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What is ear candling?

Ear candling, or thermo-auricular therapy, is an ancient, non-invasive complementary therapy which helps treat conditions associated with the ear, nose and throat.

The treatment involves placing a hollow, cone-shaped tube (or ‘candle’) made of cotton, soaked in beeswax, honey and herbs about a quarter of an inch into the ear canal. The end of the candle is then light, and a gentle vacuum is created which draws out impurities such as wax and debris which may be lodged in the ear canal. The candle gradually burns down over the course of about 20-30 minutes and during this time the face and around the ears are gently massaged to stimulate the removal of excess wax and impurities. Ear candling can be particularly for conditions such as sinus problems, compacted ear wax, tinnitus and headaches. As well as these potential benefits the treatment is also relaxing.

Although it has been used for thousands of years around the world, ear candling has only recently been introduced by the NHS for use alongside conventional medical treatments such as grommets, antibiotics and ear syringing 

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.

What are ear candles used for?

Ear candling is primarily used to treat irritations and pressure in the ear, helping to relieve the discomfort of conditions such as the build-up of earwax, sinus congestion, sore throats, glue ear, rhinitis and tinnitus. It provides a pleasant and safe alternative for people who find traditional medical treatments such as syringing uncomfortable and/or ineffective, and is ideal for people of all ages – including young children and elderly people.

Because there are so many intricate crevices in the inner ear, it is easy for debris and impurities to build-up and cause problems that can interfere with hearing and cause discomfort. Regular removal of yeasts, allergies or compacted wax through ear candle treatment can help to restore hearing, relieve tension and pressure in the ear, while cleansing the sinus cavities of bacteria that thrive in the dark moist conditions of the inner ear.  

What happens during a treatment?

When carried out professionally, an ear candling session can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience for the client. At the start of the session you will have a full consultation, in which your therapist will discuss your medical history and current symptoms to help assess if ear candling is the right treatment for you and what your expectations are.

You will then be placed in a comfortable position on your side on a massage couch before the therapist gently places a specialised candle into your ear. This will be lit and held firmly in place while it burns for an average of 10 minutes.

You are likely to experience a crackling sound as the candle burns, and feel a warm and gentle massaging sensation in the ear. When the candle has burned completely, it will be removed from your ear and extinguished. This process is then repeated for the other ear.

Once both ears have been treated, your therapist will massage the area around the ears and face to encourage lymphatic drainage and enhance the effects of the candling. You can also request to see the inside of the burnt out candle to reveal the condition of your ears. A lot of people report an immediate relief of pressure after the treatment

Some people may experience relief straight after the first session but more may be needed depending on your age, the nature of your ailment and how long you have had it for. Generally, the older you are and the longer you have had the condition, the more ear candle treatment sessions you will need to see a noticeable improvement. There is also the question of how complex the condition is, as some are easier to treat than others.

Ear candling benefits 

Ear candling is a holistic treatment - therefore it is not designed to be a specific cure for any particular ailment. However, there are considered to be a number of healing benefits and regular treatment is thought to stimulate and heal parts of the mind and body that extend beyond the immediate surrounding of the inner ear.

Regular ear candling treatments are thought to provide beneficial relief from the following conditions: migraines, hay fever, anxiety and stress post flying and driving pressure,swimmer’s ear, asthma, vertigo, yeast infections colds, snoring, itching in the ears.

Ear candling can be more effective for relieving wax build up than the conventional ear syringing method used by medical professionals. Syringing involves shooting water into the ears, which can lodge wax particles further inside the ear canal causing more discomfort. If water stays lodged inside the ear for too long this can lead to infection. Ear candle treatment however is non-invasive and works by drawing out the wax rather than compacting it in further.

The treatment is not carried out soon after any form of ear surgery and if a client has any of the following: cysts in the ears, high blood pressure, on-going ear or sinus infections, cochlear implants, allergies to any products in the candle, inflammation in the ears, perforated eardrums, grommets or tubes in the ears, acute otosclerosis (an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear), mastoiditis (an infection of the mastoid bone behind the ear), difficulty breathing around small amounts of smoke.