Feeling blocked up and bloated? Over-tired and stressed? Digestive system not functioning optimally? One of the many physical symptoms resulting from a poorly functioning digestive system is a production of excessive ear wax. Now there is an easy way to flush your system of ear wax, whilst detoxing and relaxing all at the same time.

——-

Summary:

Edzard Ernst, the professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter and co-author of the book Trick or Treatment, published a review article in 2004 in the Journal of Laryngology and Otology entitled: “Ear candles: a triumph of ignorance over science”. He concluded; “Ear candling is one of those CAM modalities that clearly does more harm than good…..it’s mechanism of action is first implausible and second, demonstrably wrong..in my view, therefore, it should be banned (1)”.

Many scientific studies have been conducted on ear candling, several examining the claim that they remove ear wax. In order to do this, they would need to draw a vacuum. A study by Seely et al., (2) using 2 different brands of ear candles, demonstrated this not to be the case.

The Seely study also contains a clinical arm, where 122 ear nose and throat specialists were surveyed. The authors reported 21 cases of serious injury caused by ear candling. In 6 of these cases, patients temporarily lost their hearing. Other problems reported among the group included, 13 cases of burns, 7 cases where the wax from the candle had blocked the ear canal and 1 case of a punctured ear drum (2).

Based on this evidence and studies conducted by their own laboratories, the Canadian authorities have banned ear candles from sale and import into Canada.

When you look at the evidence, ear candling is dangerous. What part of putting burning sticks in your ears sounds like a good idea to you?

——-

Introducing ear candles!

This week I present to you an alternative modality that encompasses just about every misconception made by CAM, defies the laws of science in every possible way, and above all is dangerous. Most of us would remember our mothers telling us not to put anything in our ears smaller than our elbows rght? I don’t remember her ever mentioning burning sticks, but then why would she, she knew I was not that gullible. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for other people….

What is ear candling?

An ear candle, ear cone or Hopi ear candle is a narrow, hollow cone that has been soaked in beeswax or paraffin and allowed to harden. The process of ear candling involves the patient lying on his or her side while someone else inserts the point of the cone inside the ear. The top of the cone is then set on fire and left to burn for 5 – 15 minutes.

The health claim most often made for ear candling is that the flame creates suction, which draws ear wax out of the ear canal. Proponents say the evidence for this is in the candle itself – when you have finished candling, you cut open the candle to expose the brown waxy mush at the bottom which they claim is ear wax and “toxins”. Promoters also say that ear candling can cure a wide range of medical problems, including ear aches, headaches, sinus pain/infections, sinus pressure, tinnitus, vertigo. In addition, they are said to remove impurities from the ear passages by drawing excess yeast, fungus, and bacteria from the sinuses and lymph glands and even revitalize the chakras. Of course, I could go on, but I think you get the idea…

Yet, absolutely none of this is true.

Ear candling does more harm than good.

ear-candle-wax

oooh, yukky ear wax and toxins...oh hang on, it's just candle wax. Science says so.

I’m almost embarrassed to tell you that good science from proper scientists and doctors has been wasted testing these things. The seminal study on the safety and efficacy of ear candles was published in the journal Laryngoscope in 1996. The authors were particularly interested in the claim that the candles create a vacuum so they used a pressure device to measure changes in pressure for the duration of the burn. In 20 trials with 2 different candle types, they detected no negative pressure at any point during the trial.

In a clinical trial also conducted as part of this study, 4 people (2 with ear wax and 2 without), the authors reported the candles did not remove ear wax as proposed and in fact, in some cases candle wax was actually deposited in patient’s ears (2).

The authors also conducted a survey of 122 ear nose and throat specialists and found 21 cases of serious injury caused by ear candling. In 6 of these cases, patients temporarily lost their hearing. Other problems reported among the group included, 13 cases of burns, 7 cases where the wax from the candle had blocked the ear canal and 1 case of a punctured ear drum (2).

Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter and co-author of Trick or Treatment, published a review article in 2004 in the Journal of Laryngology and Otology entitled: “Ear candles: a triumph of ignorance over science”. He concluded; “Ear candling is one of those CAM modalities that clearly does more harm than good…..it’s mechanism of action is first implausible and second, demonstrably wrong..in my view, therefore, it should be banned” (1).

The website quackwatch also published a frequently cited article where they illustrate the dangers of ear candling with the following stories;

A Canadian woman who experienced stuffiness in the nose and ear pains while scuba diving went to a local health-food store and was referred to a “qualified” candler. During the “treatment,” she felt an intense burning in her ear. At the emergency room, attempts to remove wax that had dripped from the candle onto her eardrum failed. Surgery was required, and a hole in her eardrum was discovered, which presumably was caused by the procedure. She recovered fully and luckily her hearing was not affected. The practitioner apologized, compensated the woman, and stopped performing ear candling.

In addition, instances of house fires associated with ear candling have been reported in Alaska, one of which led to the user’s death. On January 27, 2005 a 59-year-old woman ignited her bedding when she dropped an ear candle that she was attempting to use the ear without assistance. The candle ignited the bedding then quickly spread to curtains and other combustibles in the room. The woman escaped the fire however, suffered an asthma attack in hospital and later died.

Ear candles are banned for sale or import in Canada, but sold in Australian Pharmacies.

Based on this evidence and studies conducted by their own laboratories, the Canadian authorities banned ear candles from sale and import into Canada. The Health Canada website has this to say about ear candling;

…the sale of this product for therapeutic purposes in Canada is illegal. As well, both Canada and the United States have issued directives that ban the importing of ear candles. Some promoters try to avoid the Regulations by advertising that ear candles are for entertainment purposes only. However, Health Canada maintains that these people are selling the product illegally, for medical purposes, as there is no other reasonable use for ear candles.”

Which makes it even more preposterous that in Australia they are listed with the TGA meaning they can be sold in pharmacies alongside science-based medicine.

This is a complete failure on behalf of the TGA with respect to protecting the public from harm. The Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods Devices lists 13 different types of ear candles including this nonsense, Alternet Detox Spa Series Ear Candles and these from Why Karma Natural Health Products described as “to apply a simple treatment of ear cleansing directly to the ear”. You know, one has to wonder what the role of this clearly constipated government body is in protecting the public from harm when they register this nonsense. You only need make a cursory glance at PubMed, to determine that these things are not only nonsense, but dangerous.

I personally have had experiences with staff in pharmacies regarding these devices, one who old me she wouldn’t recommend then to customers but they sell really well so what can you do, and another who looked at me blankly when I suggested that ear candles have no place in a pharmacy. Of course, I don’t expect a kid with an after school job to know that these things are a scam and worse still, can perforate your eardrums, but I do expect the pharmacist to know. And I do expect the government to not turn a blind eye.

Ear candling does not stem from ancient Indian tribes.

Here’s an example of one ear candle company who have hijacked the history of an ancient Indian tribe to add legitimacy to their product.

The Biosun company claims that their “Hopi Ear Candles are” based on “the formula that is traditional to the Hopi Indians of the USA- cotton, beeswax, honey, sage, chamomile and St John’s Wort. The Hopi who are renowned for their great medicinal knowledge collaborated with Biosun to pass their formula on to the rest of the world”.

Pfft. Well not according to Vanessa Charles, the public relations officer for the Hopi Tribal Council, who has stated there is no such treatment within traditional Hopi healing practices. Vanessa has said that ear candling “is not and has never been a practice conducted by the Hopi tribe or the Hopi people”. And even though The Hopi tribe has repeatedly asked Biosun, to stop using the Hopi name Biosun has not complied with this request and continues to claim that ear candles originated within the Hopi tribe.

If I have still not convinced you that ear candles are a load of rot, why not become an earconologist? Become a Certified Earconologist with a Correspondence Course from The Awareness Institute and perform a wonderful service to yourself and others. “The course consists of learning about the History of Ear Candling, Ear Anatomy, Candling Procedure, Cause and Effect, and much more”.

It just goes to show, people will believe just about any nonsense.

