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As awareness of the dangers of prescription drugs grows, Americans are looking for safer methods of healing. In an attempt to appeal to health-conscious consumers, many merchants call their products “Natural”, but calling something “Natural” doesn’t guarantee that it’s safe.

Mother Nature actually makes many dangerous drugs, and the fact that they come from a plant growing in a field doesn’t automatically make them any safer than drugs that are creations of a chemistry lab.

One powerful example of a natural substance that can cause severe personal injuries and even wrongful deaths is the stimulant Ephedra. It’s a product that occurs naturally in the plant Ephedra sinica, and it was a major contributor to the death of baseball player Steve Belcher. And urushiol oil is an “All Natural” product, but it just happens to be the irritating substance in poison ivy.

Like ephedra, Ear Candling also has the word Natural attached to it, and Ear Candling can cause painful personal injuries. Ear Candling is a process in which a person places a burning fabric cone inside the ear, and the heat supposedly creates suction that pulls earwax and toxins out of the ear canal. Some proponents claim that the process will heal everything from sinus infections to headaches, but simple tests have shown that ear candles do nothing of benefit, and they often do real harm to a user’s inner ear.

Wally’s Natural Products in Auburn, California makes and sells ear candles, but the company says that the candles do not remove earwax and that the process merely feels good and is relaxing:

“In reality, absolutely no earwax is removed from your ear while the procedure is occurring. So awaken your senses, sit back, relax and let go of your stress, a soothing smoke is released into the outer ear canal. Maintain a healthy well being, while re-aligning your natural balance through regular use.”

So, at best ear candling may feel good for a few minutes. At worst, the heat and dripping wax can cause personal injuries.

One user after seeing a warning from the FDA on the dangers of ear candles, reports this painful experience:

“Ten years ago, I was writing a magazine story on “alternative” treatments when someone introduced me to ear candles. I did a course of treatment with them, and they did appear to work. After I would use a candle, the bottom of the cone would have a lot of junk in it. It looked like earwax, but after investigating the whole process, I realized that it was really just the wax from the candle.

“As a result of putting burning candles in my ear, I suffered an ear injury. The heat burned the insides of my ears, and they “wept”, for at least 2 weeks. Fluid drained constantly from my ears, and I was very uncomfortable.

“I was fortunate that my ears fully healed, and I didn’t suffer any hearing loss. However, I haven’t used the candles again, and I have realized that applying heat to the ear canal is not a smart thing to do.

“The bigger message, I believe, is that calling something ‘natural’ doesn’t mean that it’s safe. Botox, for example, is a naturally occurring bacterium that’s the most deadly neurotoxin on earth, and it causes severe personal injuries and wrongful deaths. Hemlock is a natural substance, but as Socrates proved, it’s certainly not good for anyone’s health.”

The ear canal is very sensitive, and putting a burning candle in there is definitely a foolish idea. Calling ear candles Natural doesn’t make them any less dangerous, and the people who market them as a cure for infections and headaches are misleading their customers.

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Richard Alexander