Ear candling – or thermo-auricular therapy as it is also known – refers to an ancient, non-invasive complementary therapy designed to help treat conditions associated with the ear, nose and throat.
It is a technique that involves placing a hollow, cone-shaped tube (or ‘candle’) made of cotton, soaked in beeswax, honey and herbs into the ear canal in order to stimulate the ear and facilitate the removal of excess wax and impurities, see results photo.
Ear candle treatment varies according to the shape and size of the candles, as well as the ingredients impregnated into the lining, but all are considered to have the same benefits – particularly for conditions such as sinus problems, compacted ear wax, tinnitus and headaches. Ear candling can also be used to promote deep relaxation and is thought to have therapeutic benefits which can help to relieve stress and revitalise the body.
How do ear candles work?
Ear candle treatment begins with long, hollow ‘candles’ which are manufactured using organic cotton and a selection of natural ingredients such as honey extracts, crushed herbs, and beeswax which are impregnated into the lining.
The candle is gently placed about a quarter-inch into ear and lit, allowing the warmth of the flame to pass down the candle’s hollow centre deeper into the ear canal. The warm air eventually comes into contact with colder air and a vacuum effect is created – drawing out any wax, candida, yeast and other debris that may be lodged in the ear canal. The movement and compression between the ear canal and the candle chamber generate air flow that functions like a chimney. This ‘chimney effect’ is what stimulates the sucking action.
The removal of excess wax and impurities helps to clear the inner ear and sinuses, regulates ear pressure and brings about a lighter sensation in the head and ears. Ear candling is also thought to induce deep relaxation, which is enhanced via the infusion of herbs and essential oils into the candle itself. This turns to vapour when the candle is lit which is then drawn into the ear canal where it creates a soothing, massaging effect that protects and softens any irritated areas in the ear.
Ear candle treatment has been handed down by many ancient civilisations, but it is thought that the Ancient Greeks were among the first to use the technique. They referred to it as ‘coning’ and used it specifically for cleansing, healing and purifying on a spiritual basis.
The Greeks used pottery clay to make coned shaped instruments, and carved a double helix inside to create a downward spiral energy flow for smoke and heated air once the candle was lit. This carried burning herbs down into the ear canal, helping to cleanse and draw out debris and impurities.
Gradually more and more ancient cultures picked up on the practice, including the Chinese, Egyptians, Mayan and Inca tribes. The modern incarnation of ear candling however is primarily based on the technique envisaged by the Native American Indian tribe, the Hopis (meaning ‘peaceful people’).
The Hopis – who were known for their medicinal knowledge – used ear candling in rituals and healing ceremonies, and developed a specific candle formula to enhance the treatment’s holistic and therapeutic benefits. The main ingredients they used in their candles included cotton, beeswax, honey, sage, chamomile and St John’s Wort – a formula still used in modern ear candle treatments today.