The warm and moist conditions in the ear are conducive to the build-up of impurities called earwax. Excessive build-up may even cause pain in the ear by putting pressure on the ear drum, although earwax slowly migrates towards the opening of the ear canal. Ear candling is originally a home remedy for cleaning earwax from the ear.
Why should I be aware of this?
Ear candling is said to have de-stressing effects and also heighten one’s ability to experience the senses of colour, taste, vision and smell by reopening the spiritual centres of the brain and releasing pent up negative energies. Many cultures do consider ear candling an important process to cleanse the mind and body and ready it for meditation, thus equating with a spiritual healing processes.
The pores inside the ear are said to be connected to our sinuses, eyes, lymph nodes and other parts of the body. More importantly it is also connected to the cerumen gland which processes unwanted substances and produces ear wax. An excess of ear wax clogs the pores and interferes with the effective working of the nerves. The flow of energy is restricted. Consequently the sense organ, the ear in this case is put under strain and stress and cannot produce the effective transmissions required for the proper working of the human body. Ear Candling attempts to ultimately restore the sense of equilibrium in the physical state of a person and in doing so, finally reorganizes the levels, flow and vitality of the life forces or energies.
All about ear candling
Ear candling is an ancient, traditional practice that is said to have originated in civilizations of Aztec, Maya, Lemuria and even the mythical Atlantis civilisation. Some sources even trace the origins of this healing process to countries like China, Tibet, India and some parts of South America. However, the exact origin of this process of ‘self-purification’ is still obscure.
In ancient times, ear candling was known as ‘coning’ because of the shape of the instrument used to carry burning herbs down the ear canal. Glazed pottery was usually carved with a double helix inside it for the above purpose. Gradually this kind of cones was done away with, partially due to its weight and partially due to the fact that health regulations mandated the use of disposable candles. Hence unbleached cotton lined or coated with paraffin and/or beeswax came into vogue. Sometimes newspapers soaked in wax were also used.
Directed towards the auricular passages, ear candling refers to procedures that involve placing a cone-shaped device in the ear canal and extracting earwax and other impurities with the help of smoke. It has also been propagated as a sort of cleansing process in the realm of alternate healing, by relieving headaches related to the sinus, improving hearing by de-clogging the ear canals, boosting lymphatic circulation, relieving pain associated with ruptured ear drums and, in general, curing ailments of the ear. The medical fraternity, however, argues that candling is both ineffective and dangerous.
How it works
The top of the candle (of specified size) is lit and the smoke is allowed into the ear. As the ear canal warms up, the earwax inside loosen up, and the suction effect from increased heat causes the loosened earwax to collect at the base of the candle. As the candle burns, the person reports crackling and hissing sounds which is due to the activity in the ear. The warmth soothes and relaxes the person. At the end of the treatment, ear oil is placed in the ear to protect the further outbreak of yeast or bacterial infections. The materials that go into the ear candles are usually herbal in nature and supposedly help in fortifying the central nervous system along with purifying the blood in the body and renewing the oxygen supply to the brain.
The person undergoing this treatment is usually made to lie down on his or her side and a wax collecting plate is placed above the ear. The candle is inserted through the hole in the collecting plate and then lit. Once the candle burns out, a cotton swab is used to gently weed out the ear wax and other debris from within the ear.
The criticisms are at two levels. At a basic level, earwax is not seen to be entirely harmful and it usually comes out on its own, making the treatment totally uncalled for. Earwax is a normal secretion and some of it actually protects the inner ear. For example, by making the area slippery it helps water to run out of the canal if it has entered the ear canal. In addition, earwax is slightly acidic, which discourages bacterial or fungal growth.
On the other level, the procedure of treatment and the cures it seeks to purport is criticised. Although ear candling supposedly works by creating a vacuum, in reality, it has been found that the process does not produce any vacuum and the debris that is shown to have come out of the ear is actually the remnants of the ingredients that go into making the candle. Another claim that is dispelled is that ear candling clears sinusitis and unclogs brain passages. It is argued that the external ear canal and the ear drum are mutually exclusive to the sinuses and the Eustachian tubes.
More significantly, the patient could end up with mild to serious degrees of burns. Further, there are cases reported where the candle wax was deposited in the ear resulting in serious tissue damage. A 1996 survey of 144 ear, nose and throat physicians found that 14 had seen patients who had been harmed by ear candling, including at least 13 cases of external burns, seven cases of ear canal obstruction with candle wax and one perforated eardrum.
Earwax isn't dirt although it is usually assumed to be so.
References and Useful Links
- E a r C a n d l i n g
- Ancient Process of Ear Candling
- The Ancient Art Of Ear Coning
- Why Ear Candling Is Not a Good Idea
- E a r C a n d l i n g
- On Ear Cones and Candles by P.P. Kaushall and J.N. Kaushall, in Skeptical Inquirer, 2000
- Ear Candles: Efficacy and Safety by D.R. Seely, S.M. Quigley, A.W. Langman, in Laryngoscope, 1996