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Web Interview - Ear Candling

Mary Dalgleish

with Mary Dalgleish &...

Mary is a complementary therapist with professional qualifications in Holistic Aromatherapy, Reflexology, Ear Candling, Indian Head Massage, and Facial Rejuvenation as well as numerous post-graduate qualifications.

Mary teaches Level 3 courses in Anatomy & Physiology and courses in Ear Candling, Indian Head Massage and Facial Rejuvenation (Natural Face Lift Massage).

0044 (0) 20 8874 9047
Lesley Hart
...Lesley Hart from England

Lesley Hart is a complementary therapists, tutor and author with 15 years experience. She practices Aromatherapy, Body Massage, Indian Head Massage, Facial Radiance and Ear Candling. She is co-principal of Hands on Training and teaches in the UK and Dubai.

0044 (0) 20 8462 1886

About Ear Candling

Q. Ear Candling for those that are new to it can seem a little daunting with the image of a human birthday cake springing to mind! Can you explain the format that a Hopi Ear Candling session takes?
A. A treatment requires a pair of specialised ‘candles’ to be used in the ears - they are not candles as such but hollow tubes made from cotton, linen or hemp, which are sprayed with beeswax and infused with honey and herbs. We recommend using ear candles or cones such as those manufactured by Biosun or Otosan. These are certified medical products under EC guidelines so they have been well tested and are safe to use. The burning of these candles takes about 10 minutes for each ear, and a practitioner usually follows this with a gentle massage of the face, ears, neck and scalp to enhance the effects of the candling.

Q. What is the primary purpose of Ear Candling? Does it have a therapeutic or medical basis?
A. Ear Candling is a pleasant non-invasive treatment that can help to promote an enhanced state of health. It is used primarily to relieve conditions in the head and ear area, such as sinus problem, compacted ear wax, tinnitus and headaches or simply as an enjoyable means of relieving stress. Research for our book indicates that ear candling has a beneficial effect on the subtle energy – helping to calm and revitalize the chakras. Ear Candling is used as a complementary therapy and in recent years is gradually being embraced by the National Health Service. Some medical practices are using ear candling as an alternative to syringing for the treatment of excessive earwax - this is because, in some cases, syringing can perforate the eardrum.

Q. Having the word ‘ear’ in the treatment title gives the illusion that it is used primarily just to treat ear conditions. Is this true or is the treatment wider ranging?
A. The treatment can relieve conditions affecting the ear, such as earaches, tinnitus, excessive earwax, and glue ear. It also benefits other conditions that affect the head area such as colds, hay fever, headaches, sinus problems and snoring and is an extremely relaxing treatment in its own right.

Q. Ear Candling is sometimes written as ‘Hopi’ Ear Candling. Does this mean that there are many types of Ear Candling or does the definition of the word Hopi explain all?
A. There are several types of ear candles on the market and they vary in size, shape and constituents. The market leaders in the UK are Biosun (which are cylindrical in shape) and Otosan (which are cone-shaped) – both feature important safety features in their products, which are certified medical products under EC guidelines.

Biosun candles are known as Hopi Ear Candles because they are based on the formula that is traditional to the Hopi Indians of the USA- cotton, beeswax, honey, sage, chamomile and St John’s Wort. The Hopi who are renowned for their great medicinal knowledge collaborated with Biosun to pass their formula on to the rest of the world.

Ear Candling

Q. How are the Ear candles formulated and how do they differ from a standard household candle?
A. Ear candles are not candles as we usually understand them in that they are hollow and have no wick. They are made from cotton, linen or hemp, and sprayed with beeswax which stiffens the candles. Some types of candles also have the added benefit of being infused with honey, herbs, propolis or essential oils. When ear candles are alight, they resemble standard candles so that is how they got the name.

Q. Are there different candles for different purposes? Can you give some examples?
A. There are several types of candles on the market; their main purpose is the same - to relieve conditions affecting the head and ear area. The types of candles can be broadly grouped as Hopi candles, ear cones, basic (or natural) ear candles. The size, shape, constituents and safety features vary. Here are some examples:

Hopi Candles Biosun
Hopi ear candles are cylindrical in shape, around 22cm long with a burning time of 10-12 minutes and are made using the traditional Hopi formula. Safety features include a filter, which prevents particles dropping into the ear and a maximum burn line showing when the candle should be extinguished.
Ear Cones
Otosan make ear cones which are wider at the top and shorter than the traditional Hopi candles. They are made from cotton, beeswax and propolis and have a burning time of 5-7 minutes. Safety features include a flame-breaking ring and a valve to prevent particles dropping into the ear. Otosan have recently introduced a larger cone with a longer burning time.
Basic Candles
These are marketed under various trade names and are often referred to as ‘natural ear candles’. These are made from cotton flax or hemp with beeswax and generally no other ingredients are added. Their size and shape vary. They usually have no specialised safety features, so the manufacturer’s instructions need to be carefully followed.
Ear Candling Treatment

Q. What happens when the candle is lit and the process begins?
A. The non-burning end is gently inserted in the outer ear canal. A light turning movement is applied so the ear candle is sealed and this seal can be assisted with a gentle pull of the ear lobe. Being a hollow tube or cone, the centre of an ear candle is simply a column of air rather than a solid mass.