The take home message:

1) EAR CANDLES ARE DANGEROUS AND STUPID.

2) THEY DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD.

3) THEY WILL NOT REMOVE WAX FROM YOUR EARS.

4) IN SOME CASES THEY HAVE DEPOSITED WAX.

5) DON’T USE THEM.

1. The Journal of Laryngology and Otology. “Ear candles: a triumph of ignorance over science”. Ernst, E. (2004) 118: pp 1-2.

2. Seely DR, Quigley SM, Langman AW. Ear candles- efficacy and safety. Laryngoscope. 1996: Oct;106(10):1226-9.


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  • JFo

    Is this blog written by someone completely inept? I don’t doubt that there is some myth and story spinning involved in where candling began and how…but some “facts” mentioned in the blog are completely untrue. In no part of Canada is ear candling illegal, being Canadian, I have had the process performed legally several times. The only part of it that I agree to is that you should have it done under supervision of someone else and in a well ventilated room away from flammables.

  • snoozie

    This sounds like a topic for Mythbusters.

    Nevertheless, I stand my my control test. If anyone burned one of these candles without putting it in someone’s ear and compared it to one that was in someone’s ear, they would find out that the results are the same – it isn’t doing anything. Try it – you will find that there isn’t anything different happening. What you see is simply the same results as if the candle was not used in someone’s ear.

  • Tenebras

    What mental handicap do people have that allows them to fall for utter dangerous bs, and then KEEP falling for it even after it’s been explained to them? I don’t get it. Is the product of our “education” system, where people are taught to dumbly memorize and repeat things that people tell them with no thought at all? Or are they just stupid from birth?

  • Rob

    Well we have used them for years. They have been great for our family and friends. They have stopped the need of tubes in many cases. I don’t think you guys are doing it right. I’m sorry you don’t know how to do it. But why are you trying to mess it up for everyone else? Are you in medical field and it takes money from you or what?

  • Care to explain how it works? And while you’re at it, respond to the critcisms shown here?

    Actually, this reads like a drive-by poster, so I’m not even sure why I’m bothering to respond.

    Whoah, deja vu!

  • Anonymous

    Well i have news for ALL you that “poopoo” ear candling. I had my ear candled for the first time tonight. After having it done, my ear felt SO much better. I have done my kids several times, and it has relieved earaches as well as serverly itchy,ringing ears.
    I will definately do this again. Oh and to those who try to go it alone, and get burnt…… all i have to say is……DUH!!!!! you should have someone help you!!!!!

  • Care to explain to us why it is so great? And while you’re at it, explain how it works? And while you’re at it, respond to the critcisms shown here?

    Actually, this reads like a drive-by poster, so I’m not even sure why I’m bothering to respond.

  • n

    this is all rediculous! ear candling is great, u should be ashamed!

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  • Hi Em,

    Just a note to say I was not referring to people who use these as stupid, rather the candles themselves. In my opinion, the entire concept suits the description stupid, firstly for the-burning-sticks-in-ears part and also that they have been shown time and time again to do more harm than good. So for this, I make no apologies. As to the lady whose house burnt down, well this can happen with any candles certainly, this is just an interesting anecdote to highlight the dangers of candling without proper supervision. I agree she is definitely a candidate for the Darwin Awards!

    You raise an interesting point about your laptop – perhaps you don’t know how it works, but this is something quite different to the placebo effect in medicine. Assuming your laptop is functioning well, it will always open a file or calculate an equation and will get the same answer every time without any need for subjective interpretation. And scientifically this can be demonstrated, repeatedly, (and is every day) by billions of people independently all over the world. There are many comments on here from people saying that ear candling worked for them, yet when they are put to scientific testing in different labs all over the world, they do nothing of what they claims. This is quite a different matter to a laptop.

    Thanks for your comments.

