Ear Candling


Origins of ear candling
What can it help with
What are ear candles
What happens during treatment
Conditions that may need approval from your doctor
Side effects
After-care advice
Frequency of ear candling

Origins of ear candling

Rock painting in the Hopi Tower, North Rim, Grand Canyon, USA
Rock painting in the Hopi Tower, Grand Canyon, USA

Pictorial records show the use of ear candles in cultures across the globe, the most famous being a rock painting in the Hopi Tower.

Ear candling was practised by ancient cultures such as the Aztecs, Greeks, Romans and Aborigines. The ancient Egyptians reputedly used reeds from the Nile coated with wax. It is generally accepted that ear candling was used for cleansing the ear canal and for spiritual purification. Ear candling was also practised in Italy, Spain, Hungary, Romania and Asia, using materials such as rolled tobacco leaves, corn husks, hollow reeds and waxed cloth or paper.

What can it help with

Many claims are made regarding the benefits of ear candling such as loosening of compacted ear wax, reduced signs and symptoms of tinnitus, headaches, migraines, sinus problems, snoring, bell’s palsy, hay fever, labyrinthitis, Ménière’s disease, dizziness, stress related insomnia and anxiety, to name but a few.

In my opinion the benefit of ear candling comes from its ability to de-stress combined with the stimulation and warming of local acupuncture points. This stimulation and warming, particularly when combined with acupressure massage, can stimulates the body’s healing processes potentially offering benefits from many health related problems.

What are ear candles

Ear candles by BIOSUN®
Ear candles by BIOSUN®

The term ‘candle’ is a little misleading as unlike everyday candles they are hollow, have no wick and are usually made from cotton, flax or hemp fibres. Good ear candles are made from unbleached organic crops and the fibres are stiffened by dipping into pure beeswax. Some candles incorporate herbs, essential oils and other ingredients.

What happens during treatment

Ear candling is most effective when combined with a face, neck, scalp and ear massage. The massage I offer incorporates acupressure to enhance the therapeutic effect in a similar way to acupuncture but without the needles. Massage is recommended but optional.

The session is in a warm treatment room with soft background music, you remain fully clothed. For the ear candling you will be asked to lie on the couch on your side (first one side then the other), for the massage you will lie face up.

Prior to treatment I will consider any contraindications and ask you to sign a consent form. Total treatment time with massage is about 50 minutes, without massage about 35 minutes.


The candles I use incorporate a filter, this protects the ear canal from the loose debris and wax produced by the burning candle.

If any of the following apply then ear candling may not be advisable, you should discuss your needs with Austin  before booking; it is likely that a suitable therapeutic alternative can be offered.

Acute infectious diseases – Such as flu, mumps, measles, tuberculosis and chicken pox are highly contagious.

Alcohol or drugs intoxication – May cause dizziness, nausea and inappropriate and dangerous behaviour.

Artificial ear drums – Residue could potentially damage an artificial eardrum.

Bruising, open cuts, abrasions or sunburn – These areas will be avoided during massage and if the outer ear is involved may negate ear candling.

Cochlear implants – May cause damage and feel uncomfortable. However, an external hearing aid that can be removed prior to treatment should be fine.

Ear grommets or tubes – Once the grommets or tubes have been removed you should wait 6 months.

Eczema or dermatitis – If in the outer ear may feel uncomfortable and cause irritation.

High temperature or heavy cold – Uncomfortable, potential dangerous and a risk of infecting others.
Outer ear infections May aggravate and spread the infection.

Perforated ear drum – Residue could be deposited in the middle ear.

Skin or scalp infections – Such as impetigo, scabies, conjunctivitis, folliculitis, and pediculosis capitis (lice) and tinea capitis (ringworm) carry a real risk of passing on the infection.

Conditions that may require approval from your doctor before ear candling

Serious medical conditions – Such as cancer, diabetes, thrombosis and heart conditions.

Disorders of the nervous system – Such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy and trigeminal neuralgia.

Epilepsy – Depending on your particular circumstances you need to be sure that the procedures and ingredients of ear candling will not trigger an episode.

Recent head or neck injury – Blows to the head, concussion or whiplash can dislocate the middle ear bones. If you are experiencing new ear problems you should consult your doctor.

Undiagnosed lumps, bumps and swellings – Any undiagnosed lumps, bumps or swellings should be seen by investigated by your doctor; these areas will be avoided during massage.


Allergies  – You may be allergic to an ingredient used in the manufacture of the candles although these are present in such small amounts that it is rarely a problem

Low blood pressure – You may experience dizziness when sitting or standing up after treatment.

Oil used in the ear canal – The oil in your ear may get hot and vapours could stick to the oil causing residue to accumulate. You should wait 48 hours before ear candling.

Pregnancy – When pregnant you may be more sensitive to smells and prefer a candle with no added ingredients. It may be difficult to stay comfortable during treatment.

