At one point or another, we've all asked ourselves is ear candling safe?
Your mom told you never to put anything in your ear smaller than your elbow. There is a good reason to be wary of what goes into your ears! The ear is a sensitive instrument and your eardrum can easily be ruptured, leading to temporary or even permanent deafness.
But, what if you’re prone to earwax build-up? If you go to your doctor, they will syringe your ears by flushing them out with water to remove the wax. But, is ear candling safe?
What is Ear Candling?
Ear candling is a procedure with an ancient lineage. Similar techniques were used in Native American, Chinese, Indian, Aztec, and Egyptian cultures, not just as a physical therapy, but as a spiritual practice for clearing the mind and the senses. It has also been used to heighten the experience of meditation.
The “candle” is not a solid household candle at all, but a specially-designed cotton tube or cone impregnated with beeswax and an array of therapeutic essential oils, honey, and herbs, such as St John’s wort or sage.
The client lies down on one side, fully clothed. The therapist lights the wide end of the ear candle and places the narrow end of the ear candle at the entrance of the client’s ear (it should not be inserted or pushed into the ear canal). The candle is allowed to burn for about 10-12 minutes before it is removed and extinguished. Often a practitioner will use two or more candles per ear during a treatment session.
When ear candling is administered by a professional practitioner, you should not feel discomfort or unpleasant heat. The candle should be removed from the ear before it burns past a certain point, usually just above where the therapist is holding the candle. Some candles have a line marked to show when it must be removed. No beeswax or sediment should fall into the ear.
How Does Ear Candling Work?
Practitioners say that the warmth of the burning ear candle creates a gentle vacuum, releasing pressure in the eardrum and encouraging the removal of wax, irritants, and parasites. The warmth of the burning candle also helps to soften the wax, making it easier to remove post-treatment.
Some practitioners incorporate ear candling into other treatments such as Bowen therapy, massage, or acupuncture for a more “whole body” therapeutic experience.
Native Americans, like the Hopi Nation, use ear candling to cleanse and purify the air, and to harmonize the body’s energy fields. The candles also played an important role in initiations and other ritual ceremonies.
What Are the Risks of Ear Candling?
As with any therapeutic procedure, there are risks associated with ear candling. And because heat and fire are involved, the risks if something goes wrong could be damaging and painful. There are cases where people have tried ear candling at home and ended up with severe burns that required surgery and a long recovery process.
The eardrum can also be damaged if the candle is pushed into the ear canal, or if the candling is done while the client has an active middle ear infection.
Ear candling is not suitable for people with cochlear or other implants such as grommets, who have had surgery on their ears, a recently ruptured eardrum, or who are currently suffering from an inflammation or infection.
What Are the Benefits?
Practitioners recommend ear candling for a range of problems, not just for unblocking ears. It may be a therapy you wish to try to relieve any of the following conditions:
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
- Sinus problems, including chronic sinusitis and sinus-related headaches
- Swimmer’s ear
- Glue ear
- Postnasal drip
- Recurrent sore throats
- Post-cold or flu congestion
- Hay fever
Ear candling is often recommended for people suffering from chronic pain or congestion. The release of pressure in the ears has also been reported to have a positive effect on chronic pain in the neck and head. Clients have also reported an improved sense of taste and hearing after ear candling treatments.
When used in conjunction with other holistic treatments, ear candling can help improve mental clarity and awareness with many patients feeling calmer, happier, and less stressed.
So, Is Ear Candling Safe?
As with any other therapy, mainstream or holistic, you should make your decision to try ear candling based on your own research and what feels right for you. As long as you make sure you observe the exclusions noted above, ear candling should do no harm and may even be an enjoyable experience.
Ear candling is definitely not a therapy recommended for self-administration or for use at home. This is one modality which is best carried out by someone you trust, who is properly qualified and working in a professional setting. But having said that, it can work wonders for a variety of health issues and is highly recommended by this holistic healing advocate!