said to have used this method. Many cultures considered ear candling a spiritual practice. It has also been claimed that, it clears the mind and senses. But none of the claims have been proven scientifically.
Does Ear Candling Work?
This is always a question of debate, as a difference of opinion exists among people. Many people exercise ear candling method regularly. They claim it works, and consider it a useful method for earwax removal and the cleansing of impurities in the ears. It is claimed that ear candles create vacuum and pull out excess wax and even fungus from the ear and the sinus. They believe that, during the process, earwax eventually moves outside, along the ear canal. Ear candling causes gentle osmotic pressure, and drains the entire system by osmosis through the membrane of the ear. Some people also believe that the remains of the ear candles, that are found at the end of the process, is the excess earwax and debris. There are some practitioners who believe in the holistic treatment of the soul and body, by the use of ear candles.
But, skeptics do not agree to this. According to them, there is no such mechanism to clean ears. They believe that ear candles cannot generate sufficient temperature to melt the wax and nor can they create sufficient vacuum to do so. In fact, medical practitioners and researchers claim that, if ear candles would manage to create enough vacuum to do so, they would rupture the eardrums. According to them, the residue from the procedure is not earwax and debris, but the product of combustion of the ear candle. This product can be found even if the ear candle is not placed in the ear but outside it.
There is no scientific evidence in support of ear candling, and hence it's not recommended by medical practitioners. FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) and Health Canada too consider ear candles as a product, posing risk. Selling or importing of ear candles, for medical purposes, has been declared illegal by the United States. One session of 30 to 60 minutes costs around $40 to $80. As there is no evidence and scientific prof about its effectiveness, it is better to consult a doctor in case of any ear problem to avoid further complications.
The Process of Ear Candling
Ear candling technique uses long hollow ear candles. Usually, these ear candles are 12 inches long. Beeswax coated ear candles, are preferred over the paraffin coated candles as some people are allergic to paraffin. It may causes itching in nose and eyes. The process of ear candling involves, placing one end of an ear candle vertically, with the help of a supporting plate (especially designed for this purpose) in the ear canal. The other end of the ear candle is lit. The candle is left to burn for sometime. The entire session lasts for almost 45 minutes. During the session, one or two candles can be burnt for each ear. This procedure is believed to create a low level vacuum, which helps to extract the earwax and debris from the ear canal. After the procedure is complete, a dark waxy substance is found in the stub of the ear candle. Yellow or white powder may also be observed which is believed to be the residue of fungal growth. Despite the claims of many health benefits, ear candling is risky if you are not careful. It poses several dangers. It is not advisable to perform ear candling yourself as you may end up burning yourself, if you are not careful.
Purported Benefits of Ear Candling
Removal of excess earwax, improvement in hearing, and relief from ear pain and sinus pain, are some benefits claimed by people who regularly practice ear candling. Other supposed benefits of ear candling are:
- Reduction of ringing in the ear - tinnitus
- Relief from swimmer's ear
- Sharpened sense of smell, taste and color perception
- Reduced stress and tension
- Purification of blood
- Improvement in lymphatic circulation
- Cure of herpes zoster oticus
- Release of blocked energy and purification of mind.
- Opening of spiritual centers
Risks Involved in Ear Candling
There are several dangers that are associated with ear candling which are listed below.
- If the candle is not placed properly, then the wax dripping from the candle may cause burns in the internal parts of the ear.
- The burning candle may cause severe injuries, including burning of ear, hair and surrounding skin.
- It may damage eardrums and may even lead to perforated eardrums.
- It may cause blockage in ear canal.
- It may lead to temporary deafness.
It could be concluded that, though ear candling claims many benefits, the fact is, it lacks scientific support. Therefore, one should seriously think about the process of ear candling, before undergoing it. If you go for ear candling and experience any pain or discomfort while or after the completion of the procedure, then consult a doctor immediately. It is always better to discuss your ear problems with a doctor to avoid any complications in the future.