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Ear Candling - Mythbusters

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by

Aleksa Kulezic

on 2 December 2013

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Transcript of Ear Candling - Mythbusters

Testing Ear Candling
At health expositions, you can find a variety of different health treatments, one being ear candling. One important test was conducted by Rebecca Long, who is the president of the Georgia Council Against Health Fraud, who went to the 1992 Discovery Expo in Atlanta and observed the procedure of ear candling. The stall at which it was being done was selling it for $30 so Rebecca bought a set of ear candles and tried the procedure herself at home. The candling made a hissing sound during the testing and her ear was becoming so hot that she had to stop the experiment.

Another more recent test was done by two investigators who tested candles to see whether the wax accumulated after burning came entirely from the candle or also managed to extract wax that came from the ear. This test demonstrated that all residue had come from the actual candle and that no ear wax whatsoever was removed from the ear during the procedure.
Double Blind
No records of set double blind experimental tests could be found for ear candling treatments but it can easily be tested by having a number of patients being tested by the same number of doctors to get results.

Double Blind - A double blind experiment is an experimental procedure in which neither the subjects of the test nor the persons administering the test know the critical aspects of the experiment. The double-blind procedure is used to guard against both experimental bias and placebo effects.


How does 'Ear Candling' help?
Proponents claim that candling can:

- relieve sinus pressure and pain
- cleanse the ear canal
- improve hearing
- regulate pressure
- purify the mind
- relieve pain/fever associated with a ruptured eardrum
- relieve earaches
- fortify the central nervous system
- clear the eyes
- reduce stress and tension
Conclusion
Since no actual evidence exists of what practitioners claim ear candling to treat, the evidence is more anecdotal than based on real scientific research/evidence. If anything, testing that has been done has concluded that "ear candles provide no benefit in the management of earwax, and their use may result in serious injury". Ear candles are not FDA approved and pose a significant risk when used. They are quite dangerous and serve no beneficial purpose.
Bibliography
http://www.audiologyonline.com/articles/ear-candling-fool-proof-method-1010 - December 12th, 2005. By Heather L. Shenk. Visited 29/10/13

http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/candling.html
Lisa Roaze, 10/5/10. Visited 29/10/13

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ear_candling - Various sources

http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/govtregulation/a/EarCandle.htm
visited 29/10/13, updated 15/09/12, - By Cathy Wong

Ben Goldacre "Waxing Skeptical", 'The Guardian' 25/2/05 updated, visited 29/10/13
Ear Candling - Mythbusters

Where can I buy ear candles?
Although I highly recommend staying away from this sham of a health practice, you may purchase ear candles in Australia, ranging from $5 to $20 for sets. Candles can be made out of linen or cloth and soaked in rosemary or honey. Ear candles have actually been outlawed in the U.S and Canada and it is illegal to purchase them online or have them imported.
So, does ear candling actually work?
Since wax is sticky, the negative pressure needed to pull wax from the canal would have to be so powerful that it would rupture the eardrum in the process. This makes ear candling a dangerous and risky practice however, candling produces no vacuum. Researchers who measured the pressure during candling of ear models found that no negative pressure was created. The same investigators had candled eight ears and can found out that no ear wax was removed and some candle wax was actually deposited in some of them!
The notion that the ear canal is connected to structures beyond the eardrum is false. The external ear canal, with an intact eardrum, is not connected to the brain, the sinuses targeted by the procedure, or the Eustachian tubes. Some claim that the eardrum quickly allows impurities to pass through but this is untrue. The "impurities" that appear in the wax that is collected on the collecting plate are actually ashes from the burnt wick and wax from the cone itself!
Practice and Purpose of Ear Candling
"Ear candling," also known as auricular candling or ear coning, refers to various procedures that all involve inserting a cone-shaped device in the ear canal which is supposed to extract earwax and other impurities with the help of smoke or a burning wick, out of the ear. The origins of candling are obscure but they are believed to have originated from as far back as Ancient Tibet, China, Egypt, the pre-Columbian Americas, and even the mythical city of Atlantis. The procedure creates a low-level vacuum that withdraws wax and other debris out of the ear canal. It is also claimed that ear candling removes impurities from the inner ear and even the barin, which are somehow connected to the ear canal.
How is ear candling done?
The patient that is undergoing the procedure is to lie down on his or her side. A plate is placed above the ear to collect the wax, and the candle is inserted through a hole in the middle of the plate and into the ear canal. The candle is trimmed as it burns down. After the candle is blown out and removed, a cotton swab is used to remove any extra earwax from the ear, and "ear oil" is applied.Practitioners place the still-hot candle in a bowl of water, and claim that everything in it which is not obviously beeswax is earwax, toxins, dead skin, drug residues, or remnants of past yeast infections, none of these of which have been verified. Nearly all package directions indicate that the ear will feel warm but not hot, and that the experience will be relaxing or even spiritual in nature when in reality, most patients claim that when they underwent ear candling, their ear became so hot that they had to stop the procedure.
By Aleksa Kulezic
The Placebo Effect - The 'Placebo Effect' is a phenomenon in which a fake treatment is conducted on a patient and tricks them into believing that the treatment will work because they expect it to.

Evidence Based Medicine - Evidence based medicine is approved medicine that has been proved by conducted scientific research for use in treatments
Placebo Effect and EBM
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