When lit at the top, the rising air column inside the candle begins to heat up and as it burns, it continues to heat up the top of the rising air column in the centre of the candle.
This creates a very mild suction action at the base, which helps to loosen compacted earwax. At the same time, the beeswax and other ingredients, which are infused in the fabric of the tube or cone, are vapourised.

These ingredients, some of which are slightly oily, make the air inside the candle heavier and it spirals downwards into the ear canal, setting up pressure waves and gentle sound waves from the sizzling ingredients, which massage the eardrum. Since even the slightest movement of the eardrum is carried onwards to the middle and inner ear, all of the structures of the ear receive a gentle massage.

The ears, nose, sinuses and throat are all interconnected, so this has the effect of regulating and balancing pressure in the ears as well as the whole of the upper respiratory tract. The receiver may experience a feeling of pressure being released in the ears or sinuses or a popping sound as the Eustachian tube opens. An internal filter in good quality ear candles prevents any wax or other residue entering the ear. Once the candle has burnt down to a marker line, it is carefully removed and the flame extinguished in a glass of water. Then the other ear is treated in the same way.

Q. What benefits have you found amongst your clients following an Ear Candling session?
A. The benefits reported by clients have been wide ranging - here are some of the most common problems that have been relieved by ear candling:

  • Pain and congestion in the ears and head following flying and diving.
  • Snoring
  • Insomnia – many clients fall asleep during the treatment so this is one reason why it should not be self-administered!
  • Tinnitus
  • Compacted earwax which gradually softened and was expelled from the ears after several treatments.
  • Migraine and tension headaches
  • Stress – many clients find the treatment extremely relaxing and some have it for this reason only!
  • Sinus problems

Q. Would you recommend Ear Candling as something that can be performed at home if the conditions are correct? If so where would you purchase candles?
A. Ear Candling can be done at home as long as the treatment is not self-administered and the manufacturer’s instructions are carefully followed. Ear candles are available in many retail outlets such as health food shops, and also on the Internet – see revital or otosan.

Q. What are the contra indications on having an Ear Candling treatment or could everyone have a treatment?
A. You should not have a treatment if you have a perforated eardrum or grommets (drainage tubes) implanted in the eardrum. The same applies to oil recently placed in the ear as well as any form of inflammation of the outer ear or skin diseases in and around the ear. If you suffer from a chronic or acute disease, or if you feel ear candling may not suit you, you should consult your medical practitioner or a therapist of your confidence for further advice.

Q. Many people suffer from ear pain when flying. Can Ear Candling be beneficial and if so why?
A. Changes in air pressure when flying can lead to a feeling of pain and pressure in the ears as the eardrum bulges towards the area of lower pressure. This is medically known as barotrauma. To keep air pressure inside and outside the eardrum equal, we have natural "drainage" tubes (the Eustachian tubes) that connect the middle ears to the back of the nose and throat. The tubes have one-way valves which allow air to escape from the middle ears to the throat; yawning, chewing, or swallowing helps open the valves in the other direction so that air (and sometimes fluid) can go into the middle ears. As an aeroplane descends the air pressure becomes higher nearer the ground and this pushes the ear drum inwards.

To relieve this, the pressure inside the middle ear has to rise quickly. If there is any blockage of the Eustachian tube that stops air entering the middle ear, then the eardrum is stretched and becomes more and more tense from the outside pressure, causing pain. Common reasons why this might happen are ear infections, throat infections, hay fever or any condition causing extra mucus in the Eustachian tubes. In some people, the Eustachian tube does not drain very well or is too narrow and becomes easily blocked with mucus. Yawning and swallowing will open up the valves and cut down on the pain.

Another commonly used technique is the “Valsalva Manoeuvre” in which you pinch and blow hard against the nose. This forces air into and up the Eustachian tube to equalise the pressure behind the eardrum. A popping sensation should be felt in the ear as the eardrum returns to its correct position. As soon as the plane starts to descend and a change in pressure is sensed, this should be done and repeated every few seconds until landing whenever the pressure drop sensation is felt.

The warmth of the ear candle appears to help the Eustachian Tube to function properly and the slight suction action can help the eardrum regain its correct tension. Since diving causes similar pressure changes and associated problems, Ear Candling can be very beneficial and a treatment up to 48 hours before and/or after flying or diving is highly recommended.

Q. How far in do we actually have earwax and does ear candling remove all the wax?
A. Earwax is made in the outer ear canal, which is the area between the fleshy part of the ear that is visible and the middle ear. The skin in the outer ear canal has around 4,000 special glands that produce earwax or cerumen, as it is properly known.
The ear canal is self-cleaning - after the wax is produced, it slowly makes its way to the opening of the ear and it either falls out (usually while we sleep) or is removed when we wash. In most people, the outer ear canal makes earwax all the time, so the canal always has enough wax in it.

