Acupuncture is quite common, with people turning to it for pain, anxiety, and even fertility. Although the list of benefits is long, it can be time consuming and expensive, which is why when I first heard about auricular acupuncture, which you can do yourself at home, it piqued my interest.
Amazon reviews for a product that one of my Well + Good colleagues found retailing for around $19 were mixed; 63% of reviewers gave the product five stars, but 15% gave it only one. I couldn’t tell from the reviews alone if this was something legit or not, so I decided to ask a few licensed acupuncturists what they thought, including what the ear seeds are actually for .
What exactly are ear seeds?
Depending on the type you buy, ear seeds are made of metal or vaccaria seeds, which come from the vaccaria plant and are popular in traditional Chinese medicine. The metal or seeds are put on tape, which you can then place over your ears, applying pressure by rubbing them in a circular motion for a few minutes; you can do all of this at home and you don’t need an acupuncturist to do it.
“Auricular acupuncture seeds are different from traditional acupuncture needles called acune needles. These seeds are used as a complementary approach and are rooted in the same belief system as traditional acupuncture,” acupuncturist Ani Baran, LAc , of New Jersey Acupuncture Center Explain. “Essentially, these are small seeds with an adhesive backing that are applied along the ear and work with the pressure points found in your ears. This method of treatment is also called auriculotherapy which results in auricular therapy – l acupressure or acupuncture that focuses on the ears.
Acupuncturist Kate Reil, LAc, MS, who works at Yinova Center (who has a third location opened this month) adds that for the unfavorable needle, they can be a great way to experience the benefits of acupuncture. “Ear seeds work by applying gentle pressure to the acupuncture points in the ear, as they don’t puncture the skin like acupuncture treatment using needles,” she says, adding that they are perfectly safe to make at home on your own. “You have more freedom than you think when wearing ear seeds. You can shower with it, exercise, sleep with it, talk on the phone, and generally live your life as you normally do!” She adds that the ear seeds will fall off naturally over a three to five day period, but you can also remove them whenever you want, using tweezers.
Although she thinks it’s best to consult a trained professional in all things acupuncture, because part of what makes it so effective is being able to clear your mind in a relaxing environment, Baran is not not against people trying them at home. “[It’s safe] because it’s non-invasive, as long as they know the process and clean their ears thoroughly,” she says. Nevertheless, it is best to consult a qualified professional on your own.
What are ear seeds used for?
Now that I knew they were safe, I was curious to know what exactly they were used to. “For everything!” Reil said enthusiastically. She explains to me that the ears are essentially a home for acupressure points, so whatever your specific reasons for seeing an acupuncturist, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with needles in your ears. “Auricular acupuncture can be an adjunct to whole-body acupuncture or as a treatment on its own,” Reil tells me.
Although some claim that ear seeds can work as part of a treatment plan for stress or other ailments, it is always best to work with medical experts to fully address the issue, especially when it arises. is to identify the exact reasons for what you are experiencing. . “They are great for times when you could use a little self-care, however, if you are looking to address a lingering problem or illness, I recommend seeking out a licensed practitioner as they can be a resource for ongoing support. says Reil. “They will be able to identify the root causes of your symptoms, consider your internal landscape when prescribing herbal formulas, and offer advice on diet and mode. of life if necessary.”
Mistakes People Make With Ear Seeds
A common mistake Baran says people make with ear seeds is putting them inside the ear canal, which she says is a big no-no. “They should be placed along the out ear,” she says, adding that improper placement can lead to discomfort, redness, swelling, and the ear seeds just don’t work effectively. She also adds that if you don’t massage Gently ear seeds in place for a few minutes, they might not work as well. For best results, gently rub each one for three to five minutes while you apply them.
Besides sticking the ear seeds literally in your ear, the two experts say there’s little risk in trying them at home. At best, they will bring a little more balance to your body and mind. Or, you might not notice much difference and you’ll lose $20. But sometimes taking a moment to prioritize yourself with a little ear massage is a win in itself.
Speaking of self-care rituals, here’s how to create a routine you’ll actually stick to. And here’s how to use traditional Chinese medicine to treat acne.