Do Ear Seeds Really Work? And How?
Ear seeds are one of the hottest natural health trends, having been covered by numerous media outlets, magazines, blogs, and TV shows like Dr. Oz, The Doctors, and Good Morning America.
Ear Seeds: A Brief History
This ancient practice of auriculotherapy originated in India and has been used throughout east Asia for thousands of years. It involves stimulating specific points on the ear to treat issues like anxiety, stress, pain, fertility, libido, and weight loss. It is gaining more and more popularity due to its effectiveness in treating various health conditions.
The father of auriculotherapy, Dr. Paul Nogier, discovered the ear was a microsystem of the body in the 1950s. The microsystem is represented by the "upside down baby" in the ear (see photo below).
He found that specific points on the ear correspond to different parts of the body. By stimulating these points with acupuncture, burning/scarring, acupressure, electro-stimulation, or phototherapy, practitioners could treat a variety of physical and emotional conditions. But, there's an easier way for most people-- ear seeds.
What Are Ear Seeds?
Ear seeds are small, round seeds made from natural materials like the vaccaria plant or 24k gold, stainless steel or silver pellets that are that are placed on specific points on the ear with a medical adhesive tape.
Some ear seeds come with Swarovski® crystal embellishment making for stylish ear acupressure jewelry.
The pressure from the seed on the ear point helps to stimulate the numerous nerve branches on the ear connecting directly the the brain.
The brain, in turn, sends messages of homeostasis or balance to the corresponding area of the body. Ear seeds are non-invasive and virtually painless, making them an ideal option for those seeking natural treatments.
How Are Ear Seeds Applied?
Practitioners trained in auriculotherapy will examine your ear, probe the ear for markings and tenderness and then determine the specific points that need to be stimulated.
Then, they will place the seeds on these points and secure them with a medical adhesive tape. The seeds can be left on for a three to five days, and the pressure from the seed will continue to stimulate the acupressure point.
Alternately, ear seed kits are available that provide charts and diagrams that make it easy to find the points yourself and apply the ear seeds for various conditions anytime. The Thrive Ear Seed Kit (shown below) contains charts for 23 conditions along with 24K gold and Diamond Crystal ear seeds, making it a popular choice for ear seeders.
Celebrities & the Media Take Notice of Ear Seeds
Ear seeds are trending on social media with the help of wellness influencers like Kendall Jenner, Gwyneth Paltrow, and regular people sharing the benefits of ear seeds.
Kendall Jenner says, "I love anything that lets me care for myself holistically, and these ear seeds have so many benefits. I also like that they're silver and kinda look like a stud earring on."
According to In Style Magazine, "Ear seeds are affordable, quick, easy & trendy." Ear Seeds have been featured in numerous magazines and the #1 choice for wellness enthusiasts to manage pain and other health conditions.
Research Studies on Ear Seeds
There's a growing body of research on ear seeds, but since they're a non-pharmacological intervention securing research for a natural alternative that doesn't involve high priced medical interventions is difficult.
Research studies have found that ear seeds can be an effective treatment for anxiety. In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers found that patients who received ear seeds had a significant reduction in anxiety levels. Additionally, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies found that ear seeds were effective in reducing nail-biting behavior.
Ear seeds have also been found to be effective in treating high blood pressure. In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, researchers found that ear seed therapy was effective in reducing blood pressure levels in patients with hypertension.
Top Conditions Treated with Ear Seeds
So what can you use ear seeds for? Just about everything! Since stress is a contributing factor for 80% of chronic illness ear seeds can be a first line option for reducing stress as well as helping with:
- Back and Neck pain
- Migraines and Headaches
- Weight Loss
- Insomnia and Sleep Disorders
- Allergies and Asthma
- Digestive Issues
- Fertility and Menstrual Disorders
- Smoking Cessation
- High Blood Pressure
Ear Seeds, the Vagus Nerve, & Stress Reduction
The vagus nerve plays an important role in balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, turning off the body's stress response and inducing relaxation.
There are numerous nerve branches covering the ear, including many vagus branches located in the concha of the ear (see photo). In fact, the ear is the only place where the vagus nerve reaches the surface of the body.
Ear seed stimulation can help regulate the vagus nerve, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is initiates resting, digesting and relaxing thereby helping with multiple conditions that have a stress component.
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