  • Em

    I thought that story about the lady burning her house down added nothing to the story, or to the point. All it proves is that some people are too stupid to read instuctions, or to live… Darwin wins again.
    Another thing I have to say is, those with medical training would of course report all sorts of trouble arising from ear candling – because that’s the only time they would hear about it. All those who do it regularly and are happy with the results don’t need to go to a medical specialist…
    And I just had to laugh at the whole “comparing to placebo” thing… are we really, seriously still there? If someone had NO results, it’s one thing, but when something works for someone, let them have it. I don’t understand how my laptop works, but I’m still using it… because it does what I need it to do.
    To the person writing the article – I understand your frustration, but I wonder if the tone of your article and the use of words like “stupid” is stopping people from listening to your advice. After all, if you were trying to convince me of something, and you did so by calling me dumb and gullible and stupid… I probably would stop listening to you pretty quickly.
    Just a thought. 🙂

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  • keith

    ear candles work great .. im a commercial diver and i use them to help me equalize while im diving. if we have clogged ears it makes our job very difficult .. but these help out so much me and a few of my buddies use them and have no problems at all and feel great.

  • snoozie

    My mother brought some ear candles home. We tried 2 – one in my ear and the other in my son’s ear. I thought the residue looked like ash from the fabric and bee’s wax. I took another candle and burned it, repeating all of the steps. The only difference is that I did not put it in anyone’s ear. I propped it up in a cup, making sure that it remained vertical and undisturbed. When the process was completed, I cut open the candle and found the exact residue that appeared when a candle was put in someone’s ear – simple control test. My mother is disappointed. She wanted to believe in this product. I hated to burst her bubble. I guess I’m just too scientific. If I get the same results without an ear that I get with an ear…well, something is being produced and it isn’t ear wax. I encourage anyone who is still on the fence to simply burn an ear candle with out putting it in someone’s ear. Look at the results. This should prove the point….well, it did for me.

    I do feel bad that I didn’t do this test before sticking this item in my son’s ear (we did only one ear – same for me, one ear – not both). After the process, I looked at his ear with a high power light. His ear canal was covered with a white residue. When lighting the candle, I observed a strong white smoke coming from the pointed end of the ear candle. I realized I had just coated my son’s ear canal with white soot. I feel horrible.

    As you read my entry, you may be thinking, why would this twit experiment on her son (and herself) before running a simple test of the product first? Prior to using the ear candle on my son, I watched 2 internet videos (both included a number of children), my mother was excited about the product and some Amish friends told me that they had used them. My mom really thought ear candles were great. So…I was thinking the ear candle couldn’t do any harm – especially if all of these folks (including people I knew) used them and didn’t seem to suffer any ill effects.

    My mother’s reaction to my little test was interesting. Comparing the ear placed candle (2 samples) to the non-ear placed candle (one sample) and seeing that both results were the same, it made no difference to her. She looked at both results, thought for a minute, then asked me if I wanted to candle my daughter’s ears. I just stood there staring at her and wondering what part of this experiment did she not get? There is no way I’m sticking one of these things in my daughter’s ear.

    The whole time we were messing around with these things, my husband is laughing at us. After I finished my test, he told me that one of our Amish friends told him that ear candling never worked for him and he thought it was a waste of money. I asked my husband why he didn’t say something before we started. He said we were so into what we were doing and he didn’t want to be a wet blanket. He also admitted that he sorta’ hoped the ear candles would work – or at least to something beneficial.

    We learned. We won’t do this again. We will tell other people of our findings and encourage them to burn a candle sans ear and look at the results before sticking one in their ear. I just wish I hadn’t included my son in this experiment. Dumb Dumb Dumb.

  • @breezy

    “….actually do any research first??”

    Did you read the article? As for trying it, because of the research I did and the fact that I value my hearing, the answer is no.

  • breezy

    ear candling is VERY beneficial. i had my mother do it on my ear and i actually can hear BETTER!! it’s very insane the amount of wax that comes out. did any of you people who wrote this article actually do any research first?? or try it? i don’t think so.

  • TB

    Does anyone know if it is illegal in Canada to offer ear candling treatments, as opposed to selling ear candles tot he public? There seem to be a number of places that offer this “therapy”…

  • It’s not illegal to sell them? I guess nobody bothered to inform the body responsible for making these regulations, then?

