Acupuncture is fairly mainstream, with people turning to it for pain, anxiety, and even fertility. While the list of benefits is long, it can be time-consuming and expensive, which is why when I first heard about ear seed acupuncture, which you can do on your own at home, it piqued my interest.
What exactly are ear seeds?
Depending on the type you buy, ear seeds are made of either metal or Vaccaria seeds, sourced from the Vaccaria plant and popular in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The metal or seeds are put on adhesive tape, which you can then place on your ears, applying the pressure by rubbing them in a circular motion for a few minutes; you can do this all at home and don’t need an acupuncturist to do it.
“Ear seed acupuncture seeds are different from traditional acupuncture needles called acu-needles. These seeds are used as a complementary approach and are rooted in the same belief system as traditional acupuncture,” acupuncturist Ani Baran, LAc, of New Jersey Acupuncture Center explains. “Essentially, they are small seeds with an adhesive backing that are applied along the ear and work with the pressure points found in your ears. This method of treatment is also called auriculotherapy which translates to ear therapy—acupressure or acupuncture that focuses on ears.”
Acupuncturist Kate Reil, LAc, MS, who works at the Yinova Center (which has a third location opening this month) adds that for the needle averse, they can be a great way to reap the benefits of acupuncture. “Ear seeds work by placing light pressure on acupuncture points throughout the ear because they’re not puncturing the skin—like an acupuncture treatment using needles,” she says, adding that they’re perfectly safe to do at home on your own. “You have more freedom than you might think when you have ear seeds on. You can shower with them, exercise, sleep with them on, talk on your phone, and generally live your life however you normally do!” She adds that the ear seeds will fall out naturally over a three to five day period, but you can also remove them whenever you want, using tweezers.
What ear seeds work for?
Now that I knew they were safe, I was curious as to what exactly they were used for. “For everything!” Reil says enthusiastically. She explains to me that the ears are essentially a hotbed of acupressure points, which is why no matter what your specific reasons are for seeing an acupuncturist, chances are you’ll end up with some needles in your ears. “Ear acupuncture can be an addition to whole-body acupuncture or as a treatment on its own,” Reil tells me.
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