Ear seeds are the oldest healing modality you’ve probably never heard of. Rooted in the principles of Chinese medicine, ear seeds are a natural, effective, and side-effect-free product that can support a broad spectrum of health concerns including anxiety, stress, headaches, digestion, immunity, and focus.
Ear seeds are tiny balls attached to an adhesive sticker which were traditionally from the flowering herb vaccaria, but our luxe, modern version uses gold or silver plated seeds instead. They work in exactly the same way but they are much cuter!
They are a needle-free form of auriculotherapy (the stimulation of specific points of the ear to address physical and emotional health concerns) that have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years, and more recently by neurologist Dr. Paul Nogier.
TCM and Dr Nogier teach that the ear is a microsystem of the whole body, where certain points on the ear correspond to different organs or body parts. Energy pathways (or ‘qi’ or vital life energy) pass through the ear and ear seeds stimulate specific points which send an abundant flow of energy to the related organ or area that needs attention. Think of it like reflexology, but for the ears instead of feet. They also create continual, gentle pressure on nerve impulses in the ear which send messages to the brain that certain organs or systems need support. The brain will then send signals and chemicals to the rest of the body to support whatever ailments you’re experiencing, releasing endorphins into the bloodstream, relaxing the nervous system, and naturally soothing pain and discomfort.
Auriculotherapy has undergone decades of research, with a number of peer-reviewed studies showing its effectiveness in relieving everything from stress, anxiety and pain to weight issues, migraines, hormonal/fertility issues and insomnia.
Here are some studies below:
An April 2015 study in Complementary Therapies in Medicine enlisted 150 hypertensive patients and divided them into groups. The experimental group of participants received auricular acupressure for 10 weeks while the control group received regular care. Researchers found that those who received auricular acupressure reported a significant improvement in their mental health, body pain, and quality of life.
A small study of 44 college students with high levels of anxiety and temporomandibular disorders (TMD), like TMJ, also demonstrated that auriculotherapy can be an effective treatment for anxiety and TMD. The students were divided into two groups: One group received auriculotherapy with mustard seeds while the other group received a sham version of auriculotherapy. The mustard seeds were applied to the Shen Men points, as well as the TMJ points. After 10 sessions (two sessions per week), the group that received auriculotherapy with mustard seeds significantly reduced their anxiety and pain.
A June 2015 study in Pain Management Nursing suggests that auricular point acupressure may help reduce pain in cancer patients. In the study, 50 cancer patients received auricular acupressure treatment with vaccaria seeds for seven days for their pain. After the seven days of treatment, patients reported reduced pain intensity by more than half. As a result, patients took less pain medication.
In October 2017 a review in Medical Acupuncture evaluated four randomised controlled trials on ear acupuncture and found that it can significantly help reduce pain. The review also found that ear acupuncture has the potential to be used as pain management in emergency settings, but more research is needed to determine whether it reduces the use of pain medications. Another systematic review found that ear acupuncture could be a promising treatment for quick pain relief.
Results of a 2013 study looking at 19 people living with chronic low back pain suggest ear seeds could help reduce pain and improve mobility. Participants were randomly divided into two groups. The first group had ear seeds placed on points associated with low back pain. The second group had ear seeds placed in random points on the ear. The first group noticed better results than the second group after four weeks of treatment. Participants in the first group noted an overall decrease in pain intensity of 75 percent. The improvement lasted for at least a month.
Results of a study in 2012 found ear seeds were proven to dramatically reduce back pain severity for chronic lower back pain sufferers by 50 percent for some.
A study in 2017 examined the effect of auricular acupressure on women in labour. It concluded that the women treated with auriculotherapy had higher pain control and shorter labour duration.
A 2015 literature review looked at 15 studies on auricular acupuncture with ear seeds for insomnia. Together, the studies indicated that the combination of ear seeds and acupuncture seemed to reduce insomnia symptoms.
Studies conducted by researchers from the University of Leeds in 2019 showed stimulation of an area of the outer ear for 15 minutes a day for two weeks reduced the “fight or flight” response in volunteers, as well as significantly improving sleep, mood and autonomic balance compared to the placebo group.
A study in 2019 examined the effect of auricular acupressure on bowel symptoms, stress, mental health, and heart rate variability in women with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Over a four week testing period, the experimental group noticed a decrease in loose stools, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, stress, and heart rate variability.
A study in 2014 looked at the effects of ear seeds on constipation. It concluded that ear seeds had a moderate, significant effect in relieving constipation
A study in 2012 showed that auriculotherapy was an effective treatment for women aged 18-35 years old with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
A study in 2014 looked at the effect of ear acupressure and massage on the symptoms of dementia, including depression, anxiety and pain. Results showed that ear acupressure was an effective method of reducing depression, anxiety and pain.
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