These are wellness products that also serve as a practical fashion statement: tiny, sticky pearls, so-called ear seeds, which are applied to certain pressure points on your ear depending on the condition. Some TikTokers claim that sticking to certain points can help us overstrained souls to actually relax for once. Do Ear Seeds Really Work Against Anxiety?
Even after scrolling through TikTok to TikTok of people who put the gems on and boast of their calming properties, I wasn’t 100% convinced. After all, the platform is teeming with dubious health tips, from putting cloves of garlic up your nose to cleanse your sinuses to filing your teeth into terrible nubs to get you fit for veneers. To find out if ear seeds really relieve anxiety, I spoke to Michael Fredericson, a sports medic at Stanford Health Care who is also certified in medical acupuncture.
According to Fredericson, ear seeds are based on a subset of acupuncture known as ear acupuncture. According to traditional Chinese medicine, energy flows through pathways in the body known as meridians, as he explained to me earlier, and blockages in this flow can lead to illness. Acupuncture can unlock them.
Ear acupuncture is about the fact that acupuncture points in the ear “map to the other meridian points that run through your body,” says Fredericson. “Only by treating these specific points is it kind of a gateway to treating the rest of the body.” In fact, ear seed kits often come with a diagram of the ear marked with dots that correspond to myriad health problems such as the common cold, stress, and shoulder pain.
Fredericson tells me that ear acupuncture is “an established treatment” for a variety of conditions, including anxiety. A search of the National Library of Medicine reveals several studies in which ear acupuncture made participants less anxious. He notes that from a Western perspective, it could work by stimulating points that help calm the sympathetic nervous system, the part of our nervous system that speeds up our heart rate, tenses our muscles, and other aspects of flight-or-fight. Response sets in motion.
Some acupuncturists – like Fredericson when he was practicing as such – place tiny magnets at specific points on the ear to intensify treatment after the patient leaves the clinic. The magnets he used lasted a few days to a week.
But do ear seeds offer the same benefits as acupuncture needles or magnets? “You could easily,” says Fredericson. “I think it just depends on whether the placement is correct.”
In other words, it’s unclear if the average person referring to a chart is applying the ear seeds where they need to go. “There is a level of sophistication and training in how to get exactly the right spot for the condition you want to treat,” says Fredericson. For the amateur, “it would be quite successful” when it comes to getting to the point corresponding to the desired benefit. Provided they do, Fredericson says that the benefits could last a few days or more, depending on how well the ear seed stays in place and how much pressure it applies.
Fredericson says that ear seeds pose no risks other than possible irritation from the adhesive used. However, they are not necessarily cheap. Although some brands sell kits for less than $ 10 on Amazon, others cost them at $ 50 or more each. If you want to experiment with them, you should follow Fredericson’s recommendation to see a certified acupuncturist in ear acupuncture so that they turn out to be more than expensive stick-on earrings.
Ideally, you’d ask her to apply the ear seeds a few times for you to make sure the treatment is working, he makes a note, and then shows you how to mark the points yourself. “I think if you try it out for yourself it could be a little frustrating if you haven’t done anything like this before,” he says. Acupuncture is a sophisticated practice – one that requires more than watching a TikTok on ear seeds to master.