Jessica Simpson: Ear-Candling So YOU Don’t Have To!


As regular, sporadic or even accidental listeners to our podcast might know, our very own Mike recently discovered ear candles lurking in the murky, unforgiving depths of Chester town centre. Dragged away from the peddler of this particular brand of dangerous crazy before he’d had a chance to a) ask why ear candles are on sale when they’re proven to be ineffective and ludicrously dangerous and b) stop  the stupid burning his brain, Mike was left with only one option – rant about it on Skeptics With A K. I suspect being on the show is actually far more beneficial to Mike’s mental health than it is to our listeners’ entertainment levels.

Still, it got me wondering – how many people actually know anything about ear candles? How many people know what they are, what they’re meant to do, what they actually do, and why they’re crazy crazy crazy? Canvassing opinion around colleagues and friends, it seemed to my (entirely un-scientifically-small) survey that the number of people who’d even heard of them was pretty low, and amongst those it was a mixed response on whether ear candles are any good or not. Which is a bit disturbing, because – as I mentioned – they’re actually crazy crazy crazy. So I found myself trying to explain to these lovely folk what an ear candle is, and the potential for harm that it can do. ‘If only’, thought I at the time, ‘I had some kind of video where a well-known yet annoying-enough-not-to-mind-seeing-them-in-discomfort celebrity had filmed themselves using an ear candle, so I could show people how woo this crap really is (and how crap this woo really is), and they could be in equal parts informed and grossed-out’.

Well, this is Christmas after all – the time of the year that wishes really do come true. They do. Ask anyone that’s been on Noel’s Christmas Presents and they’ll tell you. Oh, plus I can tell you they do, because lo and indeed behold what the intertubes have presented us with:

If you ask me it entirely kicks the arse off Gold, Frankinsense or Myrrh – if the little baby Jebus had been given a video of irritating blondelette Jessica Simpson sticking a burning candle in her ear in pursuit of some quack treatment, I’d wager he’d have kicked the three wise men to the curb, and history (by which I only mean the Bible, not actual history in terms of things that actually happened of course) would have been so much different. Then again, Jebus was but a tiny infant, so already he wouldn’t have been trusted to be smart enough to know not to put burning things in your ear because it’s ludicruously dangerous. How would a baby – even a messiah-baby – be able to figure out that putting a burning roll of waxed cotton into a very delicate area such as your ear could result in a perforated eardrum, or that the hot wax dripping from the quack-candle could very easily burn your face, drip into your ear and cause major damage, or even that the flame could set alight to your hair or surroundings?

I’d imagine the little baby Jebus would also be too young to be trusted to work out that the ear candle doesn’t really create a vortex that sucks the ear wax out of your ear, forming a residue at the bottom of the candle by way of proof. He’s also be too naive to realise that the real reason for the waxy residue at the bottom of the candle isn’t anything to do with ear wax, but it’s to do with the fact that you’re burning a candle. Made of wax. Which melts when burnt. Into a waxy residue. Around the bottom.

Thank Christ then the tiny baby Christ wasn’t given an ear candle, or he could have very easily caused permanent damage to his hearing, suffered severe burns to his skin, or even set alight to his surroundings resulting in death by smoke inhalation (he was, after all, in a wooden manger filled with straw, in a wooden shack, thousands of years before the invention of the emergency services).

I suppose, then, it’s a good job that the littlebabyJesus didn’t get given a dangerous and unproven quack therapy to play with then, and an equally good job that Jessica Simpson has did – she’s done something really stupid and dangerous, so you don’t have to. I suppose you could say this one’s her very own sacrifice for the good of mankind…

With a drip-of-the-wax to Skepchick and Bad Astronomy for the video.

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  1. #1 by Darla on December 23, 2009 - 10:19

    What was her deal in this video. Seemed like she was on something. Plus she was not doing it the right way. Ear candling should be taken with extreme caution because lets face it.. You are working with fire. Anyway, for more information and detail go to the following link

    ht tp://www.wllysnatural.com/how-to-ear-ca ndle

    (link removed for Spam reasons)

  2. #2 by Marsh on December 23, 2009 - 10:27

    Just to be clear to our readers, not only is ear candling entirely ineffective, but it’s also very dangerous. Even when done the ‘right’ way, it has no possible positive effect and only the potential for great harm.