    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/med/ear-oreille-eng.php

  • ADH

    Actually, Ear Candles are NOT illegal in Canada. Liars.

  • apologies wrong email address, check out more info on safe and effective methods of wax removal in Melbourne, Australia, at http://www.crystalclearclinic.com.au

  • I am a Melbourne specialist ear nurse who uses the same techniques to remove ear wax as the specialist ear hospitals and Drs, – tiny instruments and a gentle suction machine. To generate enough suction to safely remove ear wax I need an electric pump, and have also seen many people with problems after ear candling. Many have a fine pattern of candle wax over the ear drums which then makes their hearing dull.

    Ear wax build up is a very common problem and people dont like the water syringing method of wax removal at the local drs, so they try other methods such as ear candling. Since I opened my business 18 months ago ( a private clinic specialising in ear wax removal with microscope and suction) I’ve been run off my feet. Please dont trust your precious hearing to something as dodgy and dangerous as ear candling.

  • If something working for you is definitive proof that it works, then maybe you could explain why alternative therapies such as ear candles, accupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic etc always achieve level with placebo at best during thorough double-blind testing?

    A placebo after all is something that has no direct causal affect, something that only has a mental affect which means it is nothing other than the persons body and natural defenses causing any change.

    If it actually does work, then it would work better than something specifically designed not to have any affect, surely?

  • jason10

    Most people who have a degree in medicine, whatever degree it may be, feel that different forms of therapies are “shit”, a “waste of time and money”, etc..etc…blah blah blah. The truth of all this is that each person should research all the information, good and bad, and make their own beliefs off that. I will tell you that I have met many Phd’s that beleieve massage therapy is terrible and “doesn’t do a dam thing for the body”, but I personally know that it is a benefit for me and my muscular issues, and my families, and my friends, my co-workers, and so many random people I’ve met over the past 20 years of receiving massages that I don’t believe what a Phd has to say about it. Just because you paid/or are still paying off $150,000 + for your degree doesn’t mean you can close your mind to OTHER POSSIBILITIES/THERAPIES. I have had ear candling and personally love it…it is amazingly relaxing and helps soothe ear aches I’ve had. I would certainly never do it alone, rather I go to someone who knows how to do it. If you haven’t tried it, try it once by someone that knows what they are doing…RESEARCH PLACES.

    For the nay sayers: Good luck in your attempts bannishing E.C. in the land down under.

    For the yay sayers: Keep enjoying it, because I gaurantee it will be around for a very very very very long time like it has been for years and years and years and years

  • Manoji dias

    My Dear Sir,

    I’m Manoji Dias from Sri Lanka.,our company Name is J.M.L.TECHNIC

    We are manufacturing Ear Cone made out of parrifin, cotton cloth and bee wax

    Our cones are 21cm in length with a 3cm diameter at the top of the cone, with a one degree taper. The ear cone is double dipped in bee’s wax.

    We are manufacturing white color ear cones and gray color ear cones we are exporting ear cones for the pharmacies ,if you wish please write to me and we are registered in EBD in Sri Lanka

    This product is famous European countries so each cone is ONLY US$ 0.20

    If you need more information write to me i got your address from the internet

    We are exporting ear cone to italy

    If you wish we can send pictures through the email so pls contact me soon.

    Contact

    Email : JML2007@live.com

    Tel/Fax : 0094-337-200096

  • Nick

    I have practised as a hearing aid audiologist for the last 10 years and I have seen no evidence at all that using ear candles works on any level. In fact I have observed that in 100% of cases they don’t! I spend a considerable amount of time performing otoscopy (that’s looking in peoples ears) and often I need to refer patients for wax removal to fit a hearing aid or perform an accurate hearing test.
    If they go to a doctor, they come back wax free. If they visit a “hopi therapist” they return to me still fully occluded with wax. Every single time!
    Actually it would be unfair to say patients come back in the same condition. Some come back with what appears to be sooty deposits in addition to their wax. On 4 occasions patients have come back to me with serious otitis externa (thats outer ear infections).
    With regards to sinus conditions, the only way the candle smoke could possibly reach the sinuses is by going through the eardrum to the middle ear! If there was any benefit from the smoke to the sinuses(which there obviously isn’t) you would be better putting the candle up your nose.

