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Thermal-auricular therapy? Your ears are burning

I once had a patient who was seeing an alternative practitioner for ear candling.

I once had a patient who was seeing an alternative practitioner for ear candling.

Ear candling? These practitioners like to call this treatment thermal-auricular therapy, and I like to call it a nonsensical rip-off, because that's what it is.

It comprises the therapist sticking a lit candle in the patient's ear and then pretending that the candle residue left at the end of the procedure is extruded toxins, which presumably have cleansed the patient's brain, yada, yada, yada.

The patient asked what I thought of this process, and I told him, which is that it's utter crap.

So imagine my delight when I saw this story suggesting that candle-lit dinners might be a health hazard. And not just a hazard in the obvious way – in that, if you're having one with a person who isn't your other half, then you risk the person who is doing something violent to you. No. The actual problem is that these candles release harmful fumes which might provoke asthma or even lung cancer.

Presumably the same risk must apply to ear candling – maybe even more so, given the candle's proximity to the respiratory tract. Let's just hope our wacky therapists remember to mention this when they obtain ‘informed consent' from their ‘clients'.

In the meantime, any patient who still opts for thermal-auricular therapy will notice his ears are burning - partly because myself and my colleagues are discussing what a tosser his, but mainly because they are.

Copperfield Copperfield

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