Ear seeds have been used for a long time in traditional Chinese medicine and fall under acupuncture. These are small lozenges the size of mustard seeds that apply continuous pressure to specific points in the ear to stimulate various mental or physical effects. While not all ear seeds are the same, they are usually pre-attached to sticky paper for easy application. The metals or materials they are made of can also vary from actual plant seeds to 24K plated magnets (like the ones I received). And just like acupuncture, the healing benefits you want from it determine the exact placement: there is a place for the upper back, liver, kidneys, neck, etc. And the points or the combination of them can also address different behaviors: anxiety, insomnia, smoking cessation or just everyday stress.
Most TCM experts will recommend that you see an acupuncturist for placement, at least for the first few times, as it is a very precise art. But, if you feel confident, you can do it yourself too. A quick Google search will show you plenty of at-home kits and tutorials, including Life Healing’s own set (which you can get here for $ 34).
Fast forward to my date. “So what we’re about to do is place these little seeds on pressure points in your ear that send signals to the reflex centers in the brain to relax your nervous system,” she says. “You have four main interventions in your ear, and they send signals directly to the brain. The distance is so close it happens almost instantly.”
She explains to me that her specific seeds are 24k gold-plated magnets, which she says improves circulation. “Because they’re magnets, you get that micro-stimulation over that five-day period,” she tells me. “You don’t need to handle them, you can if you like to play with them, but you don’t have to.” Most seeds require you to apply pressure throughout the day – or when you need it – to achieve the desired effect.
From there, she cleans my left ear with a sterilizing wipe to remove natural oils, which can inhibit the adhesive paper. And then she picks up the seeds – one at a time – and places them on five pin points on the ear. As she does so, she recounts the various points starting with the shen men, said to be on the ground and calm, putting me in a “state of receptivity”. Then there is the zero point to balance the body. The heart point regulates blood flow and is said to balance emotions. The brain point is believed to regulate the chemistry of our brain. And it ends with the endocrine point, known as our hormone regulator. In all? It doesn’t take more than a minute (although she’s an expert so it might take a bit longer if you do it on your own). She tells me that in five days I should take them off, because the gold is oxidizing.
I feel them pretty quickly. To begin with, you feel pressure on the ear. They looked so small that I previously thought there would be nothing, but you can tell there is something there. I imagine it like a few hours after having my ears pierced. The pain is eased, but you still get the warmth and the feeling of something new. (Note: this sensation doesn’t really go away. You always feel like you have something in your ear, especially when lying on a pillow or putting on headphones. It’s not painful or deeply. uncomfortable, but it’s there.)
In the days to come, I also get occasional compliments on the aesthetics. I mean, I have to point them out to people first – they’re so small – but once they get someone’s attention, they look really cool. Small, low-stake piercings. I know that’s not why you should buy them, but when does something look fancy with some wellness benefits? Yes please!
For the rest: the sensation of the whole body also fades quite quickly. It was like having half a glass of wine or a CBD supplement: you’re fully there and present, but maybe your shoulders have relaxed a bit or you’ve released some of the tension that you didn’t know. not that you hold back. There’s some truth to this: Research shows that atrial therapy (the fancy name for ear seeds) is effective in relieving anxiety, as well as relieving symptoms of jaw tension. Shout out to those of us with tension on our face and scalp!
It went on all day and until the next day (I did it on a Friday morning). At work, the day went by and I was able to be productive, without having to deal with racing thoughts (but it could also have been just because it was Friday, and Fridays have some sort of energy in themselves). At home the next day, I was able to tackle a huge organizational project, which is just a generous way of saying that my apartment needed to be decluttering and refurbished. Well, you know this place right in the middle of revamping your home – when things get even more complicated and you’re worried that you’ll never put anything back on again – this place didn’t seem so intimidating. As Sunday rolled around, however, my new cold attitude didn’t spare me Sunday fears, that peak of anxiety you feel before the start of the new week. I’m pretty confident that nothing can temper them. On Monday and Tuesday, the feeling had more or less eased: Saily’s stressors had stressed me again. But whenever I really needed a moment’s break, I was pushing it. Even though Dan said they would do the job for me, manipulating them manually gave an extra boost in the same way you feel relaxed when you pinch an acupressure point at noon.
“As much as I am tempted to believe because of the amazing results I have seen, acupuncture is not magic,” Dan Hsu, DOAM, LAc tells us. “In reality, it is a form of therapy and should be viewed as such. As with any therapy, such as physical therapy or psychotherapy, there is always a treatment plan.” Translation: A one-time date in a modality is not going to cure you of all less than ideal feelings.
At the end of the day Tuesday — Day 5 — I took them out as directed. On two of the points, he left small red dots (after reading, it is due to friction and it is normal). Not sure if I would do it regularly, but I will definitely do it again.