Stuff that occurs to me

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Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

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Saturday, 10 October 2009

Hokey ear candles

Here is a selection of references (not many have abstracts as they seem to be letters or comments) that I'm after in my quest to find out more about ear candles. As far as I can tell there are now three shops local to me that are flogging this and a local community college is offering a course in it. This is a wooful state of affairs.

Edit 02: added Pubmed IDs 19958263 | 18800318 | 18077749 | 17555144 on 17 April 2010

Zackaria, M and Aymat, A. (2009)
Ear candling: a case report
Eur J Gen Pract. 2009; 15(3): 168-9.

Kutz, JW Jr and Fayad, JN (2008)
Ear candling.
Ear Nose Throat J. 2008 Sep; 87(9): 499.

Rafferty, J, Tsikoudas, A and Davis, BC (2007)
Ear candling: should general practitioners recommend it?
Can Fam Physician. 2007 Dec; 53(12): 2121-2.
Full article:

McCarter DF, Courtney AU, and Pollart SM (2007)
Cerumen impaction.
Am Fam Physician. 2007 May 15; 75(10): 1523-8.
"The use of cotton swabs and ear candles should be avoided"

Ernst, E. (2004)
Ear candles: a triumph of ignorance over science
Journal of Laryngology & Otology (2004), 118:1:1-2;jsessionid=40027169FFB9FF73AF11D8F26F00690D.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=403194

Richard Harris, Ph.D. (1999)
Untoward otological and audiological consequences of ear candling
Brigham Young University; Provo, UT(Posted March 5, 1999)

Seely DR, Langman AW (1997)
Coning candles--an alert for otolaryngologists?
Ear Nose Throat J. 1997 Jan; 76(1): 47.
No abstract available.
PMID: 9018937

Seely DR, Quigley SM, Langman AW (1996)
Ear candles--efficacy and safety.
Laryngoscope. 1996 Oct;106(10):1226-9.

Blakley BW (1996)
Coning candles--an alert for otolaryngologists?
Ear Nose Throat J. 1996 Sep; 75(9): 585, 588.
No abstract available.
PMID: 8870363

Pulec JL. (1996)
Cerumen and coning candle chicanery.
Ear Nose Throat J. 1996 Sep;75(9):574.Links
Comment on: Ear Nose Throat J. 1996 Sep;75(9):585, 588.

Seely DR, Langman AW (1995)
Ear candles.
Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1995 Sep;121(9):1068.
No abstract available.
PMID: 7646862

British Library reading rooms here I come :D

EDIT 01: The BBC has a fairly credulous page about the nonsense that is Hopi Ear Candles, admittedly it dates from 2006 and isn't being updated, but even so I would have expected better

Where you can waste your money learning about ear candling
Community Education Lewisham - full list of courses

Also known as thermoauricular or thermo-auricular therapy, coning, and ear candling, 


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Danny - ear candles are utter nonsense. It makes no difference which brand someone buys. Save your money people :)

  3. I've had great success with ear candles.

    Jo, why do you call them nonsense?

  4. Just out of curiosity Jo, Have you used ear candles before? There is a common misconception that many people are not aware of. There are also alot of things that they do other than aid in balancing the, for lack of a better word, health, of the ear. Of course you would know that having done the right reseach and going thruogh the actuall process. Have you tried them? Have you done the research? Let me ask you this question, Do you have a complete understanding of ear candles? I must agree with Danny, over the past few years since I have been doing ear candling, I have found that wally's natural provide the best quality and costumer service. check them out. Don't take my word for it hear it from the source.

  5. Samantha

    You talk about 'balancing the health of the ear'. Can you explain what you mean by that nad how an ear candle does that?

    What is your 'complete understanding' of ear candles?

  6. Samantha, I take it you've read the pieces to which Jo has linked, and understand that ear candles have not only been tested and revealed to be nonsense but also potentially harmful. Plainly, Jo has done some research whereas you are stating your opinion and promoting a website.

    Do you have an adequate rebuttal to the evidence? Given the evidence and genuine concerns about harm, why would it not be deeply irresponsible for you to advise that people should try these ear candles - even as a piece of theatre?

  7. Hi Samantha

    No - I've not used ear candles partly because I don't have any problems with my ears and partly because I'm not sure what it is that they're really supposed to do.

    Generally people are no longer claiming that they can help with ear wax, probably because his has been shown to be false (I understand that the wax that appears comes from the candle - which can be tested by burning one in an egg cup and the candle insides are indistinguishable from the one in the ear, and that there's insufficient suction generated by the burning candle to do this anyway).

    As this research has already been done (in the mid 90s) I'm not sure any further research by me is of much use.

    I think putting items in the ear, whether burning or not, is unwise unless there's clear evidence of benefit.

    The people I've spoken to who sell ear candles tell me that people like and feel benefit from it - which is all well and good but it isn't actually evidence that they're effective.

    I've no wish to have these things banned - I'm all for people putting in their ears whatever they like with no interference from me. I'd just prefer that people didn't make vague therapeutic claims for them while charging people £30 a pack for the candles.

  8. Thanks for this Jo. I didn't know that the marketing for these candles had changed. I know that they're not an old Hopi remedy either - have they been prevented from calling them such? Native American tribes are often quite vocal when their image is being tarnished by this kind of association.

    There's a fairly good page on What's The Harm on ear candling.

  9. Beacon

    The What's the Harm page on ear candling is here.

  10. I learned yesterday via @Blue_Wode on Twitter that the FDA has sent warning letters to 15 ear candle / ear cone producers, including Wally's Natural Products, pointing out that their products are misbranded. In the case of Wally's (the letter from the FDA is here the text states:

    "FDA requests that Wally's Natural Products immediately cease marketing, promoting and distributing Wally's Ear Candles to soften, loosen, and help break up ear wax. This includes the removal of Wally's Ear Candles and references to ear candling from your website"

  11. I recently had a most ridiculous discussion with a seller of ear candles. I'd popped into their shop in the hope of getting a leaflet, none available, but the seller encouraged me to try them for myself. I said I didn't think they did anything useful, she told me they could remove wax, I said they couldn't and even called up this post on my iPhone - at this point she got quite cross and suggested that I should do my own research rather than rely on things on the internet.

    Generally I'd agree with her because there's so much nonsense on the internet. I felt she was missing the point somewhat, because I'd looked in sensible places (OVID Medline / PubMed) to find information, and not just plucked it from Google (obviously I looked there too).

    The notion that we must try something out to find out if it works for us is one that can be taken a bit far. It most definitely doesn't apply to ear candles which are of no health benefit and whose only purpose is to make money for the manufacturers.

    The seller even told me off for wanting them to be banned, which isn't what I want to do at all. I've no wish to stop people spending their money on whatever they like but I have a large wish to stop providers making claims for things that they can't back up. Watch this space...

  12. I've deleted Danny's comment at the top because it included a link and I don't want to contribute to traffic towards a company making a product, however the comment is repeated below:-

    Danny said...

    If you're looking for quality ear candles, be sure to check Wally's Natural Products. They make the best ear candles on the market.
    Mon Oct 26, 10:56:00 PM 2009


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