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Experts weigh in on merits of ear candling

February 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The concept of ear candling is simple. A candle with a hollow tube is lit over the ear. Proponents claim the heat causes a vacuum that cleans out impurities. "When I've had it done to myself, I think it worked out fine. I mean it cleared up my ear I think," said Jennifer Gligorijevic, who described the candling as a pleasant experience.

But the first time entertainer Jessica Simpson tried it, it was a different story.

She didn't look very comfortable.

"There have been a lot of calls that we have been receiving since that came out," said Dr. Jennifer Derebery of the House Ear Institute.

Derebery said videos online make people curious about the practice.

"It is not enough to suck out wax, trust me," said Derebery.

Derebery is glad the Food and Drug Agency is issuing a stern consumer warning.

"The potential dangers are that you can burn the ear drums, and they don't heal on their own," warned Derebery.

The procedure is also called ear coning or thermal auricular therapy. Not only is it used to alleviate ear wax building, some people also use it to alleviate headaches, allergies and sore throats.

"The whole thing is totally made up. That's the bottom line," said Derebery. "There is false advertising with it, and it's potentially dangerous."

Derebery also said that it can even make any ear problems you have worse.

"If you have wax in the ear canal, the candle wax can push it down deeper into the ear and make a problem with the ear drum that did not exist before," warned Derebery.

Derebery also said that if you think you have a lot of wax in your ears, you could get an ear dropper and put in few drops of baby oil or olive oil in your ear.

Then when you take a shower, use a washcloth and it should come out with the water.