I had a number of customers ask me this week about ear candling, a popular method with a long history. Ear candling, also called ear coning or thermal-auricular therapy, is an alternative medicine practice claimed to improve general health and well-being by lighting one end of a hollow candle and placing the other end in the ear canal.
The subject is lying on one side with the treated ear uppermost and the candle vertical. The candle can be stuck through a paper plate or aluminum pie tin to protect against any hot wax or ash falling onto the subject. The flame is thought to create negative pressure, drawing wax and debris out of the ear canal, which appears as a dark residue.
An ear candling session can last from 15 to 45 minutes, during which time at least two ear candles may be burned for each ear.
While there are those in the medical world that claim that we do not benefit from this practice, and even claim it is harmful, I suggest that there are benefits. When done properly, I have seen improved hearing and as a side effect those participating have spent the time relaxing. We do need to do that more often!
In my experience it is may be helpful to prepare for ear candling with the use of an ear oil drops formula such as Herb Pharm’s Mullein Garlic Compound. Many ear candlers use this or a similar formula each night for a few days to loosen ear wax and prevent irritation from this wax removal process and continue its use for a few nights after candling.
In a column back in May 1993, author and humorist Dave Barry described his own experience with ear candling in the excerpt that follows:
”I’m all fired up over a cure for ear wax
TODAY I want to tell you about an Amazing Home Medical Remedy that you are definitely going to want to try if you are one of the thousands of Americans who have:
1. Ear wax.
2. Fire insurance.
I am talking about an ear-wax-removal product called ‘ear candles.’ I swear I am not making this product up. Ear candles were brought to my attention by alert reader Marianna Wright-Newton who sent me an advertisement featuring a cartoon drawing of a man lying down on his side; sticking out of his left ear is a long, tapered object with flames shooting out of the top. (Note from Yaakov: I hung this cartoon near the ear candle section in the health food store in Tulsa where I was working when this column was published.) This is not a small candle such as you find on birthday cakes. This is more along the lines of the torches that the villagers used to chase the monster out of Dr. Frankenstein’s castle.
The cartoon man’s mouth is wide open, and he has sort of a strange expression; you can’t tell whether he’s saying, ‘This certainly is a fine home remedy!’ or ‘Help! My brain is on fire!’
I sent my order in immediately. At risk of becoming the celebrity spokesperson for this dreaded condition, let me come right out and state that I am an earwax victim. There are many of us out here – lonely, tortured souls, little understood by society. We can’t even talk frankly about our condition with each other.
So I followed the instructions very carefully. I cut a small hole in the center of a paper plate – which I assumed was supposed to protect my head from burning stuff falling from the candle – then I poked the skinny end of the candle through the hole and seated it firmly in my ear. Then I lay down on my side, with my head under the plate and the candle sticking into the air. My wife and son and our two dogs gathered to watch. It was a tense moment, kind of like just before they ignite the rockets in the Space Shuttle. At my command, my son, Rob, who is 12 and therefore will cheerfully set anything on fire, including his father, lit the candle. It flared right up, and I could hear a hissing sound in my ear, and I thought to myself: What if something goes wrong here? What would the newspapers say?”
Needless to say, Dave Barry survived his experiment and has continued to entertain us with his books and columns!
At Natural Grocers in Eugene, where I am the store’s Nutritional Health Coach, we offer free classes that include plenty of information about healthy eating choices, and free one-on-one health coaching sessions (call 541-345-3300). Please ”like” our Natural Grocers-Eugene Facebook page. Find our store’s schedule of free classes at: https://www.naturalgrocers.com/store-location/eugene/.