I learned about ear seeds by accident, but I’m glad I did because ever since I’ve been using them, I have lower stress and anxiety and the process couldn’t have been easier.
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Auriculotherapy – standing for the auricle or the ear’s outer part – is the concept that the ear is a microsystem reflecting the entire body. Sometimes you’ll see this represented in imagery as the shape of an infant in the ear canal.
Ear seeds are actual tiny Vaccaria seeds from the flowering Vaccaria plant, which looks almost like a tall weed with a small purple, pink or white flower.
The use of ear seeds is a practice known as ear acupressure, auriculotherapy, or ear acupuncture.
Photo by Rene Cizio
How I Discovered Ear Seeds
I learned about ear seeds on a recent visit to an acupuncturist. As I was leaving my acupuncture appointment, she suggested that I try some ear seeds to help manage my stress and I had no idea what she meant.
She explained that ear seeds, in this case, were tiny Vaccaria seeds (like chia seed) on a small piece of adhesive tape. As we stood in front of a map labeling the ear’s pressure points, she told me about the different points in the ear and how they connect to parts of the body, tissues and nerves.
After talking to my acupuncturist about my stress levels, she decided to place the seeds on my “Shen Men” point. This is known as the Spirit Gate or, Neurogate and pressure on this point are said to calm an overactive mind and reduce tension.
Whenever I had stress, I simply rub, tap, or pinch the area, pressing the seed into my ear and activating the pressure point.
What Are They?
Ear seeds are traditional Chinese medicine like acupuncture but can be less expensive, safely self-applied and non-invasive. The seeds, or sometimes also beads, gems, or pellets, are taped or glued to the outer ear.
Chinese culture believed that the needles or seeds disrupted the body’s Qi “chi” flowing through bodily meridians and helped rebalance your energy. More modern practitioners believe they stimulate and calm the nerves, muscles, hormones, and tissues.
Photo by Rene Cizio
Symptoms They Help Relieve
Practitioners say Qi energy travels through your body along meridian paths through internal organs and tissues with connection points in the ear.
Depending on your issue, you place the seeds on specific points to balance hormones, calm the nervous system, or clear blockage from a channel to a particular organ.
A map of the ear’s pressure points shows hundreds of connection points to place the seeds depending on your health issue. Some common ones are:
- Back pain
- Sleep issues
- Head pain
Just like acupuncture, some believe ear seeds can also help you lose weight, quit smoking, and any number of physical and psychological ailments.
How Ear Seeds Work
You place the ear seeds on your ear on specific points according to the meridian lines and the issue you want to affect. You can place seeds yourself or have an acupuncturist do it for you. It’s a matter of knowing precisely where to put the seeds.
When my acupuncturist placed mine, she first cleaned my ear with an alcohol swap and peeled the seeds from their backing. The seeds she used for me were pre-attached on tiny tan adhesive bandages. She carefully placed them in position using tweezers while referencing a map of ear meridian points to ensure proper positioning.
Once the ear seeds are correctly positioned, you press them to ensure they have fully adhered.
My acupuncturist recommended that I massage or tap my seeds gently whenever I felt the signs of stress. Depending on your issues, you may need to rub the seeds or apply more pressure for extended periods or intervals throughout the day.
The first rule is to be careful when applying and removing them. You don't want to drop one in your ear canal. You’ll also want to change them regularly like you would a bandage. Frequency depends on your activity and washing habits.
The seeds or adhesive bandage may fall off after about a week, but if they don’t, you should change them. You can remove them with a fingernail or tweezers; just be sure to tilt your head so the seed doesn’t fall in your ear.
Are Ear Seeds Safe?
Ear seeds are generally safe. They’re non-invasive and don’t require the use of needles, like acupuncture. There’s a lower risk of infection, bleeding, or stray needles behind left behind (which has happened to me).
If you have sensitive skin, like me, or a latex allergy, metal seeds or adhesive tape might be irritating. If so, you’ll need to test a few different types of seeds and adhesives. Give it a break for a few days in-between applications.
Some people without allergies or sensitivities develop small sores around the seeds, too. This is often due to massaging them too often or not letting the ears rest before applying new seeds.
When you start using them, you’ll want to check for signs of irritation from the seeds and the adhesive. Some people have complained of:
My ears have been sore since I started using the ear seeds because I’ve been pressing them like crazy!
Do They Work?
There aren’t many studies about ear seeds, acupuncture, or auriculotherapy. However, many people swear these techniques have helped them solve some of their issues.
I’m not a doctor, but it’s easy to believe that massaging the seeds/ears can improve blood circulation. We know that better circulation increases oxygen flow. That causes the spread of nutrients through the body, so I could see it doing some good.
As for me, ear seeds have seemed to help lower my stress levels. Part of this might be a placebo effect because I think tapping my ear is supposed to relax me. It does, but either way, it’s working. I feel more relaxed more often.
Where You Can Get Ear Seeds
A simple internet search will reveal many companies selling various types of ear seeds. Most are seeds from the Vaccaria plant, but you can also find metal, crystal, stone, ceramic, gems, or pellets. Seeds are either taped or glued to the outer ear. There are also kits that include seeds, adhesives, and charts according to the symptoms you’re addressing.
Try it and let me know what you think.