If you could improve your sleep and lessen insomnia with millennia-old medicine, would it be a no-brainer for you? Enter ear seeding. Used to treat the above conditions, plus pain management, the practice has given countless women and men help and comfort. Here’s the scoop on ear seeds, how to use them, their cost, and their potential side effects.
Disclaimer: This post on ear seeding is for informational purposes only. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to your physician for additional advice.
What Is Ear Seeding?
I learned about the practice a couple of years ago and have been very curious as to why it’s stuck around as long as it has. Originating in China, the practice is over 3000 years old. Originally, the seeds came from a plant called Vaccaria. The tool is used by acupuncturists and is considered a form of auriculotherapy. This is when the external surface of the ear, or auricle, is stimulated to alleviate pathological conditions in other parts of the body.
So, how exactly do ear seeds work? Using acupressure (which differs from acupuncture, where the skin is broken with super thin needles), they’re placed on specific pressure points on the external ear portion that correlates with internal organs. Many acupuncturists continue to use Vaccaria seeds that are stuck to a small adhesive patch, but stainless steel, ceramic, magnets, and ion pellets can be used as well, as long as the same shape is heeded.
What are the Benefits of Ear Seeds?
There are more than 120 pressure points in and around our ears which are directly linked to our nervous systems. Additionally, traditional Chinese medicine believes 12 primary meridians carry energy through our bodies, so by stimulating them via the ear, we can relieve conditions and complaints. In addition to sleep improvement and insomnia, it has been shown to help with more bodily conditions, including:
- chronic pain
- substance abuse
- weight issues
- gynecological disorders
- digestive disorders
Ear Seeding and Insomnia
A correlation between ear seeding and a reduction in insomnia has been positively shown. While it’s not exactly understood why it works or how it’s managed, believers in the practice feel that, when gently massaged, endorphins are released. A study in 2015 did show that by using the ear seeding method, the participants slept longer, had fewer awakenings during the night, and fell asleep faster than before.
How to Apply Ear Seeds
As with any medicine or medicinal practice, it’s always a good idea to talk to an acupuncturist or physician about the proper method of using ear seeds before trying them yourself. First, you’ll want to make sure that it’s safe for you. Second, you can get proper instructions on exactly where to place them. You’ll want a good pair of tweezers to pull the seed and its teeny patch off of its backing for more precise placement. Each ear seed application is generally three to five seeds at a time. Using more may interfere with the pressure points that are to be stimulated. It’s best if you have someone else apply them, so the seeds don’t end up falling off and landing in your ear canal.
You’ll want to leave them on for no more than five days at a time to avoid skin irritation. And don’t just leave them and let them be, either. A gentle rub on each one up to five times a day will cause the pressure points in your ears to be stimulated. Also, both ears may be treated at the same time, but using only one ear per session tends to be the best practice.
There are some potentially negative side effects of ear seeding:
- Losing a seed in your ear canal: As stated above, the seeds are stuck to the adhesive patches, but they have been known to come off. If the seed can’t be removed safely, you’ll need to see a doctor to have it removed.
- Allergic Reaction: This can occur if you’re allergic to any of the ingredients in the seed itself or the patch
- Ear tenderness: Caused by rubbing the seed against your ear too roughly
- Dizziness & Nausea: If, by accident, the wrong part of your ear gets stimulated by improper seed placement, you could end up feeling it in your stomach and feeling woozy
- Premature labor: If a specific point on the ear is stimulated, pregnant women could end up going into labor. Pack this tip away for the ladies in your life who are of childbearing age.