Interesting, no? To learn more, we consulted cosmetic acupuncturist, and founder of The Bradden Method, Sarah Bradden.
What are ear seeds?
They might look like little piercings but ear seeds are mighty miracles that help alleviate a variety of everyday stresses including migraines, lack of sleep, anxiety, period pains, even hangovers. Non-invasive, they sit comfortably on the surface of the ear via tape,and work by providing continuous acupressure to certain points to release tension while helping the body recalibrate and return to a natural flow.
The benefits are huge and I use them for a variety of reasons – most commonly to calm the mind, reduce stress, stimulate pain relief, alleviate apprehension, fear and anxiety, and to regulate the sympathetic nervous system which eases the body’s response to stressful situations.
How do they work?
Based upon the general principles of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, your health depends upon the flow of Qi energy moving freely throughout your body via meridian energy lines that mirror each other, head to toe, ensuring your system remains balanced, and properly functions.
Stress, illness and poor lifestyle habits block and weaken your meridian lines resulting in worsening symptoms and pain, so by keeping healthy Qi flowing freely at all times, your organs work in harmony and your body remains healthy. When meridian lines are blocked, we focus on specific pressure points to release the tension, helping the body unblock, recalibrate and return to a natural flow.
Put simply, ear seeds work by providing a continuous mild pressure to the points that need attention, and can be used to amplify the pressure by gently pressing or massaging for a few seconds to instantly alleviate symptoms. Because they sit comfortably on the surface of the ear, they provide a really accessible and safe ‘self-care’ option.
One of my favourite points to stimulate with ear seeds is the Shen Men which is located at the top of the ear making it really easy to access. It’s a great point to stimulate whenever you feel stressed or overwhelmed as it has an instantly calming and soothing effect.
How do you apply ear seeds?
If you’ve never used ear seeds before, always visit a qualified acupuncturist to ensure you understand what areas of the ear makes sense to you. Remember the seeds are used to alleviate specific symptoms so it’s really important you don’t self-diagnose and instead get expert advice – at least until you’re confident with exactly where to position. To make this easier for you to grasp, ask your acupuncturist to mark on an ear map where to apply the seeds.
Once you’re confident, I always recommend that you apply as follows:
- Clean and dry the outside of your ear. Ear seeds should always sit on the outside of the ear – never in the ear canal.
- Identify and locate the correct point and use your fingers or tweezers to apply the seed.
- Once in position, press down on the seed firmly using your thumb and forefinger to ensure the ear seed is fixed and doesn’t move.
- Twice or three times a day gently massage each seed, or more frequently if your symptoms cause discomfort. I recommend rubbing the seeds using a circular motion for one to three minutes which helps to apply ample pressure.
- Ear seeds tend to fall off after three to five days however you must change them regularly, and don’t use for more than five days in a row. If they show no signs of moving, use tweezers or your fingernails to gently prise off.
How long does it take for the ear seeds to take effect?
As with all therapies, it really depends upon each individual. In most cases, ear seeds work immediately, especially if the symptoms are mild. However, certain symptoms may take a few weeks to subside, or require complementary therapies to support the healing process. A good acupuncturist will always listen to your body and use auriculotherapy alongside a combination of treatments to transform the way you feel both physically and emotionally. Ear seeds are not a quick fix.
Are there any downsides?
Whenever I’m treating clients, I’m aware that certain points will be more sensitive than others, depending on what the symptom is. Sometimes, the seed will make the ear feel sore, tender and sensitive to touch. However, don’t worry as this is normal. I always suggest that if the discomfort persists to remove the seed or seeds and re-apply later on.
On very rare occasions, some clients who are extremely sensitive might experience slight nausea or dizziness; however, this often disappears within the first few minutes after application.
While most ear seeds are produced using ripe seeds from the vaccaria plant, and surgical tape to fix, other materials are also used including ion pellets, magnets, stainless steel, titanium, and ceramic. If you have allergies to latex, bandages or tape, make sure to ask your acupuncturist to use ear seeds with a backing that’s 100% safe for you. In addition, I always advise people who are pregnant to consult with their doctor ahead of any therapy no matter how non-invasive it appears.
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