Does ear candling work?

What's going on in there? Ear candling purports to help. Credit: Stockbyte
What’s going on in there? Ear candling purports to help.
Credit: Stockbyte

Ear candling is a contentious, but popular alternative therapy, reputed to safely clear wax and debris from the ear canal and help conditions such as ear aches, infections, headaches and sinus pressure. It is thought to have originated in biblical times. But the treatment has detractors, especially in the medical profession, with some viewing it as a bogus, unproven alternative therapy.

“The process involves creating a negative pressure, which presumably sucks out the wax,” says Dr. David Schessel, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Long Island’s Stony Brook Medical Center. “There have been some evaluations of its efficacy: One showed no vacuum was created, another found that the debris collected wasn’t from the ear, but from combustion and the candle. I wouldn’t recommend it.”

Still, many spas and natural healing centers offer the service, and kits are available for in-home use. Maria Deslandes, owner of Boston’s Southwest Day Spa, introduced ear candling eight years ago after she tried it herself.

“I used to have problems with background noise,” says Deslandes. “If someone was talking and there was a noise in the background, I couldn’t hear what they were saying. I had three ear candling sessions and afterwards I could hear everything clearly,” she recalls. “I flew to Brazil a while ago and came back feeling very congested. After two sessions, it was gone. I have one client who suffered from terrible ringing in his ears and after three sessions it was significantly improved. It’s a wonderful treatment.”

Deslandes says ear candling, which takes about 15 minutes per ear and is performed with the patient lying down on a massage table, is soothing, too: “The lights are low; we have candles burning in the room. We stay and make sure it goes well. Most people say they find it very relaxing.”

Dr. Schessel not only questions its efficacy, though, but its safety too.

“Pushing something into the ear canal has the potential to do damage,” he says. “Most people think of earwax as dirt, something to be gotten out. Wax is natural and it has a purpose. It waterproofs the ear and kills bacteria. The ear is a self-cleaning structure. Severe impactions can occur.”

How it works

A candle is inserted gently into the ear canal and lit. Then the person lies without moving for 10-15 minutes. It is extinguished and the technician removes it.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Music

polyphonic

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…