What to know about ear seeds

Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Moss are reportedly fans of these tiny, Insta-famous beads, said to help with various ailments. But are ear seeds worth the hype?

They are one of the latest wellness accessories, and said to help deal with everything from insomnia to anxiety and stress.

Experts reveal everything you need to know about ear seeds.

What are ear seeds?

Chinese medicine has used the seeds from the vaccaria plant to apply pressure to particular points in the ear to treat various ailments for thousands of years.

And while they’ve been around for ages, modern day ear seeds have had a glam makeover.

What’s been doing the rounds on Instagram, and what celebs have been wearing, could easily pass for jewellery.

Ear seeds now come in the form of tiny gold or silver-plated seeds, and even Swarovski crystals beads, with adhesive backing that can be applied to the ears.

Research on the effectiveness of the tiny beads is limited and fairly inconclusive.

A US study found ear acupuncture may be promising for pain reduction with little chance of side effects.

How do ear seeds work?

The use of the ear as a way to treat various conditions is called auricular therapy, with the use of ear seeds being one of the methods.

“(Ear seeding) is a form of acupressure and is similar to acupuncture but without the use of needles,” says auricular therapist and Auricle ear seeds founder Elle Halliwell.

“Pressure is used to activate the points, which helps with the flow of your qi and opens up your energy channels.”

Ear seeding is something that is often used in conjunction with acupuncture to prolong the benefits of treatments, says Dr Stephanie Flockhart, a doctor of Chinese medicine and acupuncturist.

“The ear is a microsystem in itself,” says Dr Flockhart.

“It’s similar to reflexology in that you’re able to treat the entire body through this one little system.

“You can treat any kind of physical ailment from the top of the head, to the tips of the toes, and everything in between (using the ear).”

Elle says ear seeds can be used as both a spot treatment for something such as a headache but it can also be used for long-term health issues, such as when trying to quit smoking.

How to use ear seeds

It’s important to research where you need to apply each seed to best treat the issue you’re trying to address.

Once you’d identified the points, Elle recommends using tweezers to help you apply them.

“Generally, we say one side of the ear at a time. And then once you’ve had them on for four or five days, you take them off. They’re single use,” says Elle.

“If you still need that therapeutic action, you can pop the new seeds on the other ear.”

There are plenty of DIY kits available however if you’re still a little unsure, it’s worth paying a visit to a qualified acupuncturist to help you apply them.

And if you find it’s working for you, it’s something that can become a regular practice.

“(Using ear seeds) is giving people the opportunity to work on their own health when they’re at home, and not just in a practitioner’s office which I think is a really powerful thing,” says Dr Flockhart.

Written by Tania Gomez.