If you’re reading about ear seeds for the first time, it might sound like the latest craze in alternative health. But these tiny seeds have actually been around for centuries! The practice that uses small seeds to stimulate pressure points on the ear is called “auriculotherapy.” While this practice focuses on different pressure points than those used in acupuncture or other forms of acupressure, the same basic principles apply.
The Principles of Acupressure
Both acupuncture and acupressure involve applying pressure to an acupoint to send a signal for the body to turn on the mechanisms it uses to heal itself. An acupuncturist uses a very fine needle to apply the pressure. An acupressure practitioner might use their hands, elbows, or something else to apply pressure.
Acupressure focuses on the belief that qi, the body’s energy, circulates through natural pathways called meridians. Blockage of the pathways or an imbalance of the types of energy (Yin and Yang) lead to illness and pain. The purpose of acupressure is to correct imbalances and restore the body’s energy flow.
Meridians occur throughout the body, although they do not enter the ears. Placing ear seeds on the ear has a similar effect as placing pressure along the body’s meridian lines. The exact location of the seeds depends on your reason for using them.
What Are the “Seeds” in Ear Seeds?
The seeds used in ear seeds come from the vaccaria plant. The plant grows in China and some areas of Europe. Other names include cos soapwort or cowherb. The plant grows to between 2 and 2-1/2 feet tall with pink and white flowers that growers harvest during the summer. The seeds are then dried, removed from an outer shell, and dried again.
Vaccaria seeds have a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine. For centuries, vaccaria was used to treat conditions associated with the liver and stomach meridians. The seeds’ properties made them effective at invigorating the blood and promoting lactation. As medicinal practices evolved, practitioners and acupuncturists started using the seeds to treat other areas of the body. Some people use them on their own while others use them in-between acupuncture treatment sessions. Sometimes people use them along with their acupuncture treatment to intensify their results.
Vaccaria seeds aren’t the only thing used as ear seeds. Today, you can also buy metal pellets and Swarovski crystal seeds. Metal pellets are usually smaller and use clear tape to make them less conspicuous. Those made with Swarovski crystals are great for when you want to look a little dressier. Any material works but only the vaccaria seeds have the powerful properties that invigorate the blood. The real seeds are paired with tan tape.
Why Do People Use Them?
Ear seeds help with a long list of illnesses and conditions. The top 3 reasons people get ear seeds are for pain, obesity, and anxiety & stress. But the list of benefits doesn’t stop there. Some other reasons for using them are:
- Skin Conditions Including Acne
- Migraines and Other Types of Headaches
- Stop Smoking
- Symptoms of Menopause
Another benefit of ear seeds treatment is the cost. Enough seeds to provide 4 to 6 weeks of benefits costs less than $20. In contrast, an acupuncture practitioner charges between $40 and $300 per treatment. Since you wear the seeds for up to five days at a time with as little as one day in-between a new application, the benefits are continuous. That’s why so many people are using them in-between acupuncture treatments to extend the positive effects. Supplementing your acupuncture treatment with ear seeds is a cost-effective way to boost your therapeutic results.
Who Uses Ear Seeds?
Anyone can benefit from ear seeds including kids, adults, and celebrities. Some high-end spas offer them and advertisements appear in newspapers, on TV, and magazines. The numerous conditions they treat and the real results they offer make them a far-reaching solution for what ails many Americans. Unlike other types of treatment, almost anyone can afford them and there is almost no risk of side effects.
Acupuncture and ear seeds are two forms of treatment. Since the seeds don’t involve needles, they have a lower risk of causing bleeding and infection. That doesn’t mean they are always pain-free! Even when wearing your ear seeds is painful, they’re doing their job. In fact, the harder they work, the more they may hurt. The pain from the seeds will diminish as your condition improves.
Are There Any Potential Side Effects?
People who are allergic to latex should avoid the tan colored tape used with the vaccaria ear seeds. The adhesive used in most of these contains latex. Although side effects from the seeds are rare, some people do experience dizziness, nausea, and drowsiness. It’s best to avoid driving when using them for the first time. Give yourself some time to find out how you respond.
If you are or might be pregnant, don’t use ear seeds or any other form of auriculotherapy without consulting your physician. Applying auriculotherapy to some acupoints can induce early labor. It’s always a good idea to discuss starting any new treatment with your healthcare provider.
Using Ear Seeds for Lower Back Pain
Chronic low back pain is the second most common cause of disability behind arthritis in this country, and it’s on the rise. More than 80% of all adults will experience low back pain during their lifetime. Most cases are due to injuries such as strains or sprains from heavy lifting. Medical conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, and some degenerative disorders of the spine can also cause the condition.
Your risk of developing low back pain increases as you grow older. This is due to the deterioration of the discs that cushion the vertebrae. Chronic low back pain is a condition where symptoms last for more than three months.