Earwax contains special chemicals that fight off infections that could irritate the skin inside the ear canal. It also acts as a shield between the outside world and the eardrum. When dust, dirt, and other things enter the ear, earwax traps them so they can't travel any further. Its bitter taste and smell also help to keep insects out!
Most people don't need to do anything special to remove earwax. The ear canal and eardrum are very delicate, and you can cause damage by poking around in your ear – you can also push and pack the wax in further.

In some people, one or both ear canals make extra earwax. In this case ear candling has been found to soften and loosen excess wax so that it falls out easily without the need for syringing. Regular treatment can prevent earwax from building up and causing problems. Contrary to what some people say, Ear Candling does not suck up large amounts of wax or other products from the ear canal. The residue that is found inside an ear candle after treatment is actually from the candle itself, with more residue normally remaining when the clients’ problems are more severe. You can read more about all of this in our book “Ear Candling in Essence”.

Book - 'Ear Candling in Essence'

Q. You have recently released a book about Ear Candling what level of expertise is the booked pitched at? Is it for experienced therapists or beginners looking for a way into a therapy-related career?
A. Ear candles are sold over the counter in many health stores and pharmacies and are used by a lot of people as a home remedy for ear, nose and throat problems as well as being used by professional therapists. This book is pitched at anyone wanting to learn about the history and practice of ear candling as well as for therapists wishing to top up their skills.

Q. Is the book a complete teaching guide or an overview that can be used in conjunction with a practical course?
A. The content of the book is very comprehensive and written in a clear accessible style with numerous photographs, frequently asked questions and case studies. We feel that it could be used as a complete teaching guide or in conjunction with a practical course. As a professional therapist, you will need evidence of attendance at an accredited course for insurance purposes if you wish to practice ear candling on your clients.


Q. What Ear Candling courses would you recommend in UK? Do you have any course advice for people reading this interview outside the UK?
A. Of course, we recommend the CMA accredited courses taught by Hands on Training tutors and we have had lots of positive feedback from our students – see hands-on-training.net Lesley is co-principal of Hands on and courses are offered worldwide, so if you can organize the course and it fits in with our schedules perhaps we can come to you! Otherwise we suggest looking on websites such as hotcourses.com, itecworld.co.uk, vtct.co.uk
Ear candling is easy to learn – most courses are one day long. The therapist remains seated during the treatment so it is pleasant and relaxing to perform and the client satisfaction is very rewarding. Topics covered on our ear-candling course include the history of ear candling, benefits, contraindications, types of ear candles available, their constituents and how they differ, anatomy & physiology of the ear and related structures and ample time is given to the practical session. You will learn how to perform the treatment safely and effectively as well as a massage of the face, neck, ears and scalp to enhance its effects.

Q. Taking the UK as an example is the market demand large enough to enable a fully qualified Ear Candle professional to practice in this therapy alone?
A. Ear Candling is not for everyone; some people don’t like to have their ears touched, others may have no need for the treatment while others may view it rather ‘strange’. These days, most professional therapists realise the importance of gaining qualifications in a range of therapies so that they can offer a variety of treatments and attract a larger clientele. In addition, for insurance purposes, it is usually a pre-requisite to have a qualification in another therapy before you can be insured to practice ear candling.

Mary and Lesley's interest in Ear Candling

Q. What sparked your interest in Hopi Ear Candling? Was it an extension of another therapy or something new to you?
A. Mary... It was Lesley who first introduced me to Ear Candling. We both practice and teach several complementary therapies and met through our teaching work. For me it was something new but immediately of interest because since childhood I have suffered from ear nose and throat problems.

It was not until I discovered complementary therapies that I began to explore and discover natural ways of dealing with these problems and Ear Candling was one of the tools that I used. Through a combination of dietary changes (particularly the elimination of mucous forming foods) and Ear Candling, problems which had bothered me for years are now under control.

Lesley... About 10 years ago I saw an Ear Candling treatment being done at an exhibition and was instantly fascinated by it. I was a practicing massage therapist and Ear Candling was new to me. When I had my first treatment I loved it and realized that it is an effective therapy in its own right.

Q. What other therapies do you practice and can you use Ear Candling alongside for a total treatment?
A. Mary... I practice Holistic Aromatherapy, Reflexology, Indian Head Massage and Facial Rejuvenation. An Ear Candling treatment takes approximately 25 minutes and is usually combined with a massage of the face, neck, ears and scalp making a full treatment of 45 minutes to one hour. It could equally be combined with another treatment such as Reflexology or Indian Head Massage but preferably a treatment, which does not require the client to undress.

Lesley... I also practice Indian Head Massage, Aromatherapy and Facial Radiance. I don’t usually combine Ear Candling with other treatments but use it as a therapy in its own right.

Thank you Mary and Lesley for taking part in the web interview!

website: www.head2toemassage.co.uk >>

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