    The claim that they can aid vertigo is also irresponsible as well as an outright lie. Vertigo is generally an inner ear condition. The inner ear which is by far the most complex part of the auditory system deals with balance as well as actually “hearing” (the outer and middle ear are basically amplifiers). For hopi smoke to benefit the inner ear it must travel through the eardrum,through the middle ear,through the cochlea…..In other words you’d be better off drilling a hole in your head and sticking the candle in that! (please don’t)

    If you are using these candles, find something better to spend your money on.
    If you are selling candles/candle “therapy” then you are deceiving people and should be thoroughly ashamed of youselves.

  • Nathan

    I suffer from sinus issues, in particular chronic build up of wax in my right ear canal. I have been struggling with labyrinthitis on and off for the last year. Look it up if you don’t know what it is, it is horrible. My GP did nothing, then syringed my ears, failing to inform me of the risks involved. The extra fluid in my ear got trapped, and, was a perfect breading ground for bacteria. THAT, was then the next horrible part. I demanded a referral to an ENT. He tried using suction, that also did not work. My sister, an oncologist, suggested ear candles. At last, relief. I don’t claim to explain them, but they offer me the only relief I have found after a GP and a specialist. As for people getting burnt, clearly they are idiots and should not be allowed to even play with matches. Common sense. Get someone to help you, AS IT SAYS ON THE PACKET! And for the skeptics, if you don’t accept any other therapy than the anti-biotics that get over prescribed at the drop of a hat then good luck to you. You clearly shouldn’t get a massage or take a vitamin C tab let when you get a cold. They are obviously in the realm of the ‘crazy’ people. Each to their own.

  • Hi Jo,

    Thanks for your comment. You might also like to show your boss this;

    http://scepticsbook.com/2009/03/14/request-to-pharmacists-to-stop-selling-ear-candles-reaches-the-mainstream-media/

    Here, you will find a link to our open letter to Australian Pharmacists requesting them to stop selling ear candles, since evidence shows they do more harm than good. The letter summarises the evidence succinctly.

    The link below may also interest you, since it contains a response to our letter from Gerard McInerney, president of the Pharmacy Board of NSW.

    Briefly, he stated;

    Pharmacists have worked hard for many years to build trust with their communities, and it would be very sad to see this element damaged.
    Trust is the most important component of any professional practice for without trust you do not have a profession.
    Therefore, we recommend that all practicing pharmacists evaluate what the Skeptics have to say, and if any part of your daily practice needs reviewing, then please take the time to undertake a proper adjustment.

    Full details here.

    Regards,

    Rachael

  • Jo

    I work in an Australian Pharmacy and i had a customer asking about ear candles… we do sell them but i felt it was my moral obligation to tell him they are shit and to go to the doctor if there is a lot of ear wax build up… i think they should be banned in australia too! i think i need to show my boss this post to see if she will re think getting them in

  • jordan29

    Stephan, did you read what I wrote, at all? go back and read again, you missed a couple things.

    Matt, you may not feel its that impressive a result, but my clients enjoy it and not everything is for “everyone” so take that for what its worth. If everything was liked by all then the world would be a little boring. To comment on your suggestion of flushing out the ears with warm water, some clients just dont like doing that.

  • Hi jordan29,

    From your description it sounds like all the candles are doing is warming the earwax up, melting it a little bit and loosening it.

    That’s not that impressive a result, given the risk. If that’s all there is to it then surely there’s a safer way to do it?

    What’s the benefit of ear candles over, say, flushing out the ears with warm water?

  • stephan

    your just upset your product has been proved a scam youll get over it

  • jordan29

    I will start this comment with…. I perform Ear Candling and have for many years. I and my staff have never had any signs of negative effects to our clients such as those listed above. I put this on the extensive education program that has been set forth as well as the professional desire to give every client the best service.

