Are Ear Seeds The Ultimate Holistic Health Boost?

If you’re open to the benefits of treatments like acupuncture, then ear seeding might be something worth investigating. Popular in LA, it claims to heal countless modern ailments, including insomnia, painful periods, migraines and anxiety. Part of the reflexology family, it’s works to stimulate different points of the ear to achieve optimal energy flow. From how ear seeds work to top tips for getting started, here’s what you need to know…

What is ear seeding?

Also referred to as ear reflexology or auriculotherapy, the practice of ear seeding originates in traditional Chinese medicine. It involves taping tiny metal balls to certain pressure points on your ear, which then send signals to the reflex centres of the brain in order to stabilise and regulate the nervous system. Stimulating these points is believed to help energy flow smoothly through our organs, and strengthen and nourish our bodies’ systems. 

How exactly does it work?

“To understand how auricular acupuncture works from a western viewpoint, we have to imagine the outer ear like a switchboard to the brain,” explains acupuncturist Siwan Quinn Bratton, who’s also the co-principal of the College of Auricular Acupuncture in the UK. “There are over 200 acupuncture points on each ear. Points relating to our head, teeth and face are located on the ear lobe, while internal organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, stomach and intestines are positioned in the deep ‘well’ or conchae region of the ear. Each acupuncture point being treated triggers electrical impulses that travel from the ear via the brain and neural pathways, to the specific part of the body it relates to,” he says. While this may seem far-fetched, Siwan also told us functional MRI shows ear seeding releases endorphins (natural pain-relieving chemicals), blocks pain receptors and elevates levels of adenosine, which affects a change in the targeted area.

So science shows it works?

Yes, there’s more to this ancient treatment than you may think. Auriculotherapy may have its origins in Chinese medicine, but acupuncturist Renata Nunes told us it was recognised as a treatment by the World Health Organization in 1990. Renata also references French physician Dr Paul Nogier, who is often referred to as the modern founder of ear seeding. In 1951, he began experimenting with ear acupuncture on patients with sciatica and soon discovered every point on the ear corresponds to a part on the body. 

What are the benefits of ear seeds?

Like acupuncture and reflexology, there are countless benefits to using ear seeds. Mona Dan is an LA-based herbalist, acupuncturist and founder of Vie Healing, which recently started selling 24k gold ear seeds via Cult Beauty. She explains: “Ear seeds can ease a wide range of ailments including PMS, migraines, headaches, jet lag, digestive problems, insomnia and so much more. When the nervous system is able to relax, proper blood flow will assist in all these issues.” Renata is a strong advocate for using ear seeds for stress and anxiety, and also says they can help with depression as well as alongside fertility treatments. “Auriculotherapy also has good results in digestive disorders, balancing the better functioning of the stomach and spleen energy. It can even help in the treatment for nicotine addiction and weight loss by reducing anxiety.” 

Who are they best suited to?

Given their wide-ranging benefits, ear seeds are worth a try, especially if you’re burning the candle at both ends. “Patients with high-stress levels, anxiety and depression tend to experience more chronic pain than an emotionally healthy person. Auriculotherapy can help relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression, and consequently decrease the pain,” Renata says. However, steer clear if you’re pregnant or allergic to metals, Renata advises. 

How quickly can you see results?

“Seeds have a slower effect than using needles,” Renata says, so expect something subtler than body acupuncture and reflexology. “It’s common for there to be greater sensitivity on the first day of using the ear seed. On the second day, the sensitivity will be reduced and the effect will be greater. It is recommended that the seeds remain in place for three to five days, and that the patient presses gently on the seeds three times a day to stimulate the pressure points.” 

Can you do it at home?

Absolutely, but the experts recommend having a diagnosis from a fully insured, degree-level acupuncturist before you do it yourself. Your therapist will take a detailed medical history, covering everything from your sleep to diet and menstrual cycle, and then be able to tailor a treatment plan specific to your needs. Your therapist will show you where the most effective acupuncture points are on your own ears and how to apply the seeds. “It’s also important the ear is sterilised and that application is done with a pair of tweezers,” Renata says. “Also be careful when wetting your ears to make sure the seeds don’t change position. Your seeds will then naturally fall out over three to five days, after which time you’ll definitely feel the benefits.”

Where can you find an expert?

Check out the British Acupuncture Council’s list here. If you live in London, Renata Nunes, John Tsagaris, Ki People and The Hale Clinic all come highly recommended. 


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*Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programmes.

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