Ear candling is an ancient technique some believe can draw out earwax and treat sinus infections. Not only is the process ineffective, it is also dangerous.
What Is Ear Candling?
Ear candling has been traced back to the spiritual healing beliefs of the Hopi Indians. The process involves placing the tapered end of a 10-inch hollow candle into the ear. The other end of the candle is then lit.
Those who practice this ancient ritual think that the flame creates suction and pulls earwax out of the ear. This process is rooted in the (false) belief that the passages in the head are connected, so when the ear canal is cleaned and free of wax you are left with a clear head. It is also thought to relieve:
It is important to note that there is no scientific research to support any of these claims.
The Dangers of Ear Candling
Experts caution users against this practice for a number of reasons.
Inner and Outer Ear Injuries
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns consumers about the dangers of ear candling, even issuing a warning against the practice. They explain that even when users follow all manufacturer instructions, ear candles can still lead to serious injuries, including burns to the face, ear canal, eardrum and middle ear; injuries to the ear and face from melting wax; earwax plugging up the ear and puncture of the eardrum.
Lack of Scientific Evidence
Ear candling does not work. According to the clinical deputy of the FDA’s Division of Ophthalmic, Neurological and Ear, Nose and Throat Devices, Dr. Eric Mann, the “FDA believes there is no valid scientific evidence for any medical benefit from their use.”
There is no research to corroborate the claim that lighting a candle in the ear is effective at removing earwax. If anything, the process can push the earwax deeper into the ear canal.
Earwax Is Normal
Earwax is part of a healthy ear. Known as cerumen, earwax prevents dirt and bacteria from entering the ear and helps to keep the ear canal moist. Most people produce just the right amount of earwax to keep their ears healthy.
If you think you may need your earwax to be removed, there are safe and effective ways to do so. The experts at North Alabama ENT Associates can help by examining your ear and creating a recommended treatment plan.