Mike Parker

Google ‘Ear Candling’ and nearly 620,000 websites will pop up in less than a half-second. Wow, with all that attention, there must be something to the seeminly odd practice of putting a hollow candle inside your ear and lighting it. Practitioners of the homeopathic art note that the procedure dates back to the time of the ancient Egyptians, and claim that the heat from the lighted ear candle softens ear wax, and the flame creates a vacuum in the hollow tube that will pull the ear wax residue out, along with a host of other bodily impurities.

Hogwash, says the American Academy of Audiology. Scientific studies designed to measure vacuum force produced by ear candles inserted into simulated human ear canals, indicate no vacuum of sufficient force to remove any residue was produced at any time during the trials. In fact, some studies indicate that a vacuum strong enough to remove ear wax residue would like rupture the ear drum. The Mayo Clinic reports ear candling to be completely ineffective at removing ear wax, and equally ineffective in treating any other know malady, regardless of what the ancient Egyptians might have believed.

Not only is ear candling not effective, the practice could also be hazardous to your health. The technique could force existing ear wax further down into your ear canal, or it could actually contribute to the problem by depositing candle wax into your ear. Other potential hazards include the possibility of puncturing your eardrum and burns to your face, hair, ear drum and inner ear.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns consumer against using ear candles, citing the risk of: 

  • fire
  • burns to the face, ear canal, eardrum and middle ear
  • injury to the ear from dripping wax
  • plugging of the ears by candle wax
  • bleeding
  • perforation of the eardrum
  • delay in seeking needed medical care for an underlying condition

If you have a problem with ear wax buildup, there are far better ways of treating that condition. Check with your doctor or pharmacist. And remember Grandma’s advice: never stick anything smaller than your elbow into your ear.
 

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