Also known as Ear Coning, Ear Candling is a folk medicine practice that aims to remove wax and other harmful toxins from the ear.
The procedure followed is quite simple. The patient is first made to lie on his or her side with the treated ear on top. A cylindrical cone of waxed cloth is then placed into the ear. The ear and the adjoining areas are protected using an aluminium pie tin or a paper plate. This will collect any of the hot wax or ash falling from the candle. The candle is placed over this and the top end is lit.
Typically, one session of ear candling or ear coning lasts for about 45 minutes. At this time, the practitioner may use one or two candles per ear. Most patients describe the process as being ‘unusual, but very relaxing and calming’. After the candle is blown out, visible candle wax is gently removed using a cotton swab. Then ear oil is applied.
According to proponents, the heat produced by the burning candle generates a vacuum within the ear canal. This helps pull out the toxins and dirt from the inner ear and the sinuses – areas that are usually inaccessible to unless surgery is performed. At the end of the session, patients get to see the debris from their ear. This consists of ear wax, toxins and candle ash. Proponents claim that the debris also contains fungus and other waste products within the ear.
The origins of ear candling are obscure, though proponents trace it to practices in ancient Egypt, Tibet and China. Enthusiasts of this technique firmly believe that ear candling helps:
- Relieves ear aches by cleansing the ear canals and regulating the pressure within the ears
- Helps cure and prevent further occurrence of sinusitis, tinnitus.
- Helps cure the auricular zone
- Relieve pain, strengthen the mind and purify the mind.
Most ear candles are made especially for this purpose using cotton or linen. The material is unbleached because practitioners believe that chlorine can damage the ear. This is then soaked in paraffin wax and thus allowed to harden. To give added benefits, sometimes the wax also contains herbs like Rosemary, Thyme, Chamomile, Jejoba, Yucca root and even honey.
But there are no scientific studies to back the claims of these proponents. Besides, ear candling sessions may be dangerous for people who have perforated ear drums or ear tubes. People who have artificial ear drums should also avoid this technique.
Skeptics totally disagree with the proponents and believe that the burning of the candle does not have the power to create any vacuum within the ear. The so called ‘toxins’ are largely the waste from the candle mixed with ear wax. The main reason they cite is that the ear canal is not connected to any of the structures beyond the eardrum. There is no scientific evidence of the eardrum being porous and thus enabling the passage of waste and toxins.
One of the proven benefits of ear candling is that it helps one to relax and relieve tension. Many people describe the sensation as being ‘near spiritual’ – almost like holding a shell over the ear and listening to it. Some people say that they hear a popping or crackling sound in the ear as the candle burns. Some amount of heat may also be felt during the sessions.