Thursday, August 18, 2011

To Cone or Not to Cone?

To Cone or not to Cone? That is the question for the day.

I am a big believer in holistic medicine, as well as alternative ways to be healthier. Though many vitamins sort of freak me out, the other treatments such as - Acupuncture, Massage, Aromatherapy, etc intrigue me.

About 10 years ago, I heard about coning for the first time. I remember stopping by a new spa in my hometown, and checking out their menu of options. One of the treatments, for about $60, was to have what they called "Egyptian Candle Treatment." This was waaaaaay before I had even ever met an Egyptian.

I read about how there was some wax and candles and burning involved. That you might hears some crackling and feel warmth in your ear. To be honest - it freaked me out. BUT - what I would give for one good cleaning?? Priceless.

Today, as I was busy doing what all SAHWs do (watching daytime TV) - I saw an episode on "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" about Ear Coning. They treat Bruce to one treatment. Once the procedure was finished - there was tons of "ear wax" exposed. Of course, once I saw this- I thought - HECK YEAH. I'm doing it.

Of course, being the type of person I am, I began researching Ear Coning more in depth. What I wanted to know was - what actually HAPPENS in a session. I found a great video on You Tube. Check it out:

Okay. Simple enough, and he said he felt great!

Here is a diagram of what's going on:

I wanted to know a little more about the history of coning, and how this came to be. According to - the practice is thousands of years old. Back in the day, people use cone shaped items made from pottery. The original style of coning (from the Egyptians) used hollowed reeds.

Also according to Life Healer's Journey to Wellness.. what is happening is the spiral of the cone causes the smoke to be pulled down in to the ear canal. This causes the ear canal to warm up and loosen the wax and any other material. As it heats it up, the candle causes a suction by creating a vacuum in the ear canal. Air is drawn up from the Eustachian tube into the middle ear then through the porous membrane out into the outer ear. The heat and the vacuum draw out the wax and other materials from the ear canal into the base of the candle. As it burns down you will hear a lot of cracking and hissing which is the process of removing the wax etc. The warmth feels soothing and relaxing during the process. Ear Oil placed in the ear after candling with cotton to cover will protect from further infections from bacteria, yeast's etc.

The healing properties of the Ear Candle has its foundation in two primary physical actions. Firstly, the slight under pressure (the chimney effect) inside the Ear Candle and the vibration of the rising air column serve to gently massage the ear drum and promote secretion in the frontal and paranasal sinuses. This has an immediate subjective effect of regulating and balancing ear pressure. Users often describe a soothing, light sensation in the ear and head area. Secondly, the locally applied warmth stimulates vascularization, invigorates the immune system and reinforces the flow of lymph. At the same time, important acupuncture points and reflex zones are stimulated.

The results - THIS:

That's fairly disgusting. BUT - if it is for real, how wonderful!

Then I looked for the naysayers... I found one You Tude video that did a little experiment to see if this is for real!

However, fairly new evidence from the FDA might change our minds. According to Jim Edwards on CBS's Business Network, he reports that the FDA officially came out against Ear Coning.  The FDA said, " FDA has received reports of burns, perforated eardrums and blockage of the ear canal which required outpatient surgery from the use of ear candles."

Ouch. That's harsh.

According to the Mayo Clinic, coning can cause serious injury. Their rresearch shows that ear candling is ineffective at removing earwax. In fact, the technique can actually push earwax deeper into the ear canal. Ear candling can also lead to:
  • Deposits of candle wax in the ear canal
  • Burns to the face, hair, ear canal, eardrum and middle ear
  • Perforation of the eardrum or other ear injuries
I trust the Mayo Clinic. I will tell you why, they actually support Integrative Medicine. However, they are saying - NO to Ear Coning.

My question is this - WHY DO SOME SWEAR BY IT? I believe, if you can hear better - there has to be something to it.

Regardless, I guess it is best to err on the safe side. I suppose I will bypass this form of alternative treatment. If you have experienced this, or have thought about it - share your thoughts in the comment section.


Peggy K said...

My thought is that it's all relative. I can remember having severely plugged ears during one flight and when they finally got unplugged, it seemed I'd never heard more clearly in my life. So when you are comparing plugged vs. unplugged back to back, ANY improvement will make you think it's the best ever. Just sayin'.

Leanne said...

Hmmmmm . . . I'm so interested in all this stuff lately. Coning was something I heard about years ago (I think Rosie O'Donnell talked about it on her OLD talk show back in the 90's.) I wonder . . . you've given me much to research in my area, dear. Hmmmmm . . . I like this. I wish we lived closer. Yep. We'd get in much trouble (and I'd drag you with me to all this stuff, you know that, right?)

T. D. said...

VERY interesting... Never heard of & don't think I would try this....MY hearing is just fine.

SharleneT said...

I think there will always be people who jump on the latest new whatever... try it, and then claim it's the best thing since sliced bread. We have earwax to protect the inner ear and, yes, some people do need to have blockages taken care of but by professionals. The problem with ear coning is that by being an 'alternative' treatment not everyone can prove certification and a lot of damage is done. You've done an excellent job of presenting BOTH sides in one article and hopefully folks will realize that that's the only way to get true information. If this has been going on for centuries, modern medicine would have developed a safe adaptation to reach the results claimed. Definitely not for me and I'm not someone who runs to the doctor every time I hiccup.

LBR said...

Um, well, this is something me & my brothers tried one time. We made our own ear cones out of t-shirt strips & melted wax. For real. They worked! Between the crackling and the smoke, our science experiment proved to be fun for the whole family.

Anonymous said...

i am so lucky to find this article, tankyou very much


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