Georgia Devey Smith for Harper’s Bazaar
When it comes to setting wellness standards, Gwyneth Paltrow is out there. Generally, we can take her vagina candles and vampire repellent sprays with a pinch of salt, but when she offered the relatively sedate ear seeds at her Goop wellness summit, we were intrigued.
Far from being a new wellbeing trend, ear seeding (also known as auriculotherapy) originated from Traditional Chinese Medicine practices over 3000 years ago, eventually coming to the west in 1957 offering a host of health and wellness benefits. From stress relief to detoxing, it wasn’t long before we saw these tiny dots crop up on the catwalk in the ears of Naomi and Kate, and they’ve grown in popularity ever since.
Here, we ask the experts how affective ear seeding is and if it really helps balance our bodies.
What are ear seeds?
While the idea of putting seeds in your ear can send shivers down your spine, Ada Ooi, TCM practitioner and founder of 001 Skincare reassures us that they’ve come a long way since their rural origins. “Ear seeds are small seeds that are placed on your ear on various acupressure points to serve as tiny acupressure devices,” she says. “Traditionally they came from the vaccaria herb, also known as the ‘cowherb’ which grows in China and central and Southern parts of Europe. The plant is harvested in the summer, then dried in the sun, after which the seeds are removed from their shells. In TCM, vaccaria seeds have bitter and neutral properties, and are associated with the liver and stomach meridians (paths through which the life-energy known as ‘qi’ flows), with their main function being to invigorate the blood.”
In true modern day form, ear seeds are now typically made from ceramics, silver, gold, or if you’re in the celebrity realm, crystals and diamonds.
How do they work?
Although pressure points have long been used in acupuncture and sports massage alike to alleviate pain and tension, there’s an untapped microsystem in the ear that consists of over 200 points waiting to be stimulated. “They’re a type of auriculotherapy and the World Health Organisation has recognised 39 of these points for relieving pain, calming the mind and aiding certain symptoms,” Ooi says.
Much like reflexology’s affiliation with the foot, according to TCM, our entire organ system is mapped out on the ear. But thanks to modern lifestyles, our internal energy field can find itself quickly out of whack. “We use these points with the same principle as body acupuncture treatment,” explains Ben Hymas, founder of Acupuncture Wellness. “Due to external or internal influences (stress, diet, trauma etc), the Qi in our bodies can become stagnant or deficient affecting the organ related to the meridian. This can then cause excess symptoms such as pain, migraines, anxiety/depression or menstrual imbalances. By manipulating the flow of Qi on a meridian through acupuncture and ear seeding, stagnant Qi can be dispersed. As a result, the symptoms that correspond to these underlying energetic imbalances should naturally re-balance and improve after a single treatment or, depending on severity, several sessions. As an example for stress and anxiety we may needle a point on the heart channel near the wrist to re-balance the energy – with ear seeds we could use one on the heart point ‘Shen Men’ to achieve the same effect.”
For the needle-phobics among us, ear seeding is a great (and painless) alternative to reap the rewards of acupuncture without the anxiety. “Also, because the ear seeds are left attached for up to a week, the effects of treatment can last longer or even be used for the time between weekly acupuncture treatments,” Hymas says.
What are the benefits?
How long have you got? The benefits of ear seeding are bountiful to say the least and with little to no side effects, they’re a low maintenance way to get your wellness fix. “There are so many amazing benefits to ear seeding,” Ooi begins. “They can boost immunity, balance hormones, detox, alleviate neck, back and shoulder pain, improve insomnia, anxiety, digestion and focus, the list goes on. A lot of research has also shown that certain points on the ears share similar brain waves when one is relaxed as it works through the nervous system and meridians to help with chronic pain, migraines, stress, mental health management and even substance abuse.”
While a click to Dr Google is often condemned by health experts, ear seeding is the exception: “It’s always best to see a practitioner first for a full work-up consultation but due to the simplicity and small size of the ear, you can Google the ear map and apply seeds yourself to help aid ailments through self-diagnosis,” Hymas tells us. *Opens Chrome immediately.
Anything else we need to know?
Like most medical and wellness treatments there’s a certain level of small print to cover. While ear seeding is low risk with maximum results, Hymas warns that people with poor blood clotting and myocarditis, or those in the early stages of pregnancy should steer clear. To prep and achieve the best outcome he recommends avoiding caffeine and alcohol before and after treatment, getting a good night’s sleep post-ear seeding and placing the seeds when you’re sitting or lying down if performing yourself.
Level up your at-home wellness routine with these simple ear seed kits
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io