Having a burning candle stuck in your ear might not be everybody’s
idea of a relaxing therapy but Thermal Auricular Therapy, or Hopi candling as
it is also known, is thought to be useful for all sorts of problems associated
with sinus such as blocked ears, swimmers ear, headaches and migraines to name
Ear candling is thought to have
first been used by the ancient Greeks who used it to cleanse, purify and for
healing on a spiritual basis. Later the spiritual element became less important
and it was practised purely for the physical benefits of cleansing the ears and
sinuses. The popular name, Hopi candling, comes from the native American Hopi
Indians who used it in healing and initiation ceremonies. Traditionally this
was done by the Shamens or healers of the tribe.
Charlie Rumsey at the DaVinci
Centre is the therapist who is giving me ear candling therapy and firstly she
shows me the candles and how they work. “The candles are made of beeswax. They
are hollow in the middle and they work on a chimney principle, drawing any impurities
to the surface.” The candles are probably about 22cm in length, and they are
impregnated with herbs such as camomile and ylang ylang. Each candle contains a
filter which prevents any candle residue from entering the ear.
As Charlie has noted the candle
acts like a chimney with the slight draw and the movement of the flame creating
a vibration of air which generates a massage-like effect on the eardrum, which
in turn loosens debris from the ear. At the same time the mild heat stimulates
the blood and lymph circulation, and it helps drain and regulate pressure to
the sinuses. Charlie wants to reiterate that it will not draw wax out of the
ears – what it will do is loosen it. Then it will work its own way out.
I lie down on the couch and she
places a candle in my left ear. I must admit that I am slightly apprehensive
about it being lit but Charlie assures me there is no way I am going to catch
fire as she sits holding the candle while it burns and also there is a line
marked on the candles beyond which they do not burn. She has also placed
filters around the candle which prevents any candle wax from entering the ear
canal. There is a crackling noise as the candle begins to take hold and once I
get used to the idea of having a candle burning in my ear, I calm down, and
begin to enjoy the sensation as the candle slowly heats up. The smell of the beeswax
and oils burning is quite a heady mixture and although it has not induced any
spiritual feelings, it does remind me of the smell of a church with candles and
incense being burnt.
Charlie says that each candle
usually takes about ten to twelve minutes to burn down depending on how
congested the ears or sinus are. I have had ear infections before in my left
ear and also sinus problems in that side of my face and the candle in my left
ear does take much longer to burn down than the right which seems to take no
time. Once the candles are removed I am given a face massage to further help
the clearing of the sinuses.
Using grape sees oil and ylang
ylang, Charlie concentrates on the sinus areas going around the cheekbone,
around the eye sockets and on the forehead. It is not a light massage like a
facial, she exerts enough pressure that you can feel the sinuses clearing and
congestion around the eyes disappearing. It is so soothing that with smell of
the oils and this amazing massage I just want to fall asleep.
Charlie warns me not to get up too
quickly as the combination of the candle burning and oils can leave you feeling
light headed. Post candle therapy what I find is that my sinus are clearer, the
slight pain I had in my left ear is also gone. The bags under my eyes seem less
noticeable, my eyes feel less strained and I have a great night’s sleep.
The therapy is useful for people
who have compacted wax, irritation in ears or sinuses, headaches and migraines,
swimmers ears, tinnitus or ringing in ears. It can also be useful for people
who have to have their ears syringed regularly as it is a gentler and more
natural way of breaking down wax build-up.
It is not a suitable therapy if you
have any kind of infection of the ears, eyes or sinuses or if grommets are in