|Posted on 14 May, 2018 at 0:20|
Hopi Ear Candling - the great ear wax debate!
Hopi Ear Candling or Thermal Auricular Therapy is believed to have been first used by the Hopi Indians – paintings of ear candles have been found dating back centuries, but many other cultures use heat for healing purposes as well as for warmth and cooking.
I trained in Hopi Ear Candling many years ago and was taught a wonderfully relaxing treatment which I (quite rightly) thought would be great to offer to my clients in the salon. Having done my training I got a bit curious about the earwax thing and did some further research which included a rather awkward phone conversation with a doctor at BIOSUN (a brand of ear candles). I now teach ear candling mainly to tutors in international schools and examine students taking their exams in ear candling.
Ear candling is a lovely treatment and can be extremely effective when used to help many conditions but is so poorly taught that we have a very high expectation of this ancient therapy – all over the internet we see that 'ear candling doesn't work' because ‘nothing came out’ alongside comments from therapists celebrating the amount of ear wax that has been ‘sucked out of the clients’ ear’.
Ear candling may help to improve many conditions including snoring, excessive or compacted ear wax, headaches and migraine, catarrh and sinus problems. Many other conditions can be improved by Hopi ear candling but we never make any promises – the candles form part of a gentle, holistic treatment which is definitely not a cure all and should never be described as such!
The treatment itself – what to expect
In brief, in a salon or clinic setting, once you are comfortably lying on your side, the ear candle (not really a candle but more a long straw!) is inserted into the entrance of the ear canal, the end is lit, and the flame allowed to burn down to a red marker line. A massage to the ear may follow at this point or the client may be asked to turn onto their other side to treat the other ear straight away.
Once both ears have been treated a soothing massage to the face and neck usually follows before the client is offered some water/herbal tea and should then be given some aftercare advice.
It’s not advisable to carry out candling on yourself – I always check the ear canal before candling (impossible on yourself) and the angle of insertion is important too to ensure you get a good ‘seal’ around the base of the candle. Surely, it’s much more relaxing to have it done for you. After all, relaxation and stress relief are reasons for candling!
Once both ears have been treated (yes both, for reasons of balance!) a professional will open the candles to check the residue.
And here it comes…the moment I rain on a lot of parades and upset a lot of professional therapists….
On opening the candle very often a wax-like substance is visible along with yellow powder. The amounts and proportions of both substances can vary both from ear to ear as well as from treatment to treatment.
Many therapists I have spoken with over the years have been taught that the waxy stuff is ear wax. Many clients that I have met who have had ear candling elsewhere have also been told that this is ear wax. In fact, I was taught that this stuff was ear wax! (And believed it until that rather awkward phone conversation!)
After all.... the ear candles 'suck it all out' don't they??
NO! IT'S NOT EAR WAX!!!
But it must be...it's orangey brown and waxy...... and it looks yukky - exactly like ear wax…!!!
NO! IT’S NOT EAR WAX!!
Yes, you’re right, it does look like ear wax but sadly it’s this belief that has the medical profession rolling their eyes at the beauty industry and the complimentary therapists and it’s the reason that many people have been misled – oh, the arguments I’ve had!
The simple way to dispel the great ear wax argument is to look at the ear candles themselves and how they are made.
In this case I will be talking about the brand 'Biosun' candles (other ear candles are available but NO! IT’S STILL NOT EAR WAX!!)
1. Biosun candles are made from flax, a type of cotton fabric. Fabric doesn't usually stand up by itself, so it needs to be stiffened with something. In this case beeswax is used, some other candles may be stiffened with soy wax or paraffin wax (quite dangerous to use as this can contain lots of impurities which do not burn safely!). When beeswax melts it looks spookily like ear wax
2. A safety feature of Biosun candles is that there is a filter inside to prevent burning particles or other 'bits' entering the ear canal as the candle burns down. If anything was being sucked out of the ear it would need to pass through this filter, surely this would leave residue in the filter? The residue inside the candle is the remains of the flax and beeswax, the wax having melted and run down the inside of the candle itself.
3. The effect produced by the candle is a very gentle ‘chimney effect’ only strong enough to draw vapour up inside the candle. Think about an open fire; the chimney draws the flame upwards…it doesn’t suck the logs. coal or ash up the chimney!
If the suction was strong enough to ‘suck ear wax’ out of the ear then surely it would do some damage to the ear drum? Wouldn’t the client feel that? The ear wax sits quite deep inside the ear – that’s a heck of a suction!
4. Try burning an ear candle whilst it’s stuck in a lump of blue tack. You’ll very likely find some ‘ear wax’ inside afterwards!
So, who’s it for?
It’s for anyone – that is, unless there is a contra indication present which would be checked in your consultation. It’s a relaxing soothing treatment which may help to bring a little extra relief to ‘heady’ conditions.
How does it feel?
It feels warm; you may hear some fizzing or popping, perhaps like sausages sizzling in a pan. And despite what you may have read or been told, the noise is just the candle burning!
What happens afterwards?
You may feel your ears are a little sensitive, your hearing may be slightly improved. You should be advised not to get too much water in your ears whilst in the shower. Over the next 48 hrs or so you may notice a little extra ear wax coming out of your ears – this is what the candling actually does, it stimulates the ear to do what ears do …. cleanse themselves!
And yes, I’m absolutely positive…… it’s not ear wax!