    Please, don’t do it.

  3. #3 by AexMagd on December 23, 2009 - 11:24

    Ear candles: just say no

  4. #4 by Allan on December 23, 2009 - 11:42

    I was innocently passing my local pharmacy last week when what should catch my remaining eye but a list of ‘alternative therapies’ printed off, using the name of the pharmacy itself to trade under, and stuck to the door in intensely professional fashion.

    Among the delights on offer were reiki, aromatherapy, hynposis – all mildly irksome – and then… then… wait for it!

    Hopi Candles. 40 of your hard earned, unless you happen to be a banker, pounds can earn you, yes YOU, the once in a lifetime opportunity, dear passerby (yes it is, get over it), to have serious injury inflicted upon your person through an organisation you’d take to be part of the healthcare establishment.

    That’s right folks. A pharmacy, under the control of a (or a cabal of) licensed pharmicist(s) is pushing ear candling at the trusting, infirm masses who shuffle through its doors.

    I sense a campaign.

  5. #5 by Allan on December 23, 2009 - 11:48

  6. #6 by Marsh on December 23, 2009 - 11:49

    Really? Great spot Allan. Maybe you should go in and have a chat to the pharmacist about it, and see if they justify selling these candles. I’d be interested to hear what they say, and I’m sure we’d happily print your findings.

    As for a campaign, one campaign at a time ;)
    10:23

  7. #7 by Allan on December 23, 2009 - 11:53

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/alternativemedicine/3354619/Hopi-a-candle-brought-music-to-my-ears.html

    - remember, ear candling is not for you if you actually have some sort of infection of the… ear. eh? o_O

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/southeast/sites/mind/pages/hopi.shtml

    Laura Warren, even back in 2006, just a simple search would have revealed the horror. What the hell is Auntie up to?

    WOO!

  8. #8 by Allan on December 23, 2009 - 11:55

    I’m down in Welsh Wales until the new year, but I’ll document and interrogate the aforementioned purveyors of fine pharmaceutical and health-related treatmentrees (THESE are the money-growing ones, apparently) when I get back up that way.

  9. #9 by Allan on December 23, 2009 - 13:00

    Oh me, oh my… I wondered if this would be a one off, and so did a little search.. one tiny little looksee for “pharmacy hopi candles”, and realised i forget to add the ‘uk’ bit to try and narrow any results, but lo and behold the 5th result should catch my eye:

    http://www.essentialslondon.com/Ear-Treatments.aspx

    “Ear candles can help with the treatment of sinusitis, rhinitis, earwax, earache and irritation of the ears including tinnitus. It is also suitable for the treatment of headaches and migraines. It is not suitable for those with perforated eardrums, where grommets are in place or those who may have an allergy to the ingredients. It is a safe and gentle treatment for children.

    Many clients find the treatment relaxing. As well as the relieved feeling that comes from reduced pressure in the ears and sinuses, clients may experience a general calming effect.

    Hopi ear candles should not be used if there is any inflammation or infection in the ear and are not suitable for people who have had recent ear surgery, or those with ear grommets or tubes, perforated ear drums, or allergies to any of the products in the candle.

    Anyone who is receiving medical treatment for any ear condition should always consult their doctor first. Some clients may experience headaches or light popping in the ears after treatment.”

  10. #10 by Allan on December 23, 2009 - 13:04

    Hmmm… ‘essentials’… that sounds very fluffy… pharmacy normally only has one meaning. It dispenses prescriptions, right? Does this one? *clicky, clicky*

    Oh look. Yes they do:

    “We are a very special Pharmacy, which sells unique products, based in the heart of Covent Garden.

    We dispense NHS & Private Prescriptions….

