Ear Candling with Jessica Simpson

One of the first exposures I had to skepticism was through the Skeptic Zone podcast, in particular the episode about ear candling. It struck a cord with me because ear candles had been recommended to me by a couple of people, but I found out in the episode that it’s actually illegal to sell them in Canada because they’re so dangerous (not to mention completely useless).

Today I was looking at Perez Hilton’s blog to see what the scoop is on poor Brittany Murphy when I saw this video that was tweeted by Jessica Simpson today of her using an ear candle.

It’s actually the first time I’ve ever seen ear candles in action and…wow…I mean it just looks ridiculous, and she’s screaming the whole way through! Seriously you have a candle right over top of your hair, it’s not even relaxing! Even if they did work I would just stick to Q-Tips.

Ear candles are hollow candles that you place over your ear…you light them and the premise is that the heat creates a vacuum that sucks the wax up out of your ears. Here’s what Dr. Rachie has to say about that:

I’m almost embarrassed to tell you that good science from proper scientists and doctors has been wasted testing these things. The seminal study on the safety and efficacy of ear candles was published in the journal Laryngoscope in 1996. The authors were particularly interested in the claim that the candles create a vacuum so they used a pressure device to measure changes in pressure for the duration of the burn. In 20 trials with 2 different candle types, they detected no negative pressure at any point during the trial.

In a clinical trial also conducted as part of this study, 4 people (2 with ear wax and 2 without), the authors reported the candles did not remove ear wax as proposed and in fact, in some cases candle wax was actually deposited in patient’s ears (2).

The authors also conducted a survey of 122 ear nose and throat specialists and found 21 cases of serious injury caused by ear candling. In 6 of these cases, patients temporarily lost their hearing. Other problems reported among the group included, 13 cases of burns, 7 cases where the wax from the candle had blocked the ear canal and 1 case of a punctured ear drum (2).

You can read more about ear candling in Dr. Rachael Dunlop’s blog post on the topic here.

I’m optimistic that this video of Jessica Simpson using ear candles will make people scared of them…but then again, people are silly.

[follow me on Twitter @EnlightningLinZ]


10 Responses to “Ear Candling with Jessica Simpson”

  1. 1 Joshua Zelinsky December 23, 2009 at 10:58 am

    I’ve been wondering for a while where the whole ear candle thing originally came from. I suspect that it started as some sort of folk remedy. But it is one of the stranger forms of alternative medicine out there and it has no clear origin that I’ve ever seen.

  2. 2 EnlightningLinZ December 27, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    After some quick googling I wasn’t able to find an answer to how it got started…but I guess maybe people made the earwax-candlewax connection and went from there. I can see how once it got started it would catch on because the wax residue from the candle itself is often thought by people who believe in ear candles to be ear wax that was sucked up into the candle.

  3. 3 Scumop January 4, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Whatever Health Canada says, drop ear candling into a google search with the ‘results from Canada’ box checked and you get >20000 results. Quite a few hits on the first few pages are for people and places that sell these things for therapeutic purposes, do ear candling, and make dramatic medical claims (such as “Helps reduce the effects of ADD & ADHD by improving mental focusing & receiving information”). They may use a few weasel words, but the claims stand out.

    Some are bold enough to put part of Health Canada’s warning on their pages, then make the claims anyway.

    Others sell the stuff. But nobody is showing up with the handcuffs.

    I’m for making a medical claim that rum will help relieve the trauma of seeing those woo-woo sites.

  4. 4 EnlightningLinZ January 6, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Haha yes being intoxicated helps take away the pain of reading nonsensical claims on woo-woo websites. I bet it would perform better than a similarly administered placebo (non-alchoholic rum?) in a randomized, controlled trial 😉

    “Improving mental focus”, I doubt if there’s a single alt med website out there that doesn’t make that claim!

  5. 5 Pete J. January 7, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Ear candles should not be regarded as wax removal devices. The idea that ear candles suck wax out of your ear is a myth that has been propagated to sell candles. From my experience, ear candles are not dangerous when used properly. Sit up while you use them, keep the candle at a 45 degree angle and you’ll be fine. furthermore, ear candles from Wally’s Natural Products have a safety tip in them that prevent wax from dripping into your ear.

  6. 6 EnlightningLinZ January 7, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Your website seems to be the only one that doesn’t make the claim that ear candles create suction that take the wax out of your ears, so at least you’re telling the truth about that.

    Your website says this:

    In reality, absolutely no ear wax is removed from your ear while the procedure is occurring. Smoke and warmth enter the outer ear canal and work to soften, loosen, and help break-up ear wax that your body cannot naturally excrete on its own. The wax is not liquefied and it doesn’t drip or drain out of your ear later. Instead, its texture becomes much softer, it’s color becomes darker, and it falls out of your ear 1 to 5 days following the procedure (usually while you are sleeping) just like it happens normally.

    This seems absurd to me. Why wouldn’t the wax go back to normal after it cools? You’re saying that it changes consistency to the point that up to 5 days after you use the ear candle wax will still be able to fall out of your ears? I’m obviously very skeptical about this claim. What evidence do you have apart from testimonials that this is what happens?

    The Health Canada website says: “Health Canada conducted laboratory tests that showed that ear candling produces no significant heating or suction in the ear canal.” So they say that ear candles don’t even significantly heat the ear, which calls into question the plausibility that ear candles heat the wax in your ear.

    The only studies I found on pubmed.com were very negative with regards to ear candles, saying that they aren’t efficacious in helping with any condition.

    Health Canada also says:

    The authors of the report, all of whom were medical doctors, conducted a survey of 122 ear specialists. They found 21 cases of serious injury caused by ear candling. In six of these cases, patients temporarily lost their hearing. Other problems reported among the group included:

    •Thirteen cases of burns
    •Seven cases where the wax from the candle had blocked the ear canal
    •One case of a punctured ear drum

    Hmm, so they haven’t been proven to help with any condition but they have been shown to be potentially harmful. So you risk burning yourself or harming your ears for what benefit? You sell safetly tips that stop wax dripping in your ears, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re holding a candle next to your head.

    Here in Canada it’s illegal to sell ear candles, and in the US you have directives that ban the importing of ear candles. Presumably this means that you manufacture them domestically (a quick look at your website confirms this). You’re right about Q-Tips not being the best way to clean out your ears, but there are safer ways (and ways that actually work) than sticking a candle in your ear. I came across a bunch of different methods in a quick google search, but I’m not sure which are safe and effective, so I would talk to a doctor before trying any of them.

  7. 7 Samuel January 14, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I really enjoy the process of ear coning or ear candling. It is very relaxing and soothing. I really just wish people could understand the true facts about it. Most of the info people get is all common miss conception and untrue facts. I have done a fair amount of research and found a couple of great places that provide excellent information.



  8. 8 EnlightningLinZ January 31, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Samuel – those websites have a lot of information, but where’s the research to back it up? They don’t link to any good studies that back up the assertions they’re making. If you could point me in the direction of a study that shows that ear candles do anything at all that justifies the risks associated with it, please do.

  9. 9 Samuel February 1, 2010 at 11:24 am

    No matter what your take is on ear candling, you have to check out this video. A parody on jessica simspon’s ear candling video.

  10. 10 Hollow Candles Gauteng July 20, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Its something new that I have come to know.

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