Just when you think we’ve hit peak ‘weird wellness trends’, another one comes along that blows it out of the water. EFT tapping, crystal-infused water bottles, sound baths… and those have just been in the last year! But the latest healing technique trending in NYC (for once, it’s not LA!) is one that involves a body part we can’t say we’ve ever given much thought to. Enter, the wellness trend of ear seeds.
What are ear seeds?
If you’ve ever been to an acupuncturist, there’s a good chance you’ve actually experienced ear seeds before. They’re the tiny seeds of the vaccaria plant that are stuck onto certain points of the ear using adhesive tape in order to prolong the effects of the session. However, it’s only recently that auriculotherapy—a form of Chinese Medicine that focuses on the use of ear seeds—has gone mainstream.
The idea is that different parts of the ears correspond with different organs and systems within the body and stimulating them can treat various ailments. Proponents of the treatments believe that ear seeds can reduce headaches and back pain, as well as treat addiction and prevent cravings. Pretty amazing, right!? It’s no wonder wellness devotees are starting to DIY it, with companies like Ear Seeds selling ones you can apply at home. And because walking around in public with the seeds on your ear may look a little strange, they even have a more subtle Swarovski crystal version.
Do ear seeds actually work?
There’s still too limited research to say for sure whether ear seeds are the real deal. But one study published the Clinical Journal of Pain found that in combination with exercise, ear acupuncture can help ease chronic low-back pain. Another review published just this year in Pain Medicine found that ear acupuncture was helpful in treating acute pain. Given that countless people swear by daith piercings in the innermost cartilage fold of the ear to cure migraines, it’s not so far-fetched to believe that sticking ear seeds in certain places could relieve pain.
As for assisting with addiction and cravings? Dr. Stephen Chee, who is both a doctor and acupuncturist, explains that it has to do with breaking up a pattern. “I find ear seeds to be most helpful in patients who are motivated to change and looking for something that they can physically do,” he says. “I explain to patients it’s useful as a ‘pattern interrupt.'” For example, if he has a patient with a stress eating problem, he’ll place the ear seed on the corresponding point and then encourage them to apply pressure for 15 to 60 seconds and take some deep breaths when they get the urge to overindulge.
You can test out Ear Seeds for yourself here.