Stress and Ear Seeds: Tackle Your Anxiety Head-On
While many of us are already familiar with the different aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) such as acupressure and acupuncture, few know about the powerful properties of ear seeds. Because stress is at an all-time high, we could all use something that gives us any kind of relief. Despite its name, ear seeding isn't exclusively for the ear itself — instead, your ears serve as the channels where the seeds are placed to apply pressure to specific acupoints.
Joanna Ellner, former beauty director, and Chinese Medicine student, explains that ear seeds are a relatively cheap way to offset some problems of modern life. Seeds from the Vaccaria plant, also known as prairie carnation, have been used in parts of Eurasia. In TCM, the ear plays an important role, serving as the microsystem of the whole body, pointing us towards acupressure points that help our mind and body. “Ear seeds are a form of auricular acupressure; extremely powerful tools used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to access specific points on the ear that correlate to various organs and systems within the body,” Ellner elaborates.
How Do Ear Seeds Work For Stress?
Ear seeds have been observed to minimize stress levels. A Brazilian study entitled "Auriculotherapy to reduce anxiety and pain in nursing professionals: a randomized clinical trial" demonstrated that auricular acupuncture with both ear seeds and semi-permanent needles were able to decrease stress and discomfort in the nursing staff of a hospital, helping to improve their overall quality of life.
There are also theories about how ear seeds seem to calm us. One of these points to our vagus nerve as the reason for the success of auricular acupuncture. This nerve in particular is responsible for the psychological functions of the body such as digestion, breathing, heart rate, speech, and more. It is thought that when ear seeds are placed on the ears, it triggers the vagus nerve’s response.
Can Ear Seeds Help Stress?
There are independent studies that show how ear seeds can have a powerful impact. It is worth noting that there is an increasing number of patients that are turning away from more conventional solutions after being dissatisfied with results. Apart from the Chinese Medicine Theory, ear seeds also have the same principles as the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques of snapping an elastic against your wrist. This allows us to transfer difficult emotions in the mind to be felt in the body, providing much-needed relief at the moment.
From a biomedical standpoint, the physicality of applying fixed pressure to an ear seed triggers a chain reaction in the neurological pathways. This then connects to the brain, and has been shown to boost immunity, mental clarity and reduce physical pain. There are also studies that found the application and subsequent pressure that’s been applied to ear seeds can support the release of endorphins. This action promotes a sense of well-being.
Try Ear Seeds for Your Stress
Today, ear seeds can be made from the Vaccaria seeds and small metal beads to provide a gentle, yet effective stimulation of acupressure on the ear. They come with an adhesive on the back so they can be placed on the ear and stay unassisted. Overall, they look similar to having multiple piercings around the ear — you can even get seeds that look like Swarovski crystals to add a beautiful statement piece to your ears. If you're curious to try ear seeds, speak to a licensed acupuncturist and ask about their services or you can even ask about DIY kits for you to take home.
Can I Apply Ear Seeds Myself?
Out of all the TCM practices, seeding is by far the easiest to do without the help of a professional. There are no needles involved, and only takes a bit of instruction to learn where to place the seeds. However, because there are dozens of acupoints in the ear, it’s best to know your objectives and the exact spots where you can strategically place your ear seeds. Another bonus is that you can use multiple ear seeds at once. As an example, you can use a seed to calm the mind and another seed to balance yourself, which will work together to provide you with a better result.
If you're ready to try out the seeds for yourself, we recommend waiting 24-48 hours after applying your first seed before using another. In this way, you won't desensitize that acupoint. You must also make sure that the area is clean and dry so your seed will stick properly. Lastly, while the seeds may last for a week at a time, it’s best if you remove the seeds after three to five days if they don't fall off on their own.
DIY Instructions for Using Ear Seeds
Here are some of our favorite ear-seeding treatment combinations, however, if you still feel like you need help with placement, you can always watch video tutorials on YouTube.
For Stress and Better Sleep
Start by placing ear seeds on Point Zero and Shen Men (stress point) to balance your body and to relax. It's highly recommended pairing ear seeds with sound therapy, essential oils, etc. to get the best results. To give the seeds a boost, gently press on them whenever you feel stressed or when you are trying to fall asleep.