Reduced hearing – When there is compacted ear wax hearing may be reduced temporarily due to it hydrating and expanding. Hearing should improve after a day or two as ear wax is naturally expelled.

Side effects

Ear candling should be a gentle procedure and the side effects are usually positive rather than negative:

Change in sleep patterns, often improved

Changes in bowel movements (short-term)

Feeling of fullness in the ears (more treatments may be required before wax is expelled naturally)

Feeling of tiredness (short-term)

Feeling relaxed and de-stressed

Headache or light-headedness (drinking water after a treatment usually prevents a headache)

Increased appetite (short-term)

Increased mucus as sinuses are stimulated

Increased thirst (short-term)

Increased urination (short-term)

Release of muscle tension

After-care advice

Sit up slowly, you may be temporarily light-headed or disorientated

Drink some water to promote elimination and help prevent headache

Try to avoid water sports such as swimming for 24 hours

Occasionally your ears may feel more sensitive to the environment, if so avoid winds and draughts, or place a small amount of cotton wool just at the entrance to the ear canal

Never poke at your ears with cotton buds or other instruments as you may damage the eardrum

If you have sinus problems cut your intake of dairy products as these promote mucus

Frequency of ear candling

The effects of ear candling, such as pressure balancing and expulsion of earwax can continue for up 48 hours so a minimum of 2 days should be left between sessions.

Compacted earwax may clear after one session or may take two or more sessions

In general chronic and severe conditions require more treatments

Chronic sinus problems may require a minimum of 3 sessions not more than a week apart. Maintenance treatments once or twice a month may help to minimise your symptoms

Unless symptoms are completely clear you may benefit from further treatments

Hair Loss (Alopecia Areata)

Alopecia Areata is baldness in one or multiple areas and can occur anywhere hair grows but is often most problematic when it manifests as bald patches on the scalp. From a Western medicine perspective the cause is not fully understood but there may be a family connection and it may involve an autoimmune response. Some pharmaceutical medications such as those seen in chemotherapy can also cause hair loss. My experience also suggests that stress is a factor or trigger in some cases.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatment can be effective in treating alopecia, particularly when the Western medicine aetiology is unclear and no obvious pharmaceutical cause is known. The cause of alopecia according to TCM diagnosis is often one of a Blood Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation either of which may cause the hair to become malnourished and fall out. Some of the following signs and symptoms may also be present with these patterns such as dizziness, dryness, painful periods, tight neck and shoulders, a feeling of a lump (plum stone) in the throat, palpitations, tight chest, insomnia, vivid dreams, depression, restlessness, cold hands and feet.

Both men and women can suffer from alopecia however it tends to be predominately women I see as it is perhaps more traumatic for women, and women are more easily prone to Blood Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation due to their female nature, menstrual cycle and the modern lifestyle stresses.

Fortunately TCM treatment can be effective in restoring hair growth by addressing the underling patterns of Blood Deficiency and or Liver Qi Stagnation. Subject to diagnosis the following methods may be employed:

Dietary advice to help strengthen the Spleen function and smooth the Liver Qi, by a modest increase in Blood nourishing and Qi invigorating foods such as described by Debra Betts here. It is important to have a proper TCM pattern diagnosis before making changes to your diet as not all cases of hair loss are due to Blood Deficiency or Liver Qi Stagnations and there may be other underling patterns that are more important to address.

Acupuncture to tonify the Spleen function and help your body produce good Blood and Qi. Acupuncture to smooth the Liver Qi, de-stress and help Qi and Blood move effectively to the extremities. Acupuncture to stimulate the area of hair loss to draw Qi and Blood to the area and nourish the follicles.

Plum blossom needling (a special tapping technique using small needles) to invigorate the area of hair loss drawing Qi and Blood to the area to nourish the follicles.

Moxibustion (an external herbal warming technique) to stimulate the area of hair loss drawing Qi and Blood to the area to nourish the follicles.

I will often utilise a combination of these therapies and it may also be useful for the patient to apply fresh ginger to the area once or twice a day until it is hot and flushed, but not immediately following an acupuncture treatment.

*Patterns of disharmony: Also called pattern diagnosis and pattern discrimination are the diagnosis that traditional Chinese medicine practitioners give to the disharmonies that lead to disease; it is these patterns that are treated to return your body and mind to a proper and healthy balance. After your initial consultation and throughout your treatments I will discuss with you your particular pattern diagnoses, bear in mind that these patterns can change as your condition changes or if you contract new conditions, such as a common cold or stiff neck. There are dozens of pattern disharmonies and some more common examples are Spleen Qi Deficiency, Liver Qi Stagnation, Dampness, Heat, Coldness, Liver Blood Deficiency, Kidney Yang Deficiency, Kidney Yin Deficiency and Lung Qi Deficiency.

By Austin ©2014 Austin Austin www.austinaustin.co.uk