What Exactly Are Ear Seeds? A Doctor Shares Tips for At-Home Use

Our favorite anxiety-releasing accessory.

By Langa Chinyoka

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What does “wellness” actually mean? It’s a term with a lot of ambiguity—and a highly marketed industry where pretty packaging can obscure unsubstantiated claims and false promises. And while it’s important to approach every wellness claims with a healthy dose of skepticism, not everything is snake oil. Much of what we think of as wellness trends have been around for decades—even centuries—and are important cultural practices rooted in specific communities (hello, tamanu oil and slicked-back buns). But the fluff is eventually cycled out—and what works, stays. That’s why, when you look up “what are ear seeds,” prepare to discover a whole lot of substantiated evidence backing up their efficacy.

Ancient wellness rituals transcend the fickleness of the industry, and many of the remedies found in traditional Chinese medicine endure today. But every few seasons, traditional practices will resurface. Think: the current fascination with gua sha and facial sculpting tools. And now, the beauty zeitgeist has its sights set on acupressure. From acupressure mats to ear seeds, today we’re diving into what’s more than just a wellness trend.

Featured image from our interview with Brandy Joy Smith by Michelle Nash.

Babba Rivera wearing lavender sweater dress.
Image by Belathée Photography

Everything You Need to Know About Ear Seeds, According to an Expert

Acupressure is a an ancient remedy for stress and stagnancy. It can relieve your body of pain, tension, poor digestion, headaches, menstrual cramps, insomnia, and even anxiety. The results vary from person to person. But the potential benefits could be life changing. Especially when delivered through wearable, non-invasive devices like ear seeds.

But what are ear seeds? You might have seen them on your wellness bestie, worn like a badge of honor like cupping bruises or a post-facial flush. They’re little pallets arranged on the ear to aid in acupressure without having to lie on a “bed of nails” (though the viral acupressure mat is worth trying). With many doctors on board, you’ll even find that plenty of acupressure products are HSA eligible!

I spoke with Dr. James Walker, a clinical doctor and contracted medical advisor at, about the benefits of ear seeds and what to look for if you’re interested in trying them yourself.

Black woman with long braids wearing yellow robe lighting palo santo.
Image by Michelle Nash

What are ear seeds?

Ear seeds, also known as auricular seeds or ear acupressure seeds, are small seeds or metal pellets that are placed on specific points of the outer ear. They are often used in auriculotherapy, which is a form of alternative medicine based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

Some studies suggest positive effects for certain conditions, such as pain management or reducing anxiety, but more rigorous research is needed to draw definitive conclusions.

It’s important to note that ear seeds should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have any specific health concerns, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate course of action.

There are two main types of ear seeds:

  • Vaccaria Seeds. These are tiny seeds from the Vaccaria plant. They are the most commonly used type of ear seeds.
  • Metal Pellets. Some ear seeds are made of metal, such as stainless steel or gold-plated magnets. These provide a stronger stimulation than Vaccaria seeds.
Brunette woman wearing button-down and jeans sitting on cream couch in modern living room.
Image by Belathée Photography

The Benefits of Ear Seeds

Advocates of ear seeds claim various benefits, including:

  • Stress relief and relaxation
  • Pain management, such as for headaches, back pain, or joint pain
  • Support for smoking cessation or weight loss
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Reduction of anxiety or depression symptoms
  • Enhanced energy and overall well-being

Tips for Application

  1. Locate the specific points on the outer ear corresponding to the desired area or condition.
  2. Clean the ear and the skin around the chosen points with alcohol wipes.
  3. Use tweezers to apply the ear seeds gently onto the points. Apply enough pressure to keep them in place.
  4. Massage the seeds gently for a few seconds to stimulate the points.

You can apply ear seeds yourself or with the help of a friend or family member. The process is relatively simple and can be done at home. However, if you have any concerns or specific health conditions, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional or an acupuncturist before using.

Possible Side Effects

Ear seeds are generally considered safe, with minimal side effects. However, some potential risks include:

  • Skin irritation or allergic reactions to the adhesive or the material of the seeds.
  • Discomfort or tenderness at the site of application.
  • Infection if the ear or the skin is not adequately cleaned before applying the seeds.
  • Incorrect placement may lead to ineffective results or discomfort.
Brunette woman pulling back hair to show multiple ear seeds.
Image by Michelle Nash

The Best Ear Seeds to Try at Home

When done right, ear seeds can provide full-body relaxation and relief from physical pain and mental stress. To get started, these are the best ear seeds to try at home.

Mount Lai Stainless Steel Reflexology Acupressure Ear Seeds

Mount Lai prides itself on making AAPI beauty rituals accessible, like these ear seeds. Wear multiple of these stainless steel ear seeds at once for maximum, targeted effect.

  • Made of: Stainless steel
  • Comes with: 60 ear seeds

WTHN Ear Seeds

Get the benefits of a WTHN acupuncture session at home.

  • Made of: Gold; Swarovski Crystals
  • Comes with: 40 ear seeds; Gold tweezers; 100% latex-free medical grade adhesive

Uncommon Goods Acupressure Ear Seed Kit

This kit includes both a set of gold and crystal ear seeds and can be worn for 3-5 days without sacrificing your aesthetic. Follow the included diagram and apply using the included gold tweezers to target specific acupressure spots.

  • Made of: Gold; Swarovski Crystals
  • Comes with: 40 ear seeds, Gold tweezers

Vie Healing The Foundation Kit

This comprehensive kit comes with a body map to guide your application according to your wellness goals.

  • Made of: 24K Gold
  • Comes with: 20 ear seeds; Ear seed spoon

Kanjo Acupressure Ear Seeds

Gently massage these stainless steel ear seeds twice a day to boost their effect and bolster your healing.

  • Made of: Stainless steel
  • Comes with: 40 Ear seeds; Tweezers