Your doctor might initially recommend rest at home and over-the-counter NSAIDs like Tylenol or Motrin for pain. If your symptoms persist, the doctor will prescribe more aggressive treatment like prescriptions drugs or, in severe cases, surgery. Prescription drugs often used to treat chronic low back pain include prescription-strength NSAIDs, muscle relaxers, steroid injections, and/or narcotics.
Research shows that ear seeds provide effective relief in people suffering from chronic low back pain. They also help improve mobility. What research doesn’t show is the degree of effectiveness on a person-to-person basis. This is due largely to the difference in pain thresholds among individuals. The same level of pain that is intolerable to one person might be moderate to another.
Using Ear Seeds for Obesity
If you’ve tried every fad diet and dietary supplement for weight loss without success, you aren’t alone! In some cases, as soon as a new weight loss supplement hits the market, it gets recalled because of its negative impact on the user’s health.
Ear seeds have several benefits over other weight loss plans. For one thing, they really work. For another, they don’t have the same kinds of risk to your health that many weight loss ingredients or deprived eating plans have.
Experts tell us all the time that the secret to successful weight loss is eating less and moving more. But while this system sounds simple enough, it is difficult when applied to real life. Once hunger and cravings kick in, most people fail to stick with their eating plan.
Ear seeds can help by reducing your appetite, so you don’t give in to food cravings. Using ear seeds for weight loss works in much the same way as it does to help smokers and drug addicts kick the habit. The ear seeds also help balance natural hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain. This results in the release of endorphins that reduce stress and help curb cravings.
To obtain the best results, you should develop a reasonable weight-loss plan and include at least fifteen minutes of exercise each day. The more you do to help you lose weight, the better your results will be. The ear seeds just help you control your cravings so that you can stick with your weight loss plan.
Using Ear Seeds for Anxiety and Stress
Applying ear seeds to the correct acupoint causes the release of endorphins. These are the hormones responsible for making you feel good. Using ear seeds for anxiety and stress results in a calming, relaxing effect that reduces your stress and anxiety levels.
How to Apply Ear Seeds
If you go to a certified EarSeeds practitioner, they can show you the correct placement for your condition. Our seed kits let you use them at home as a DIY kit. You purchase the kit for your condition and follow the enclosed point chart. Always follow the directions closely for safe and accurate application of the seeds.
- Clean and Dry the Outside of Your Ear
Ear seeds always go on the outside of your ear, never on the inside. The seeds come with pre-attached adhesive. Cleaning the skin prior to application helps the adhesive attach securely.
- Identify the Correct Point for Application
Either identify the correct points from the included point chart or have a practitioner advise you the first time you apply them. You want to get as close to the designated point as possible. However, the point shown in the point chart depicts the general area. For areas where there is sensitivity, you can apply more than one ear seed close together.
- Apply the Ear Seed to Your Ear
Use the enclosed tweezers to carefully apply the seed to the correct point. Once in place, press gently to help it stick. Apply carefully so that the seed is in the right place on the first try. You can’t stick it to the skin repeatedly or the adhesive won’t work.
- Massage the Ear Seeds
Apply gentle pressure to the seeds and rub them in a circular motion for two or three minutes. Repeat two or three times daily or whenever your symptoms appear.
- Change As Needed
Ear seeds need to be changed regularly and often fall off spontaneously after a few days. If they are still intact after five days, change them anyway. All ear seeds including those made from Swarovski crystals are disposable. You should never try to reuse them.
- Remove Them
Tilt your head to the side so that the ear seeds don’t fall into your ear canal. Either use the tweezers or your fingers to loosen them. Give your skin a rest between applications. Wait at least eight hours or up to a day before replacing with new seeds.
Most of the ear seed kits come with 120 seeds – enough for four to six weeks of use. While wearing the seeds, check the skin on your ears daily for signs of irritation. It any area appears red, swollen, sore, or tender, remove the seeds immediately.
When Will I See Results?
The results from wearing ear seeds vary greatly from one person to the next. Some people feel an improvement almost immediately. Others take weeks before the improvement is noticeable. If you develop small sores around the seeds, it’s probably from massaging too frequently. Failing to rest your skin between applications can also result in irritation.
Why You Should Try Ear Seeds
Like any alternative treatment, ear seeds provide drug-free relief. Medications like pain killers cause many side effects and even lead to addiction. Ear seeds provide proven results without the dangerous side effects of medications.
Most adults experience at least occasional aches and pains that vary in severity. Those who live with chronic pain know the limitations it causes and the impact on their quality of life. Ear seeds provide a simple alternative to traditional medicine that doesn’t interfere with other medical treatments. It’s also a versatile treatment that works for a broad range of illnesses and conditions depending on the placement of the seeds.
Ear seeds are considered a standalone treatment for chronic pain, obesity, or any other condition. Like acupuncture, they may also work as a complementary treatment to enhance your results. Ear Seeds offers a range of condition-specific kits complete with a point chart, tweezers, and instructions for use. Contact us with any questions about our Vaccaria seed or Swarovski Crystal ear seed kits.