    …Our Team

    Sage – Pharmacist & Salon Manager
    Mr Patel – Pharmacist & Manager…
    Gosia – Naturopath & Homeopath…”
    http://www.essentialslondon.com/About-us.aspx

  11. #11 by Allan on December 23, 2009 - 13:05

    A pharmacist. A ruddy PHARMACIST – one schooled in teh sighensez -dispensing NHS prescriptions, caring for the infirm while simultaneously pushing ear candles. Dear Universe, this is a ‘very special’ pharmacy indeed.

    What else do these people do? Well, there’s the Reiki *ticks box*, the reflexology *ticks box*… I just need homeopathy for a line.. wasn’t there a homeopath on staff? oh look to the left…”Our Naturopath” *clicky, clicky*

    :-O

    “A Naturopath can use many diagnostic tools for ex. iridology, tongue & nail analysis to uncover the various causes of ill health, whether it is of physical or mental origin.

    Individual treatment plan usually includes nutrition and life-style advices, diet, detox, massage, relaxing techniques and also additional: herbal medicine, homoeopathy, flower remedies etc.

    CAN HELP WITH: asthma, anxiety, allergies, colds, coughs, depression, grief, digestive disorders, earache, eczema, exhaustion, fibroids, headaches, infertility, jet lag, low libido, migraines, menstrual complains, menopause, pregnancy, sport injures, sleep problems, skin troubles, urinary disorders and many more.”

    http://www.essentialslondon.com/Naturopathy.aspx

  12. #12 by Allan on December 23, 2009 - 13:06

    Did i say a line?

    FULL HOUSE!

    BINGO!

    This is just one little search. Does the media-whore, or anyone else, know someone in that there London who might take it upon themselves to pay these good people a visit?

    http://www.essentialslondon.com/Location.aspx

    I want photos of ‘Sage’ for, err, my personal collection.

    *rant off* (for now)

    *mutters about spam filter*

  13. #13 by Darla on December 23, 2009 - 17:01

    Can you give me your reason to believe that ear candling does not work? Being dangerous I can understand…

  14. #14 by Peter J. on December 23, 2009 - 17:46

    I love ear candles.

  15. #15 by Marsh on December 23, 2009 - 19:53

    Hi Darla

    Sure, no problem – when put through clinical trials, it’s been shown that they don’t help reduce wax build ups, and often the wax coming from the candle can cause additional wax build up too. Proponents tend to point to the waxy residue left in the candle as proof that it works, but when you test a candle without putting it in someone’s ear, and just burn it in controlled conditions, the waxy residue is exactly the same. Testing the residue showed it was candle wax, not ear wax.

    There’s a couple of really thorough trials on it in PubMed (the medical database) which sum up the findings:
    “A critical assessment of the evidence shows that its mode of action is implausible and demonstrably wrong. There are no data to suggest that it is effective for any condition” – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14979962
    “Tympanometric measurements in an ear canal model demonstrated that ear candles do not produce negative pressure. A limited clinical trial (eight ears) showed no removal of cerumen from the external auditory canal. Candle wax was actually deposited in some. A survey of 122 otolaryngologists identified 21 ear injuries resulting from ear candle use. Ear candles have no benefit in the management of cerumen and may result in serious injury” – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8849790?ordinalpos=3&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    Hope this answers your questions :-)

  16. #16 by Darla on December 23, 2009 - 22:26

    So what you’re saying is, that the candle doesn’t suck wax out? The ear candle has no real effect at all?

  17. #17 by Allan on December 24, 2009 - 14:33

    Even if we were to accept, despite the evidence to the contrary, that ear candles actually did have some sort of effect in warming, softening and removing problem ear wax – as the site you linked to on your name earlier suggests – we have a choice to make:

    1) We can choose to warm, soften and remove the impacted ear wax with a proven, reliable and extremely safe method. Ear irrigation and olive oil.

    2) We could choose to put a length of flaming hydrocarbons into our ears and risk all manner of burns or organic material drippage into the organ we wish to clear of a blockage.

    So, if we discount the evidence from trials regarding the efficacy of ear candles and take that on blind faith and reported stories, we’re still left with a toss-up between two methods: A safe method and a dangerous method.

