Do Ear Seeds Really Do What They Claim?

They may look cute and trendy, but ear seeds are the latest spin-off of a centuries-old treatment and are actually meant to support the needs of patients who suffer from a range of complaints, from the physical to physiological. The use of ear seeds spring from the belief that there are hundreds of acupuncture points in the ear and which links to every organ, hormone and system in the body. To access these points, practitioners and therapists use seeds instead of needles to apply pressure to specific points in the ear, and which are related to a patient's condition.

Two types of seeds are used in the practice: seeds made with metal or crystal beads which are held in place with clear tape that is latex-free, and vaccaria seeds, which naturopaths say are used for people who might have a sensitivity to metals. The seeds are attached to the ear with a tan colored latex tape. Interestingly enough, vaccaria seeds are actually used in traditional acupuncture treatments that involve the liver and stomach, and the treatment is directed at the patient's ear (via Acupuncture Today).

Ear seeds aren't used in traditional acupuncture

While it has its roots in acupuncture, auriculotherapy isn't a direct offspring of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The method was discovered and first practiced in Europe during the 1950s, when a French doctor discovered that acupuncture was able to help manage pain levels in a patient. They then created a system of links between the human anatomy and different points in the ear. Today some auriculotherapy practitioners say that there are two types of practice, the Chinese (which was developed by TCM practitioners in the late 20th century), and the French (via Align New York).

That's all great — but do they work? In a 2014 review of the system published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers called the health benefits of ear seeds limited, and possibly overstated. But that shouldn't put you off if you want to give ear seeds a shot, particularly if you want to try a less invasive type of acupuncture (via Health).