Its name might have you conjuring up an image of candlesticks, naked flames and hot, melting wax. But, thankfully, this isn’t strictly true.
An ancient, non-invasive complementary therapy, ear candling is designed to help treat conditions associated with the ear, nose and throat. The treatment involves placing a cotton, cone-shaped tube (or ‘candle’) that has been soaked in beeswax, honey and herbs into the ear canal. This helps to stimulate the ear and facilitate the removal of excess wax and other impurities.
What can it help with?
As a result of the many intricate crevices in the inner ear, it’s easy for debris to build-up in our ears. But, this can cause problems that can interfere with hearing, as well as causing discomfort.
The primary purpose of ear candling is to treat irritations and pressure in the ear, helping to relieve the discomfort of conditions such as the buildup of earwax, sinus problems, sore throats, tinnitus and headaches.
How does it work?
The candle is placed gently about a quarter of an inch into the ear and is then lit from the end. This allows heat to pass down through the candle, deep into the ear canal. It’s this movement of heat that generates an air flow that functions like a chimney; the warm air comes into contact with colder air and a vacuum effect is created – drawing out any wax and other debris that may be lodged in the ear canal.
Whilst the NHS states that “there is no proof that ear candles get rid of earwax“, many people report other benefits from the treatment. Some report an immediate relief of pressure after the treatment, with many people praising the treatment for bringing about a lighter sensation in their head and ears.
What happens during a session?
To start, you will lie in a comfortable position on your side on a massage couch. The therapist will then gently place a specialised candle into your ear, which will be lit and held firmly in place while it burns. You can expect to hear a crackling sound as the candle burns and feel a warm, massaging sensation in the ear. The process usually takes an average of 10 minutes.
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 to encourage lymphatic drainage. You can request to see the inside of the burnt out candle to reveal the condition of your ears.
Is it right for me?
Before you undergo any treatment, you will have a full consultation with your therapist discussing your medical history and current symptoms. This will allow the therapist to assess if ear candling is the right treatment for you, and understand what your expectations are.
If you find traditional medical treatments (such as syringing) uncomfortable and/or ineffective, ear candling provides a pleasant and safe alternative. It is ideal for people of all ages – including young children and elderly people. Ear candling can be deeply relaxing, enhanced by the infusion of herbs and essential oils in the candle itself. This turns to vapour when the candle is lit which is then drawn into the ear canal where it creates a soothing, massaging effect that protects and softens any irritated areas in the ear.
While it is considered a more comfortable and painless alternative to medical treatments such as syringing or surgery, ear candling does carry risks. Having a lit candle inserted into the ear requires expert handling and supervision in order to avoid potential problems, such as damage to the eardrum or burns to the face, hair, ear canal, or middle ear.
Generally, though, ear candling is a safe, simple and relaxing holistic remedy helpful in relieving a range of ailments – as long as the treatment is not used excessively or carried out incorrectly. This is why it is important to seek out a qualified practitioner. They will carry out the treatment professionally, ensuring that it is a relaxing and enjoyable experience for you.