Ear candling is an unsafe and unproven practice during which a person inserts a lit candle into their ear. The heat from the candle is supposed to draw earwax and other impurities out of the ear.
Proponents of ear candling claim that it can treat a number of conditions, ranging from earwax buildups to cancer.
What is ear candling?
Ear candling, or “coning,” is an alternative remedy that some people use to draw out impurities and wax from the inner ear.
Ear candles are typically about 10 inches long, hollow, and tapered. A person lights them at their widest end.
They are usually made of fabric soaked in wax or a mixture of substances, often paraffin and beeswax.
To perform ear candling, a person will lie on their side and insert a candle into the ear. Usually, a square or circle made of paper, tin foil, or plastic acts as a cover to prevent hot wax from dripping onto the face, neck, or hair.
Once the candle and covering are secure, a person will light the candle for 10–20 minutes. Wax does not go into the ear during this process.
What are the proposed benefits?
There are no scientifically proven benefits of ear candling. However, ear candle manufacturers and practitioners still tout many benefits of ear candling. Some producers even make unfounded claims that they help cure types of cancer.
Some of the other proposed benefits of ear candling include:
- removing wax, bacteria, and other debris from the ear canal
- treating sinus infections
- improving hearing or reversing hearing loss
- relieving sore throats
- treating colds and flus
- relieving headaches and migraines
- improving mental clarity
- purifying the blood
- improving lymphatic circulation
- clearing the eyes and improving vision
- reducing pain related to jaw aches and temporomandibular disorders
- reducing tension and stress
- reducing vertigo
Ear candle makers and supporters claim that the lit candle creates enough warmth to generate suction. This suction pulls impurities and wax out of the ear canal.
However, these claims do not make much sense, and there is currently no research or evidence to show that ear candles do what people claim they do.
Although many people dislike earwax, it is actually a self-cleansing, lubricating, and antibacterial substance for the ear canal. People without enough earwax often have dry, itchy ears.
Earwax naturally works its way out of the ear canal during motions such as chewing or swallowing. Once on the outside of the ear canal, earwax dries up and flakes away.
Earwax can build up in the ear canal. This most often occurs when a person has been digging their finger into their ear and pushing wax deeper into the canal. Anything a person puts in their ear, from cotton swabs to paper clips, can contribute to earwax buildup.
Symptoms of an earwax blockage include:
- earache or pain
- tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
- partial hearing loss
- discharge from the ears
- bad-smelling ears
- itchy ears
- a feeling of the ear being plugged or full
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