Ear Candling

It’s not always easy to tell when a home remedy
is really effective. Sometimes conditions resolve on their own, and we wrongly assume
the remedy worked. Sometimes our minds provide us with relief because we are expecting relief
to come. Sometimes the ritual around a home remedy has unintended effects that provide
some actual relief that have nothing to do with the home remedy. A good example of this challenge is in the
practice of ear candling. In ear candling, a hollow tube made of wax covered paper or
cloth is inserted into the ear, then lit on fire. The claim is that the gentle heat and
vacuum draws out ear wax, toxins and pathogens. That’s a specific claim that scientists can
test, and I’ll talk about the evidence in a minute. The claims about ear candling are based on
anecdotes, stories where someone feels better after ear candling; sinus headaches go away,
or ringing in the ears diminishes. If someone you know tells you about such an experience,
it can be very persuasive. Scientists, on the other hand, don’t put much emphasis on
these stories. Science is conducted with facts that can be objectively tested and verified. With that in mind, I want to review just what
we can objectively test and verify. 1. Ear candling does not produce a measurable
amount of vaccuum or pressure when inserted into a simulated ear. Scientists in Washington
state hooked a tympanometer, which measures very small pressure changes, to an artificial
type of ear used specifically to test ear safety. It has all the properties of a human
ear. No measurable pressure change occurred… and that’s not surprising. An open cone like
that used in ear candling can’t maintain a vacuum precisely because it is an open vessel. 2. The waxy substance inside an ear candle
contains no chemical traces of ear wax when used in patients’ ears. The composition of
this substance is 100% candle wax. People using these candles peel them apart and marvel
at the dark wax inside, but chemical analysis proves that this is 100% candle wax, darkened
by smoke products. People have made multiple videos here on YouTube showing that the dark
wax is present even when not inserted into an ear, but laboratory testing of candles
used according to directions in the ears of patients also contain no ear wax. 3. When people with ear wax impactions, big
balls of the stuff lodged in the middle ear, used ear candles, examinations of before and
after conditions show no change in the amount of ear wax present in the ear. All that was
shown was that candle wax was present inside the ear after candling. 4. The temperature of smoke and vapor produced
by ear candling in an ear analog is lower than that of body temperature, so there’s
no thermal effect from added heat. Scientists measured the air temperature from just below
the lit ear candle, 10 mm below to be precise, and found that it was 22 degrees Celsius,
or 71 degrees Farenheit, well below the temperature of the middle ear. This eliminates the possibility
that the candle is providing heat to the middle ear to liquefy wax. 5. There are no records of any Native American
tribe, including the Hopi, ever using ear candling as a therapy. Representatives of
the Hopi tribal group have stated clearly that this practice is not part of their traditional
practices. It’s simple to trace this claim to the Biosun website, where they claim that
a German writer in 1993 contacted a person he claimed to be the Hopi Elder and that he
confirmed ear candling to be traditional medicine. They freely admit that there are no other
written records of this practice. 6. Ear candling is not without risk. Let’s
explore this a little further. What are the potential harms: A. It’s clear that at least in some cases,
ear candles deposit candle wax into the middle ear and possibly inner ear. No matter how
herbal or all-natural these substances are, burning wax, and plant matter produces toxic
combustion products. B. In some cases, the inserting of the candle
or introduction of combustion products has produced permanent damage to hearing, including
ruptured ear drums. C. Depending on how the candle is used, it
can cause skin burns and injury to the face or ear. D. In multiple instances, ear candling resulted
in a dangerous fire that put human lives at jeopardy and destroyed property. With all the objective facts in hand, it’s
hard to explain why people keep putting burning wax next to their heads and hair. There’s
nothing we can verify with objective testing about the claims being made and in fact the
primary claims are clearly false when compared to lab results. Why do otherwise intelligent and reasonable
people still do this? It’s because there are still plenty of people who make claims that
they got better. I think it’s because our brains are not perfect reasoning engines.
We can’t entirely dismiss the stories we hear from friends, our own prior experiences. People
want to take control of their health. People want to feel they are making smart choices
and treating their bodies with respect. If you, like me, want to make smart health choices
that are based on the best evidence, I hope you’ll consider the facts discussed before
putting a lit candle in your ear… and if you want to help other people to make informed
decisions about their health, feel free to forward them this video, and share it on social
media. Good health to you, and thanks for watching.


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