    Ear Candling is beneficial and I have seen this first hand. Many of my clients who fly often, or have had ear wax/cerumen buildup, or have mild sinus problems have seen great gains in this so called “SCAM”. I know it works because I trust the many clients that come back to me for Ear Candling and recommend their friends to try it as well.

    Our protocol consists of 2 candles per Ear as well as Lymphatic Drainage on the neck and face as well as aromatherapy to open up the sinuses. It is one of the most relaxing treatments I have ever had and extremely helpful in loosening dried ear wax.

    An extremely thorough consultation should be done before the service is performed and the goals of the treatment should be addressed. I will never say that it WILL remove ear wax, rather it will aide in the loosening of dried ear wax and over the next few days when cleaning out your ears with Q-tips you should see more ear wax than normal. I do agree that the candle does not pull ear wax into the candle and that part is a hoax and I do not open the candles claiming this. I have tested the candles and the residue is always the same.

    There are many contraindications such as: ear infections, “swimmers ear”, ear surgery, ear tubes, any damage incurred to the ear, fever, flu, severe headaches, and many more. If any of these are found, then I do not perform the treatment and will suggest an ear nose and throat doctor. I never cross that medical line.

    I saw the results from the test done back in 1996, but I have feelings of skepticism there. I would like to see a study done in 2009 concerning Ear Candling and how it is/is not effective. I will admit that there is a lot of bs out there concerning Ear Candling and I have seen all the gimmicks (i.e. hopi candles) and it can be a little much, but if you take the time to learn what you are doing and want to give a quality treatment, it can be done. I think the candles should be taken off the counter because it should only be done by a qualified professional, i.e. a licensed massage therapist. Being able to stick a candle in my ear at home is not smart or safe.
    I know I have not spoke about everything concerning this topic, but am willing to talk more about it.

  • Anonymous

    I use them about once a month, and they work well for me.

  • Rico

    According to science, hydrogen peroxide (H2o2) is common apparatus for ear cleansing. But also suggested not to use H2o2 more than once every week.
    Even this type of treatment has limitation, and so does applied to ear candling. Hence to my comprehention, ear candling is just as good as H2o2. Even i can substitute H2o2 with water, which i can always use when taking a bath.
    But fire that created from ear candle is also a healing element. To ‘burn to the ground’, almost everything, including diseases. All countries infected with bird flu, had common method to eliminate the virus. That is to burn infected birds.
    I am not telling you burning human shall heal humanity itself. But you may want to consider that fire can be healing apparatus.

  • Rachel

    Illegal in Canada??

    I have recently just bought some over here from a health store. I also know of a few spa type places in BC that offer it as a treatment. Are you sure they are banned!!

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  • Jeffrey

    I appreciate that you are sceptical, but I have a similar experience to the last person. I had no biases either way but they work for me. I don’t use them often or claim to understand how they work but they help reduce and prolong sinus build up which is a problem for me.

    But then again I don’t need to understand gravity to know that things fall to the ground. I do know that fire burns and you need to be careful with it. Red wine can help negate some negative health matters but it can contribute to drunkeness and alcoholism.

  • Nancy Hope

    I have used ear candles on 4 or five occasions over the last few years. I always had good results. The yellow wax tasted like earwax, as I accidently found out. Beeswax has no taste. I am bemused by the anti-candling stance, I felt the warmed wax leaving my ear canal and heard the rushing of hot air, I felt the warmth from the heat of the candle in my ear.

    When I first tried it I had no opinion either way, it was just curiosity that led me to try it. I wonder why my experience was so positive and contrary to the anti-candling claims.

  • @TonyD

    Thanks for doing this. Feel free to use the summary above to give to people with a short attention span.

  • Here’s a brief summary of this blog in case you don’t have time, or don’t want to read it all.

    Edzard Ernst, the professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter and co-author of the book Trick or Treatment, published a review article in 2004 in the Journal of Laryngology and Otology entitled: “Ear candles: a triumph of ignorance over science”. He concluded; “Ear candling is one of those CAM modalities that clearly does more harm than good…..it’s mechanism of action is first implausible and second, demonstrably wrong..in my view, therefore, it should be banned (1)”.

