Ear Seeds Are the Latest Wellness Trend All Over Instagram—Here's Why
You might have mistaken the latest wellness trend on Instagram for jewellery. What you're looking at aren't just some super delicate earrings, they're ear seeds. Based in traditional Chinese medicine, ear seeds are small pieces of metal placed meridian lines to help alleviate a range of ailments. It's a form of acupuncture, which has long been practiced in Traditional Chinese Medicine to help with all manner of health issues, from chronic pain and allergies to insomnia and anxiety.
There's good evidence for using acupuncture for chronic pain and this has seen acupuncture swell into the mainstream in recent decades. The traditional practice involves a trained professional sticking fine needles in pressure points, with different points poised to treat different ailments and body parts. So, what's this new take-home version of acupuncture and is it worth trying to help you manage stress and sleep issues?
What are ear seeds?
The technical term for ear seeds is auriculotherapy and it involves securing small metal balls to different parts of the ear with tape to stimulate different pressure points within the ear. Like the foot, the ear is one of the few body parts that contains pressure points linked to the whole body, from the heart to the liver, so targeting different points in the ear can target different ailments. When applied, they look like tiny metal dots decorating the ear, and you better believe that ear seeds with Swarovski crystals are available to buy! In fact, Instagram is now swelling with chic ear seed options.
Elle Halliwell started using ear seeds to alleviate stress and nausea when she was pregnant and has since launched her own brand, aiming to reach a wider range of people with her style-conscious range of ear seeds.
"I have been a fan of ear seeds since an acupuncturist girlfriend of mine treated my anxiety with them," the Auricle founder tells us. "I really loved the results I had received so began training as an auriculotherapist. It’s incredible what you can tell about a person’s wellbeing and health status from their ears!"
How do they compare to acupuncture?
While ear seeds can be used on their own, many acupuncture practitioners use ear seeds to complement their in-person needle practice, almost like a party favour, something you can take home to savour the experience. This means that a patient might be able to get a longer benefit out of their treatment. They generally stay in for 5 days to a week and might help patients fare better between treatments.
Once inserted, patients are encouraged to press on the seeds a few times a day or if experiencing pain, anxiety, insomnia or other symptoms. But ear seeds are also allowing people to access acupuncture who couldn't before, whether that be for financial or accessibility reasons, as a cheap, at-home option.
Is it worth trying?
While you can buy ear seeds and DIY kits online and insert them yourself, it's best to go to an acupuncturist first to get the low-down on which pressure points to target for your specific conditions and how to safely apply them. Acupuncturists like to understand your medical history and life situation to give you the best, most targeted treatment so it's worth checking in with one to get the most value out of your ear seeds. If you're already a fan of acupuncture, think of ear seeds as an enhancement to your acupuncture experience.
There's not a huge amount of research on ear seeds but they're unlikely to cause discomfort or side effects, so they're worth giving a go as a low-risk option, and they don't look half-bad either.