    Now, back in reality – We Welcome Careful Breathers! – the choice is slightly different. Now we have even less difficulty… We choose between a very safe method that is proven effective and a dangerous method that has been demonstrated as ineffective.

    Safe and proven Vs Dangerous and ineffective.

    Warm water versus fiery wax.

    Tempting.

  18. #18 by Michael on December 24, 2009 - 16:56

    Why are people so fucking stupid? Let them set fire to themselves. I am going to get normal birthday cake candles ‘the ones that relight when blown out’ and sell them as ear candles to see how fucking stupid people are. Especially when they start screaming!

  19. #19 by Michael on December 24, 2009 - 17:00

    For ear candles to ‘melt’ ear wax you should really put the lit end into the ear canal not the opposite end surely?

  20. #20 by Doc Harmony on December 25, 2009 - 03:09

    Ear Candles definitely do not pull ear wax or anything else for that matter out of the ear. However, they do help with ear infections, colds, flus, congestion, sinusitis, etc.

    The question is work for what and how? wdww.earcandling.infod wdww.harmonycone.comd. Websites like Quackwatch (which is paid by the medical monopoly) is correct in their assertions but just because ear candles do not pull ear wax out of the ears does not mean that they do not work.

    Good for Jessica for thinking outside of the box and trying something new and different. I am sure she feels more open and clear :) Too bad she did not relax more. I hope she tries it again :)

    Doc Harmony

  21. #21 by Allan on December 25, 2009 - 19:18

    The medical monopoly, with their pesky peer-reviewed evidence…

    Get off of my lawn, fact-holder-kids!

    *shakes fist*

  22. #22 by Michael on December 28, 2009 - 14:34

    Yeah! Those damn sciencey blabbermouths with their peer reviewed and evidence based stuff. They should be inside the tent pissing out. Come the revolution when we make pi 3, by law! No more decimals! Rebuke the metric system! I am 6’1″ NOT 185.42 cm. The line in the sand is drawn!

  23. #23 by Michael on December 28, 2009 - 14:34

    Why? Do you sell them?

  24. #24 by Darla on December 29, 2009 - 19:20

    In my years of ear candling, along with research. A majority of people out there don’t actually know what ear candling is, and when doing research they find what I like to call the “Americanized” version of ear candling. The reality is that ear candling is an ancient method in balancing the mind body and soul, thus resulting in a relaxed and positive state of being. Aztecs, Mayans, Egyptians, etc… have been practicing this for thousands of years. Their version was to burn bundles of herbs and wave the smoke into the ear and the warmth of the smoke would go in and soothe ones ear ache, headache and so on. The blended aroma of the herbs aided in the calming and balancing of one’s state of mind. As the method had advanced, in Mexico, they used rolled up newspaper, and placed it in the outer ear. Then lit one end and that had become a newer form. Soon after is when someone took that same concept and modified it thus making the first ear candle. With this new ear candle method is where things began to change. The wax from the ear candle itself would melt to the bottom. Looking like what could easily be mistaken for ear wax was in fact melted wax from the ear candling process. This is where the “Americanized” version came about. Some super salesmen picked it up and ran with it. Salesmen: “Try out ear candling. Look at all the unicorns that come out of your ear” Made it believable that these things can suck out your ear wax.
    That is why there are many people who think that ear candling doesn’t work. When in all reality, they don’t have the right facts. They really don’t understand the process.

    Please note that I am not a doctor, nor am I a historian. I make no claims that the above literature is true or false. I am merely expressing my knowledge from personal experience and research.

  25. #25 by Gittins on January 4, 2010 - 10:50

    Flu? Seriously?

    Wait wait, don’t tell me, it boosts your immune system, right?

  26. #26 by Darla on January 13, 2010 - 16:28

    Just checking in to see if anyone has had anything to say. I haven’t heard anything since my last post….

  27. #27 by Darla on February 1, 2010 - 16:47

    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.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjCLoaqxIOU

(will not be published)