So many of us have tried just about everything to lose weight, from cutting calories, carbs and sugar to adding protein, fiber and exercise. These strategies definitely work, but they take a lot of time, effort and energy! So when we heard about ear seeds for weight loss, we were all ears! Read on to learn how people are using these tiny little gems called ear seeds for weight loss, blue moods, pain and more — and discover how they can work for you.
What are ear seeds?
Ear seeds are a DIY form of acupuncture — without needles. “Ear seeds are little pellets you place on the ear with a tiny adhesive bandage material,” explains Maegan N. Hodge, L.Ac., Owner and Principal Acupuncturist at Centered: Richmond Acupuncture & Wellness in Richmond, VA. “The idea is that it places pressure on areas that correspond with various processes in the body.”
The pellets, or tiny metal beads, are placed on six precise points on the outer ear that each correspond to a different energy pathway, or meridian, in the body — similar to the way an acupuncturist will place needles in specific spots depending on the ailment you’re looking to treat.
The science supporting ear seeds and weight loss
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), you can access and influence many of the body’s systems and processes, including hormones, neurotransmitters and the immune system, by placing these ear seeds in specific spots on the ear.
“The ear is directly or indirectly connected with 12 meridians and all organs,” explains ZhanXiang Wang, MD, PhD, L.Ac., a professor of Clinical Sciences at the National University of Health Sciences College of Professional Studies Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine program in Lombard, IL. Access to these crucial meridians via the ear makes ear seeding a powerful tool in weight loss. “In TCM, obesity is considered as dampness accumulated in the body due to Qi deficiency,” he explains. Qi is the life force or energy that flows through your body; in order to be healthy, according to TCM, you need to have balanced Qi. “Stimulating the ear can restore the balance between Qi and blood and organ function to expel the dampness from body,” says Dr. Wang. The result? Weight loss.
The proof: In a study from Japan, subjects on a reduced-calorie diet who used ear seeds for six months lost 4 inches around their waists, ate less, reduced their unhealthy abdominal fat and significantly lowered their BMI — effects on par with or better than traditional ear acupuncture! According to the researchers, ear seeds can help ease food cravings, leading to weight loss. “Some of the best benefits have to do with cravings for food and alcohol,” affirms Hodge. “There is an ear protocol called NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) that has been well studied and is used in many addiction programs — you can extend that use to more run-of-the-mill cravings as well.”
Indeed, a study published in Behavioral Sciences found that this ear protocol, when used as part of an addiction recovery program, was associated with a higher quality of life, improved energy, less depression and decreased substance abuse at both three and six months after treatment was complete. In another study, 62% of subjects who used ear seeds reported that it reduced their appetite.
How to use ear seeds for weight loss
You can see an acupuncturist to apply ear seeds, but you can also do it yourself at home. “Ear seeds can be a great entry experience for someone who might be curious about traditional health therapies and their benefits,” Hodge says. “The cost of entry is low, and the chance of harm is near zero.”
You can pick up a kit online. Cindy Geyer, MD, an integrative medicine specialist at The Ultrawellness Center in Lenox, MA, recommends the easy-to-use kits at EarSeeds.com (Buy at EarSeeds for $24.95). “You can keep the seeds in for up to a week, take a day off, then apply a new set,” she says. The kits come with easy-to-follow charts that tell you exactly where to apply the ear seeds depending on the benefits you are looking for, plus enough self-adhesive seeds for multiple applications.
If you’re interested in trying ear seeds for weight loss, experts advise using them alongside other diet or lifestyle changes. “I have found that various traditional Eastern therapies can be good adjunctive therapies when it comes to weight loss, but just like anything else it isn’t some miracle cure for issues with weight,” says Hodge. “Acupuncture, ear seeds and especially, in my experience, traditional Chinese herbs, when used correctly, can all help with food cravings.”
4 more health benefits of ear seeds
Beyond the perks for curbing cravings and promoting weight loss, ear seeds have other health-promoting effects.
1. Ear seeds calm migraines
Since some of the acupressure points on the ear connect to the brain and inflammatory systems, ear seeds can help reduce the severity of migraine symptoms. Indeed, a trial published in Neurological Sciences found that ear seeding can reduce migraine pain in as little as five minutes. And if you’re curious about acupuncture, acupressure’s cousin, click through to see how acupuncture can ease tension headaches.
2. Ear seeds boost mood
Ear seeds have been found to be an effective treatment against depression and blue moods. In a 2021 study in the journal Geriatric Nursing, participants who used ear seeds for just seven days experienced a 17% drop in depression scores and a 39% decrease after 14 days of using them.
3. Ear seeds ease chronic pain
Chronic pain, especially back pain, affects millions of people—and ear seeds can help. A study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicinefound that people with chronic low back pain who used ear seeds for four weeks had a 75% reduction in overall pain intensity and a 42% improvement in mobility.
4. Ear seeds reduce stress
“Ear seeds can also serve as a mindfulness tool,” notes Hodge. “They can help you to be more conscious about whatever health problem you are working on, which can in turn help you to make better choices with your health with improved awareness.”
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
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