Ear seeding had always been there, it has been an age-old treatment as was practiced by the Chinese acupuncture specialists. Although all these years its presence existed on a low key note, the recent craze of wellness trends has made it popular. Acupuncture has been into the mainstream with people going turning to it to treat pain, anxiety, stress and even fertility. Ear seeding seems to provide a short cut of the time-consuming expensive acupuncture procedures. It can be even done at home.
Ear seeding as a wellness trend is none other than a system of auriculotherapy. Two types of seeds are applied on the outer part of the ear, one is a metal magnetic seed and the other is the Vaccaria flower seed. They are layered with gold or crystal serving a dual purpose of fashion and a fine therapeutic device as well. We have numerous pressure points on our ear and the seeds stimulate these pressure points bringing in several health benefits.
The origin and evidence of ear seeding
How often do we experience an intense tingling sensation on our limbs if there is an obstruction in the blood flow for quite some time? It becomes unbearable to move them. Pressing the ear lobes gives quick results. We have tried it many times and realized the benefits. Ear seeding can be seen as an extension of this practice.
Ear seeding is a Chinese medical practice just like acupuncture and reflexology as held by the US National Library of Medicine. The application of ear seeds is often claimed by users that the process aids in spiritual cure. Small seeds are used to stimulate various pressure points of the ear to maintain the free flow of energy Qi through various invisible meridians of our body. According to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), this unobstructed energy flow is the key to a disease-free body.
Small studies bring out the positive effects of using ear seeds
- A 2013 study with 19 people with chronic low back pain suggests ear seeds can help in reducing pain and improving mobility
- A 2015 literature review of 15 studies on auricular acupuncture with ear seeds gave an indication that ear seeds and acupuncture combined may help in reducing insomnia.
- Another 2015 study showed improved pain tolerance with ear seeds.
However, more concrete high-quality studies are needed to support this treatment and hence it is still trying hard gaining ground.
The basis of ear seeding for anxiety
It is widely held that nerve endings in our ears have a direct connection with our brain, the central nervous system. Mona Dan, an eminent acupuncturist and the founder of acupuncture spa and clinic in Los Angeles, declared her views to ABC News Good Morning America that. Just the way our hands and feet hold a reflexology map, our ears aren’t any different.
She further holds that these ear seeds and their placement on the ear pressure points can control our nervous system. They may even calm our nerves and from this theory ear seeding for anxiety came into practice.
According to Paul Nogier, a French neurologist, considered as father of modern auriculotherapy, the ear is a nerve center. Each part of our ear corresponds to one to one mapping into other body parts. In fact he was the first to do the entire mapping of human ear back in 1950s.
According to Shan Auth, a holistic health practitioner at WTHN, our ears have more than 200 pressure points. These pressure points have a bearing on our minds when stimulated. It brings about nerve pacification make premenstrual syndromes less severe and reduces back pain. Some have experienced a drop in stress level after trying ear seeding.
So science or no science, the therapy must have some positive impact on the nervous system. Experienced acupuncturists claim that this is a non-invasive process. For those having faith in acupressure therapy but dread needle at the same time, ear seeding could be a solution.
Ear seeds can multiply the effects of acupressure points and serve as treatment all by themselves. Together with other systems of auricular therapy seeds planted on the ear can help mitigate pain in neck, back pain, anxiety, depression and many nerve-related disorders.
Why do we see ear seeding as a wellness trend?
Any unconventional practice with proven benefits is gaining acceptance in the wellness space. The same holds for ear seeding. The doctors or even traditional medicine practitioners may not be considering it as a regular treatment mode, there is no harm trying it provided it does not create any adverse effect. But claims are not to be ignored.
Ear seeding has shown its potential to treat several disorders including Chronic pain including lower back pain, Insomnia, Depression, Anxiety, Stress, Infertility, Migraine, substance Addiction and Weight loss. Cheering news for weight-watchers and intending parents!
The opinions remain divided, quite obvious. Even the patients are divided in their choice of ear seeding treatments. Some prefer to have efficient acupuncturists with proven credentials. Others opt to do it on their own. Whatever may be the choice, the accurate location of pressure points is crucial. Else it won’t work.
Self ear seeding
If you choose to do it on your own, following are the guidelines:
- Clean your ear lobes and dry them.
- Ear seeds should be placed on the outside of the ears they should never slip inside the ear canal.
- Ear seed kits are available in the market and they provide maps to the ear as a part of treatment literature. The map helps you locate specific pressure points.
- Gently place the seeds on identified points with the help of tweezers. They come attached to adhesive bands.
- Keep your fingers off the sticky side of the tape. Gently press the tape in place so that the seeds hold fast to the skin.
- You got to massage the seeds at least twice on regular basis applying circular motion for one to three minutes. This will give the best results.
- Change the seeds regularly. Generally, they come off on their own in three to five days. Even after 5 days if they hold on to your skin, remove them gently using tweezers or your nails.
- Make sure while taking them off they don’t fall into the ear canal. If they do, see a doctor.
Types of ear seeds and their life
Two types of seeds are available, the organic vaccaria plant seeds and metal seeds. Those who have a very sensitive skin allergic to metals and adhesives may use vaccaria seeds. They are placed on the ear by a tan colored tape containing latex. These seeds usually last for 4 to 5 days after which they come off on their own.
The other variety of ear seeds is the metal pellet seeds pre-attached to an adhesive tape. This is free from latex. After 5 days, self removal is recommended if they don’t fall off on their own. This suggestion is for reasons of sanitation. Greater their length of stay onsite higher is the chance of dirt deposition inviting germs.
In between replacement of seeds, the ear skin should be allowed a one day break just to minimize any chance of skin eruption. Ears are usually free from side effects. But there have been cases where nausea, sleepiness and skin rashes have been reported.
Ear seeds are available over the counter in medical shops. They come in gold plated beads in a pack of 20 seeds. Though the accompanying literature maps out the exact pressure points on which seeds are to be applied, you need to be cautious.
Ear acupuncture points need to be accurately pin pointed before application. Else the entire therapy would be a futile effort achieving nothing! So it would be best to see an experienced acupuncturist who can determine the ear map and location of points precisely.
Do the treatments go through scientific approvals?
There still isn’t any clear nod from scientists as to the credibility of the treatment. The line of demarcation between quack therapies and laboratory proved treatment is clearly described. Unfortunately, ear seeding therapy finds itself on the wrong side. As ear seed therapy still rests on weak premises, patients are always advised not to jump at its promises blindly. Consultation with doctors should be done before taking any final decision.
Common errors while applying ear seeds:
Common mistakes while applying ear seeds can become costly. They may turn into a new type of health issue that was previously absent. While taking off the buds, they can accidentally fall into ear canal and slip deeper inside inviting serious health hazards.
The inner parts of the ear are too delicate and not far away from the grey matter. Any foreign body caught inside may turn too dangerous and life threatening. Another common mistake people make is to put these pellets inside the ear canal that is too dangerous as already explained.
For some patients, these foreign particles do not go well with their skin. It is recommended they should check for any symptoms of redness, swelling or soreness on the ear lobes. In case any such signs come up, instant reporting to the doctor is advised.
Ear rings or ear seeds?
Both can be your fashion statement with the latter signifying more of a wellness fashion. Some practitioners advise 24K gold-ion plated ear seeds to alleviate certain disorders and boost energy. They adorn your ears as well (even for men). Using gold plating carries another justification. 24K gold is stimulating, induces vibrations that pick energy and boosts circulation. If that is so, why not give a try?