Ear seeds are small seeds used to stimulate pressure points in your ear. They're a type of auriculotherapy, which refers to acupressure or acupuncture focused on the ear. They're based on the same general principles as acupuncture.
According to TCM, this energy travels along invisible pathways, known as meridians. Meridians are found throughout your body, including your ears.
Ear seeds are placed on certain points, usually along meridian lines, to help clear up any qi blockages. In TCM, resolving these blockages may help with a variety of health conditions.
How do I use them?
While it’s possible to place ear seeds yourself, it’s usually best to see a trained acupuncturist for your first time.
They can go over the symptoms you’d like to address and help you find the corresponding points on your ear. They can also show you how to properly place the seeds.
Traditionally, ear seeds come from the flowering herb vaccaria. But today, you can also find metal or ceramic beads.
It’s a good idea to let your skin rest between ear seed placements. Try to wait a day (at least eight hours) before using new ear seeds.
Are they safe to try?
Ear seeds are generally safe. They’re noninvasive and don’t require the use of needles, so there’s a much lower risk of infection or bleeding compared to acupuncture.
However, if you have sensitive skin or a latex allergy, metal seeds or adhesive tape might cause some irritation. If your skin tends to get irritated by metal, stick with ceramic or vaccaria seeds.
Some people also develop small sores around the seeds. This is often due to massaging the seeds too frequently or not letting the ears rest before applying new seeds.
The bottom line
Ear seeds, a type of traditional Chinese medicine related to acupuncture and acupressure, may be a cost-effective approach to complementary treatment.
This is especially the case if you’re interested in acupuncture but prefer a noninvasive approach.
While scientific evidence supporting the benefits of ear seeds is limited, existing research does suggest ear seeds may provide relief from certain things, including insomnia,pain and weigh loss.