Extreme Beauty: Hopi ear candles
Each fortnight Extreme Beauty investigates what's new and cutting edge in the battle to remain young and beautiful. This week we risk trial by fire in our search for eternal youth and beauty.
What is it?
Specially made 'Hopi' candles are placed in the ear and then set alight. The heat of the candle creates a vacuum-effect which lifts ear wax and other debris into the cone of the candle. In short, your ear is on fire.
What does it do?
The treatment was devised to rebalance pressure between the ear, nose and throat and its devotees claim the treatment can alleviate conditions including tinnitus, sore throats, hay-fever, rhinitis and asthma.
Practitioners of 'new age' treatments have deemed it the perfect medicinal ceremony for clearing negative energies from the head and using the treatment as an 'aura restorer'. On the last point, understandably, scientific studies appear to be a bit thin on the ground.
What's the procedure?
As well as the candles, I opted for the full soul cleanser treatment which includes a body scrub, lymphatic massage, full body mask and a head and neck massage.
Once my body mask had been applied and I had been wrapped in a plastic body wrap, I lay on my side and a lit candle was inserted in my ear.
The candle (made from muslin fabric and a blend of soya and bees' wax) is then lit and, as the candle burns, warm smoke fills the ear, loosening wax and other debris. The vacuum created sucks earwax into the cloth of the candle removing it from your ear.
What does it feel like?
Listening to a naked flame only inches above your ear is quite scary. As the candle burns into your ear for about eight minutes, it goes without saying a sense of trust in the person treating you is essential.
Listening to it sizzle and feeling the heat in your ear is a very strange sensation. Once you’re done in one ear, you then turn yourself over for the other.
The body scrub and the lymphatic massage follow.
The benefits - real or imagined?
Some experts advise against the practice of using a naked flame near the ear as they say there are less drastic ways to get rid of earwax and clear the sinuses.
Proponents say the treatment is a safe, simple and relaxing remedy for many ailments including relief for sufferers of migraines.
Apart from the thought of having your ears set on fire, the treatment is pretty much painfree. In truth, the stress release comes when the candles are taken away. The big losers are the Hopi people.
Er, the Hopi who?
A native American tribe in north Arizona who have been wrongly credited with giving 'Hopi Candles' their name. Proponents often claim that the candles are an ancient treatment used by the tribe for initiation ceremonies, warding-off evil spirits and the promotion of peace and well-being.
The Hopi tribe say this is utter rubbish and that the candles are a gross breach of 'Hopi' copyright - a court case is pending.
As treatments go, this one was pretty scary, although once the fear of being left alone to burn alive subsided, it was all quite relaxing. Afterward my sinuses felt much clearer and as the massage and body wrap were divine, stress levels were reduced considerably. Quite enjoyable.
Treatments available from Heaven Face and Body, Dublin and Ashbourne. Two hour Soul Cleanser treatment €125, one hour Head Cleanser treatment €65. For more information see heavenfaceandbody.com