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Hopi Ear Candling: Help or Hoax?

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 30 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Hopi Ear Candling Alternative Therapy

Human beings have suffered with ear problems for thousands of years, and often the way to relieve pressure or waxy-build-up involved sticking something in the ear canal to alleviate pressure and draw out the wax.

Ear candles have traditionally been seen as just one way to get rid of waxy build-up in the ear, involving special ingredients that use what is called a “chimney effect” to help bring out impurities from deep inside the ear.

In recent years, what is known as Hopi ear candles have become popular, a type of candle that supposedly was made popular by the American Hopi Indians of Arizona.

These candles, its proponents say, not only help relieve ear problems such as tinnitus and excessive wax, but also promote a feeling of calm and well-being throughout the entire body.

Also known as Thermo Auricular Therapy, the use of Hopi ear candles now are advertised as being suitable to treat a wide variety of problems, such as asthma, migraines, poor circulation, anxiety and stress, and even as a way to boost the body’s metabolism.

But do they really work? Some people say yes, others are not so sure…

Origins of Hopi Ear Candles

Ear candling dates back to the ancient Greeks, but Hopi ear candling is the type which really made a splash in modern-day Europe.

Followers of this type of alternative therapy say that the Hopi Indians had murals of ear candling on ancient walls in the Grand Canyon, and that it is an ancient Indian practice which dates back centuries.

Hopi Indian spokespeople, however, say that they have never practised ear candling, and that is nothing more than a white man’s fantasy.

In fact, ear candling is not recommended as a serious healing technique in the United States, where it supposedly originated, and it is not legal to market the candles as a way to treat or diagnose any type of illness or disease.

People who are trained in doing safe ear candling, however, say that when done properly by carefully trained practitioners, this type of alternative medicine does a lot more good than harm, and is very pleasant and a fantastic way to relieve stress as well.

How It Works

Ear candling, also known as coning, is fairly simple. Patients lie on their side, after removing jewellery and make-up, with their ear canal visible to the practitioner.

The candle itself is actually not a candle but a cotton tube, usually made from special organic fibres and impregnated with beeswax and often a host of soothing minerals and other ingredients. One end is inserted gently into the ear canal, then the other end is lit.

The candle should produce a pleasant sound as it gently works to have impurities in the ear rise to the surface, in a process which takes about ten minutes. Afterwards, the other ear has the same treatment.

A Word of Caution

Please keep in mind that because the ear is so delicate, you should only have a trained professional perform ear candling of any sort on you. There have been cases where people have suffered serious burns when ear candling was not carried out correctly.

Also, if you have any serious ear problems, it is advised to see your GP first. People with grommets in their ears should avoid ear candling at all costs.

Be aware as well that the jury is still out as to whether ear candling is beneficial or not. Some studies have said that the “candles” do not produce enough suction to have any effect, others have claimed the practice has helped not only their ears, but given them an entire new lease on life.

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