Ear Candles: Helpful or Harmful?Natural Remedies
Ear problems of all kinds seem to run especially rampant during cold and flu season. Clogged sinuses from cold weather, dry heat from furnaces, and sniffles of all kinds going around the community can cause ear discomfort to become a chronic problem rather than the temporary, self resolving issue it should be.
Ear candles are frequently considered one approach for holistic treatment of ear aches and other ear discomfort at home via ear candling. Ear candles have become a wildly popular natural remedy sold by the dozens at healthfood stores to combat seasonal and chronic ear issues. Ear candles are even touted as a way to clean out your ear to help prevent future problems. But, do ear candles really work as advertised?
How Do Ear Candles Work?
Use of ear candles, called ear candling or ear coning, is usually performed by using an ear candle about 10′ long which is made of cloth rolled in beeswax or paraffin. The ear candle is pushed through the center of a small hole cut in a pie tin or sturdy paper plate. The person to be candled then ideally lays comfortably on his/her side with the tapered end of the ear candle gently placed in the ear canal and the paper plate or tin just above the ear.
Hair should be tied back and a damp cloth placed around the shoulders should any ashes get loose and not be caught by the paper plate. The wide end of the ear candle is then lit and the candle allowed to burn for a few minutes until it is no closer than 4″ from the person being candled.
The ear candle is trimmed every couple of inches as it burns down to keep the flame and ashes low. Extinguishing the candle’s flame should be in a bowl of water rather than blown out to minimize smoke. The entire session for a single ear candle lasts about 15 minutes.
What Are the Benefits of Ear Candles?
Proponents of ear candling claim that it removes earwax and toxins. This residue is supposedly drawn out of the ear painlessly via a gentle vacuum caused by the flame burning on the end of the hollow tube of the ear candle. Residue is indeed visible after the ear candling session is complete upon examination of the inside of the remaining part of the ear candle.
Ear Candles Remove Nothing from the Ear
While all of these claims sound very intriguing, the fact is that none of it is true. If you believe any of these claims to be accurate and want to do a quick test at home, simply take an ear candle and put it in a glass vase and burn it down just like you would if it were used to candle someone’s ear.
When the flame is extinguished, you will find the exact same “residue” inside the candle as you would if it were being use therapeutically on an actual subject. The residue thought be be earwax and toxins by candling proponents is actually nothing more than bits of paraffin or beeswax from the candle itself!
Does Use of Ear Candles Have Any Benefits At All?
Before you come to the conclusion that ear candling is just a health scam and doesn’t provide any therapeutic value, consider this: Burning an ear candle with the tapered end inside someone’s ear as described above blows warm smoke into the ear which is indeed very relaxing and soothing for many.
This warm smoke also has the effect of drying out the ear, so it could potentially be of benefit to those suffering from an ear infection. I actually used ear candling to dry out the fluid in my first child’s ears when he had a double ear infection as a toddler many years ago. It worked like a charm although it was very much a challenge to accomplish on one so young.
No meds required and the fluid in the ear dried up quickly and never returned. I switched over to raw dairy not long after that and eliminated pasteurized milk – even organic – from our home which was the cause of the ear problems in the first place. He ended up never needing another ear candling session as he never had another ear infection ever again! My second and third children never needed any ear candling sessions either as they never have consumed any pasteurized dairy and consequently never had ear infection issues.
So, while use of ear candles via the process of ear candling may be a relaxing and somewhat helpful therapy for those with ear pain and other challenges, fixing the diet and eliminating the underlying cause of the ear problems in the first place is the best way to go. And, don’t fall for the notion that ear candling somehow cleans out your ears and rids them of excess earwax and toxins as it does nothing of the sort.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
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