Archive for February, 2013

February 5, 2013

All about…..Ear Candling

by lrmetcalfe

Ear candling is one of my favorite treatments to give and to receive. However when a client views my treatment list and reads ‘ear candling’ a confused even baffled look often appears on their face.

Ear candling, also known as ear coning, Hopi ear candling and thermal auricular therapy, is, in my experience a relaxing and soothing treatment which has a variety of health benefits and applications. However it is a treatment which is often misunderstood and is surrounded by myths.

As a practitioner I take a ‘common sense’ approach to my treatments and try and focus on the physical benefits to my clients. So in this article I will try and dispel many of the myths that surround ear candling and focus on my findings and experiences during ear candling treatments.

What happens during an ear candling treatment?

Before all treatments the client’s suitability will be assessed and a consultation carried out.

During an ear candling treatment a specially designed hollow ‘candle’ is inserted into the ear, the client lies on one side on the treatment couch as the candle burns down. The therapist holds the candle in place throughout and the client may hear popping and fizzing noises as the candle burns. The candle is extinguished before it burns down past the ‘safety line’, the c

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lient then turns over and the process is repeated on the other ear. Common practice is to follow this with a draining facial massage. The practitioner will then open the candles to assess their contents, from this and various other factors the practitioner will assess whether follow up treatments are required.

Is it just a normal candle?

During a treatment a specially designed ‘ear candle’ is used.  The candle is hollow and made of linen/cotton, beeswax, honey extracts, sage, St. John’s Wort, chamomile and beta carotene. Other candles may come in different shapes and contain additional essential oils, but these are the ingredients for the basic and most popular candle. At the base of the candle there is a red line which is the line down to which the candle will be burnt. Also at the base, inside the candle is a plastic filter, this stops any contents from the candle from entering the ear.

Isn’t the fire dangerous?

The candle burns down slowly and is extinguished in a bowl of water, before it reaches the red safety line (this shows the limit the candle should be burnt to).

Safety precautions are taken, for instance: clients with long hair will tie back their hair and clothing which may get in the way during the treatment is removed.

When performed correctly by a qualified professional the treatment poses no danger.

You can buy ear candles in a health shop, can’t I just get my friend to do it for me?

The process is much safer and more effective when performed by a qualified practitioner:

  • There are contraindications to the treatment which anyone who has not received training may not be aware of.
  •  The correct technique may not be used as the candle needs to be held in a particular position.
  • The results of the treatment would not be properly assessed.
  • Practitioners often follow ear candling with a facial massage which enhances its benefits and is a relaxing end to the therapy.

Why are they called Hopi ear candles?

Often the candles are known as ‘Hopi’ ear candles and the treatment referred to as Hopi ear candling. Unfortunately this is an inaccuracy and is due to marketing by one producer of ear candles who named their candles ‘Hopi’ and claim that the use of ear candles originated with the Hopi tribe. However, there is no such treatment within traditional Hopi healing practices. Vanessa Charles, public relations officer for the Hopi Tribal Council, has stated that ear candling “is not and has never been a practice conducted by the Hopi tribe or the Hopi people”.

Who should have the treatment?

As long as you do not have any contraindications then the treatment is a relaxing experience for all, however it may be especially useful for the following conditions:

  • Sinusitis
  • Hayfever
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Excessive or compacted ear wax
  • Snoring
  • Tinnitus
  • Loss or reduction of smell

Is there any reason why I can’t have the treatment?

There are various contraindications to the treatment and if you are unsure as to whether you should have the treatment you should speak to your GP first.

The contraindications are as follows and should be checked before treatment:

  • Allergies to any of the candle’s ingredients
  • Perforated ear drum in the last 6 months
  • Grommet fitted in the ear drum, or if the grommet has fallen out in the last 6 months
  • If the client is under specific medical supervision
  • Recent severe dental work
  • Pregnancy
  • Epilepsy
  • Fever or infection
  • Skin condition in or around the ear (eczema, psoriasis)
  • Cochlear implant or hearing aid in position
  • If a mastoidectomy has taken place
  • Not suitable for children under the age of 3

How do you assess the treatment?                              

I assess the treatment using following criteria:

  • The time the candles take to burn down for each ear
  • The contents of each candle
  • Whether the sizzling sounds could be heard by the receiver
  • The feedback from the client immediately after the treatment
  • The feedback from the client following the treatment

Dependent on the findings I will decide with the client if further treatment is required.

Do the candles suck out the ear wax from my ears?

At the end of the treatment the candles will be opened and their contents assessed. Depending on the condition of the ears, the contents of the candle will vary.

Many practitioners maintain that the orange waxy substance often found in the ear candles is ear wax, however this is not possible; ear candling does not have a vacuum-like effect on the ears. The candle will only contain the remains of its ingredients which have not fully burnt away.  The following residues may be found in the candle:

  • yellow powder (candle herbal residue)
  • orange/brown wax (beeswax from the candle)

My experiences

Of all the treatments I offer, and all the treatments I have received from fellow therapists, ear candling is the treatment I cannot live without.

I suffer from allergic sinusitis which is caused like hayfever, by pollen in the Spring months. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses and my symptoms include painful headaches, an aching neck, runny or blocked nose, pain behind my eyes and at the top of my nose, and a tickly feeling in my nose.

Every time I start to suffer I ask a fellow therapist for an ear candling treatment. Sometimes my symptoms are relieved straight away other times it may take a day or two to take effect; however I always find the treatment useful and incredibly relaxing.

I hope this has enlightened you to the effects of this soothing, beneficial treatment.