    Many scientific studies have been conducted on ear candling, several examining the claim that they remove ear wax. In order to do this, they would need to draw a vacuum. A study by Seely et al., (2) using 2 different brands of ear candles, demonstrated this not to be the case.

    The Seely study also contains a clinical arm, where 122 ear nose and throat specialists were surveyed. The authors reported 21 cases of serious injury caused by ear candling. In 6 of these cases, patients temporarily lost their hearing. Other problems reported among the group included, 13 cases of burns, 7 cases where the wax from the candle had blocked the ear canal and 1 case of a punctured ear drum (2).

    Based on this evidence and studies conducted by their own laboratories, the Canadian authorities have banned ear candles from sale and import into Canada.

    When you look at the evidence, ear candling is dangerous. What part of putting burning sticks in your ears sounds like a good idea to you?

    1. Ernst, E. The journal of Laryngology and Otology (2004): 118; pp 1-2.
    2. Seely DR, Quigley SM, Langman AW. Laryngoscope (1996): Oct;106(10); 1226-9.

  • Tony D

    Help… this morning, on ABC Local radio in Melbourne, John Faine and Red Symonds were talking about ear candeling, and John Faine say ‘Science can’t prove it doesn’t work’…. Aaaaaaarrrrggggg.

    He also osaid it doesn’t do any harm. I’ve emailed a link to this entry to both.

  • naomi

    ear candleing does work though… i dont have built up wax anymore in my ear. and ear flushing hurts

  • Hi Steve,

    Very very good news! This is great to hear. Richard and I often visit pharmacies and proclaim loudly how bad ear candles are, but without much success. Perhaps your method is more subtle and well, effective. I might consider trying it myself.

    We have recently written an open letter to the pharmacies of Australia imploring them to reconsider selling products such as these. It will be published in the March edition of the Skeptic Magazine, but we will likely distribute it further.

    Congrats on making a difference. As to what you should tackle next, how about we all try to get ear candles banned in Australia as they are in Canada?

    Rach

  • Steve

    Our local pharmacy was selling ear candles at the cash register. I wrote to the pharmacist with evidence of their woo-ness. They have been removed. What should I tackle next?

    Steve

  • I agree, Supplementary, Complementary and Alternative Medicine is much more appropriate. That is; SCAM. So Mark Crislip likes to cite at the beginning of every QuackWatch episode. Brilliant.

  • BastardSheep

    One thing (a tad off topic, I know) I’ve always wondered about is why is it usually referred to as “Complimentary and Alternative Medicine”? Surely “Supplementary, Complimentary and Alternative Medecine” makes more sense?

  • Shawn

    I loved this report… I nearly fell over laughing.

    One aspect that intrigued me was the “candalologist” courses. I some research into the government training database, which lists all the courses available for training that are accredited by the australian and state governments. To become accredited the course outcomes and criteria have to be developed, the training organisation has to be audited for capacity to deliver to a determined standard, and money changes hands.

    To my complete lack of surprise there are accredited courses in
    reiki ( eg: http://www.therapeuticarts.edu.au/courses/reiki.htm)
    Naturopathy, homeopathy, ayuervedic ( eg : http://www.aihm.wa.edu.au/).

    The implications of obtaining government accreditation for this woo are quite serious. I reckon it would be worth a detailed look!

    I will look further to see if I can find some accredited ear candling courses.

  • Hi Beth,

    Thanks for the comments! Feel free to use anything from here on your own website if you like, as long as you credit the Skeptic Zone. I am so pleased you are inspired to make your own post. I personally love candles, but would never stick them in my ears!

    Rachael

  • Pingback: Therapeutic Benefits Of Ear Candles()

  • Thanks for debunking this myth that ear candling is a viable method for removing ear wax. I refuse to include ear candle information on my own website about candles. In fact, now I am inspired to make a similar post warning my customers about the dangers of ear candles.

    Beth