(Investigator 165, 2015 November)
Ear candling or ear coning is a non-invasive holistic
method that supposedly helps clean out ear wax and other discomforts.
Its origins have been traced to ancient Chinese, Mayan and Egyptian
cultures, and it is said that when the Europeans first came to North
America they learned it from the Hopi Indians.
The middle ear has a cavity between the eardrum and the
inner ear. Connecting to that cavity is the eustachian tube.
Any debris, fluid or wax build up in the cavity or
eustachian tube will not allow the small bones in the middle ear to
transmit sound properly. Ear candling is said to remove the obstruction
by convection. It is also believed to work on the physical body by
detoxifying the sinus, lymphatic, and other systems through realigning
the flow of cranial fluids.
Other benefits attributed to ear cleaning include
regulating pressure, assistance with post nasal drip, sinusitis,
catarrh, migraines, some forms of hearing loss, restoration of
equilibrium, relieving tinnitus, vertigo and Meniere's Disease.
Ear candles are made from strips of pure cotton muslin
that have been dipped into a mixture of wax and different herbs such as
sage, Swedish bitters, cedar, spearmint, echinacea, golden seal and
rosemary. These herbs are believed to contain natural antibiotics and
The process involves placing the narrow end of the
candle into the entry of the ear canal while the opposite end is lit.
The spiral design of the cone creates a vacuum which draws smoothing
smoke into the ear canal, the eustachian tube and into the lymphatic
system where, through the process of osmosis, it draws accumulations
out into the cone. Some candles are made of beeswax, others a mixture
that includes paraffin.
Treatment by professional ear candlers require two
visits and cost up to $60 a time.
I was once given some good advice — never put anything
in your ear smaller than your elbow. There is no scientific validation
of the claims made on behalf of ear candling, and it is difficult to
see how an external vacuum can draw anything out from the middle ear
when the eardrum separates the two. Furthermore, the eustacean canal is
also situated behind the eardrum and drains downwards into the back of
There are also some contra-indications of ear candles —
recent ear surgery, cysts in the ear, mastoiditis, ear drains (tubes),
osteosclerosis, ankylosis of the stapes, paracentesis, acquired
hearingloss, congenital hearing loss and tumour of the ear.
The harmful effects of candles containing paraffin wax
include chronic dermatitis, wax boils, folliculitis, comedomes,
melanoderma, papules, and hyperkeratoses. The methyl ethyl ketone used
to recover paraffin from crude oil can also cause irritation of the
eyes, headaches, dizziness and vomiting. It can also attack the central
nervous system and lungs.
Cecil Adams, in an article on ear candling, in the Los Angeles Reader, conducted some
experiments in conjunction with two M.Ds. They found no change in the
patient's ear, but when the remaining two inches of the candle was
sliced open, they found a considerable quantity of brown wax and
The ear candling manual intimated that the powder was
candida yeast extracted from the ear, conceding that possibly 1% to 10%
was from the used candle. However, when a second candle was sliced
open, wax and powder identical to that in the first was found. A con?
Some advertisers include disclaimers in their
advertisements. One informs clients that "I am not a doctor and
therefore cannot diagnose or make any claims
for healings that may occur".
Speaking with the experience of one who has a build up
of wax in the ears which frequently requires removal, I would recommend
that a consultation with a G.P. would be more
prudent than risking such delicate and important organs to those whose
treatment is based solely on belief.
Adams, Cecil. Do Ear Candles Work? In The Straight
Dope, Los Angeles Reader,
March 17. (No year)
From: Edwards, H. 1999 Alternative, Complementary, Holistic &
Spiritual Healing, Australian Skeptics