Does At-Home Ear Seed Acupuncture Work?
Ear seed acupuncture is becoming a popular, at-home remedy for a variety of health alignments. What exactly is it, and can it actually have a positive effect on your wellbeing? Or are these seeds simply glorified stick-on-earrings with no real benefit? Keep reading to find out.
What Are Ear Seeds?
Ear seeds are typically made of vaccaria seeds — the vaccaria plant is prominent in Traditional Chinese Medicine and associated with the liver and stomach meridians — though they can also be made of metal or ceramic beads. These seeds or beads are placed on adhesive tape, which you can put directly on your ears. (While they’re easy to place yourself, it’s best to talk with a practitioner first so you can learn how to safely and effectively do it!)
Ear seed acupuncture, also called auriculotherapy, is different from traditional acupuncture in that you don’t need to use needles. Yet both practices are rooted in the same healing belief system. Ear seeds work with specific pressure points found in the ears to unblock stuck qi, similar to how needles are placed in specific acupoints along meridian lines found in the body in acupuncture. Both practices say that moving qi blockages helps a variety of health conditions.
A key difference between the two healing practices is that ear seeds can be kept on the skin for days at a time. People can still shower, exercise, and sleep with them on, unlike acupuncture needles that stay in the body for only a handful of minutes while you’re lying down. Ear seeds usually fall out naturally between three and five days, but can also be removed at anytime.
How Do Ear Seeds Exactly Work?
Auriculotherapy stimulates the auricle (aka our external ear) with either needles or pressure to treat adverse health symptoms located throughout the body. According to TCM practitioners, there are hundreds of acupuncture points found in the ear that correspond to various organs, hormones, and body systems.
By applying pressure to the external ear, nerves are stimulated which in turn “talks” to our central nervous system and triggers neurotransmitters that help us relax and lessen pain. (1) Studies also show that applying pressure to ear seeds can improve peripheral blood circulation and elevate endorphins, our body’s natural painkiller. (2) (3)
What Ear Seeds Can Treat
In case you were wondering, no — ear seeds aren’t only used for ear aches or other health issues located on or near the ear. Since the ears are connected to the entire body, people use ear seeds to treat a handful of health ailments, which include:
- Chronic pain
- Weight gain
Remember: It’s best to work with a medical expert to fully understand your symptoms, along with the appropriate treatment plan.
DIY Ear Seeds — How to Use Ear Seeds Correctly
After you’ve worked with a practitioner, it’s pretty easy to apply ear seeds at home. However, the most common mistake people make when doing so is putting them inside the ear canal. Do not put them inside the ear canal. We repeat: Do not put them inside the ear canal! Instead, place the seeds along the outside of the ear. Have a doctor show you exactly where they should go for optimal results.
Now, follow these tips to ensure you get the best results from ear seed acupuncture:
- Clean and dry the outside of your ear. Make sure the outside of your ear is thoroughly cleaned and toweled off
- Identify the correct points. It’s best to work with an acupuncturist prior to help you find the best points to apply the seeds. Certain ear seed kits might also come with a chart that shows these locations if you need a refresher
- Use tweezers to apply the ear seed. Your ear seeds will likely already be attached to adhesive tape. Avoid touching the sticky side and use tweezers to place them on the correct points
- Apply gentle pressure. Rub the seeds in a circular motion for one to three minutes. Do this two to three times a day
- Change them out regularly. If your ear seeds are still in place after five days, remove and replace with a fresh pair. Using tweezers, tilt your head towards the ground before taking them off to avoid seeds getting caught in the ear canal. If a seed does fall into your ear and gets stuck, see a practitioner ASAP.
Ear seeds are definitely trending, and for good reason: there’s science to back up the benefits, and hundreds of positive testimonials from ear seed fanatics. Better yet, experts say there are no side effects and are generally super safe and easy to use.
Let us know: Have you tried ear seed acupuncture? What was your experience like? Leave us a comment below!
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