DIY Acupuncture Exists (and It’s Not as Scary as It Sounds) Introducing “ear seeds.”

“You haven’t tried ear seeds before?” asked the certified acupuncturist at YO1 Wellness Center while she poked my body full of needles hitting various precious points. Nope, never tried them, I replied, but what I should have said more honestly was, “I’ve never even heard of them before.” It’s possible this is the first time you’re hearing of them too, but not for long, as they’re about to be everywhere in 2019. 

Let’s back up though: What are ear seeds, how do they work, and is the treatment even worth your time? The seeds are more like tiny metal beads made of steel, silver, gold, or ionic magnets. They’ve got an adhesive element that makes them stick on for up to five days. The seeds are placed on selected acupuncture points to stimulate them. It’s a practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine, in which different areas of the ear correspond to different organs and systems within our body. It’s the ideology of Microsystems, which are used in reflexology to map the hands and feet but also exist on the ear and face too.

“The way the ear seeds work is through the pressure point system,” says Mona Dan, an herbalist, acupuncturist, and founder of Beverly Hills acupuncture clinic Vie Healing. The seeds then put pressure on the points of the ears, which send signals to the reflex centers of the brain, and the brain then sends the proper signals down the corresponding body regions. “They assist with a wide range of ailments: stress, anxiety, PMS, migraines, headaches, digestion, sleep, and so much more,” says Dan. “When the nervous system is able to relax, the proper blood flow will assist in all these ailments.” 

Even though it’s an ancient practice, there hasn’t been a ton of research about it. But a study in 2012 found ear seeds were proven to dramatically reduce back pain severity for chronic lower back pain sufferers by 50 percent for some.

It’s also quite common to pair seeds with acupuncture sessions; some practitioners will use seeds after a session to extend the benefits of a treatment, which is how I came to find out about them. At the end of my treatment, my acupuncturist pulled out the seeds and assured me I’d love them. They’re miniature, maybe the size of a pinhead, and you will feel them—but they shouldn’t be painful. I was focusing on sleep issues and anxiety, so she pinned them in places that should continue to address both and showed me exactly where I should apply them. 

Applying the seeds are quite easy: stick them on firmly, ensure that they’re fully taped in, and you’ll feel the seeds working pretty immediately, with a rush of blood flowing to the area. While you can’t actually do it wrong, there is a map to follow to select for specific ailments.

ILLUSTRATION BY MEGHAN MCNEER

The seeds will last about three to five days in the ear, but even if you can only stick them on for one day, you’ll notice the effects. By day three, the soreness of the areas near the seeds began to overwhelm me, and I took them off. The acupuncturist said it’s perfectly normal and to take them off as soon as they become overwhelming. 

All in all, I found the possibility of a decrease in stress, anxiety, and sleep issues worth hearing (sorry, had to) the idea out. While I didn’t feel dramatic changes, I felt a gentle buzz throughout the first few days and unexplainably more focus. “We really want to encourage people to take advantage of this huge healing area of the body,” says Dan. “We’ve neglected our ears for too long.”

Purchasing ear seeds is thankfully easy now too. With the increase in popularity, you can find basic ear seeds everywhere. 

COURTESY OF AMAZON

On Amazon, there is a huge variety. This option by Dragon Acupuncture comes at a great price—$20 for 600 seeds. 

COURTESY OF VIE HEALING

If you want to kick it up a notch, Vie Healing sells 24-karat gold seeds for $34, which are said to help energize the body, plus they look a lot more appealing.

mona dan