What are ear seeds? Everything you need to know about the health-focused treatment

Ear seeds aren't just for aesthetics—they're an auriculotherapy meant to improve your health

A guest visits the ear seeds station by Yinova at POPSUGAR's first-ever Sugar Chalet Winter Wonderland In Bryant Park
(Image credit: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty)

Ear piercings can elevate our style, but ear seeds take things a step further. While the small studs might look chic and trendy, they actually offer much more—and could potentially be the answer to your common health woes. 

We'll walk you through the ear-seeding wellness trend to judge whether or not this method is something you should consider.

What are ear seeds?

No, those studs aren't there simply for aesthetic purposes. Ear seeds are actually a form of acupressure, and specific pressure points are targeted for a variety of ailments. 

"Ear seeds are part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that dates back thousands of years," says Dr. Shari Auth. "Initially, ear seeds were actual seeds of the Vaccaria plant (native to Eurasia and commonly known as the 'prairie carnation') that were used to apply pressure to the ear on specific acupoints, the same way that acupuncture needles stimulate healing at acupoints on the body."

Those itty bitty seeds are strategically placed, but they just so happen to look pretty neat simultaneously—the ultimate look-good, feel-good bling, Dr. Shari Auth says.

Perhaps a satisfying revelation: needles are a no-go for this treatment. (Yes, what you heard was a sigh of relief!)

Why should I consider ear seeds?

People oftentimes cannot find cures for particular health-related issues, but ear seeding offers a holistic approach to alleviating the pain you're experiencing throughout your body. A few problems ear seeding can assist with includes but is not limited to:

  • Headaches and migraines
  • Infertility 
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Fatigue
  • Boosting digestion
  • Supporting immunity
  • Improving focus

Effects of ear seeds typically last about a week or so. 

Where should I place my ear seeds?

According to the Atlantic School of Reflexology, there are over 500 nerve endings in the ear. You can find a variety of reflex points on the ear that coincide with various parts of your body, from your toes and feet to your shoulders and spine and even your teeth. (Who would've thunk it?) 

What exactly has been giving you trouble? Bad stomach? Stiff neck? Have a look at the chart below and then pinpoint (no pun intended) where you think your acupuncturist should place your ear seeds based on your ailments. 

What is an ear seed kit?

For those who are interested in going the DIY route, there are ear seed kits available with all of the tools you need—studs, tweezers, and ear charts to uncover your problem areas. Some kits are meant to hone in on a specific treatment, be it depression, anxiety, etc, and they'll typically cost you around $20.

However, you should always see a professional if you do not feel comfortable applying ear seeds on your own. This is especially true if you are new to the practice and aren't sure how the pressure points will respond to the ear seeds. When in doubt, always consult a doctor or a professional before making an attempt on your own.

Anything to look out for with ear seeds?

Like an ear piercing, you'll want to avoid getting your ear seeds soaked in water, so it might be best to stay on land during that summer pool party. (Sorry, folks.) Be sure to avoid ear muffs or accessories that can potentially cover your ears or cause friction. 

There are other risks associated with ear seeds. 

"If there are any metal allergies or if there is trauma to the skin from the beads, there can be redness, inflammation, infection, or keloid scar formation," NYC-based dermatologist Dr. Doris Day tells us. "If you have any itching, pain or swelling consider removing the beads immediately and seeing a dermatologist for evaluation and treatment."

Yes, these babies are tiny, but it's believed that they can have a big impact if done correctly. Once again, consult the experts before attempting anything yourself!

Danielle Valente
Danielle Valente

Danielle is a writer for My Imperfect Life, where she particularly enjoys covering lifestyle and entertainment news. She was previously the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. When she's not working, you can find her reading a good book and enjoying a cup of coffee. Follow her @dvwrites.