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Ear candling

Related Terms

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Background

  • Ear candling, also called thermo-auricular therapy or "coning," is a home remedy used for outer-ear hygiene and for general well-being. During an ear-candling session, the ear to be treated is oriented upwards: the patient's head faces left or right so that one ear is up and one ear is down. A wax-impregnated fabric tube is inserted into the outer ear, is ignited, and burns for about 10 minutes. (Since the tube is hollow, wax and burnt fabric may enter the outer ear.)
  • Some proponents claim that ear candles address problems such as ear aches, sinus infections, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), sinus pain and pressure, and vertigo. Some ear candlers claim that the process removes ear wax during the ear-candling session. Others say the procedure warms and softens ear wax, thus aiding its subsequent elimination. Another benefit cited is that smoke and heat directed into the outer ear dry up moisture that might otherwise cause infection.
  • The origins of ear candling are unclear. Among the ancient civilizations said by ear candle distributors and ear-candling practitioners to have used the technique are the Chinese, Indian, Tibetan, Egyptian, and Aztec civlizations, as well as the Hopi tribe in North America.
  • Earwax, or cerumen, is the soft, brownish yellow, waxy secretion (a modified sebum) of the ceruminous glands of the external auditory canal (outer ear). According to some researchers at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, Scotland, some patients may have the misunderstanding that ear wax is a pathological (harmful) secretion and its mere presence is reason for its removal. In fact, the American Academy of Otolaryngology (AAO) advises that ear wax is a naturally occurring substance that cleans, protects, and lubricates the external auditory canal. In other words, ear wax is beneficial. Normally, earwax is eliminated by self-cleaning mechanisms, aided by chewing and other jaw movements, which cause old ear wax to "migrate" toward the outside of the ear, where it flakes off.
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Technique

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Theory/Evidence

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Safety

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.