Karna Purana: Ayurvedic Ear Oiling for Hearing & Cognitive Function

Karna Purana: Ayurvedic Ear Oiling for Hearing & Cognitive Function

In This Article

Listen Your Way to a Healthy Brain


In a study published by the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA), researchers studied nearly 2,000 seniors in an attempt to link age-related hearing loss to cognitive decline.1 Until now, there was no known link between hearing and cognitive function.

lifespa image, senior couple holding hands

After following these seniors for 11 years, the folks with hearing loss had accelerated brain atrophy and a 24% decrease in cognitive ability, suggesting if hearing is supported during the aging process, cognitive health could be maintained.

Dr. Frank Lin, lead researcher in this study, suggests when hearing is impaired, a garbled signal is sent to the brain. Neuroimaging studies show the brain is forced to work very hard to interpret these garbled signals. Dr. Lin suggests this extra effort to hear comes at the expense of other brain functions, such as memory and cognitive function.

Learn more about the link between brain atrophy (a shrinking brain) and B12 deficiencies that affect more than half the world's population.2

Age-related hearing loss can also socially isolate the elderly, as they are not able to engage in a number of conversations or social interactions.

If you want to support healthy hearing  and cognitive brain function, try these Ayurvedic strategies to support healthy hearing.

Ayurvedic Ear Care

Ayurvedic therapy for the ears is an integral part of a healthy daily routine. It is called karna purana—thoroughly massaging the ears with medicated oil.3

massage face woman

The skin is a hotbed for beneficial microbes, especially in orifices like the nose, armpits, groin, and ears.4 We know little about the microbes that live on the surface of the skin, but we suspect they play a key role in health and immunity, much like microbes in the intestinal tract.

We also know there are small bones in the inner ear, called ossicles, which vibrate when hit by soundwaves. These bones stimulate nerve endings, transmitting signals to the brain. From the Ayurvedic perspective, the ear skin and the ossicles easily dry out, compromising functionality. This is part of a vata imbalance in Ayurveda. Vata is a governing principle in nature akin to air, and, when aggravated, can dry the body out. Oil is the vata antidote for dryness in the body.

Once again, the key here, from the Ayurvedic perspective, is to care for your orifices throughout your life—and not just when they go out of whack. Karna purana (ear oiling) is meant to be a daily practice.

We recommend "Support Mood + Memory with these Ayurvedic Herbs": https://lifespa.com/benefits-differences-brahmi-gotu-kola-bacopa/

How To: Ear Oiling (Karna Purana)

tri doshic massage oil

Step 1: It’s best to use a herbalized oil. These are more moisturizing than a plain vegetable oil. I suggest LifeSpa’s Tri-Doshic Massage Oil. It is easiest to do this in the shower, although that is not required. In the morning, using a dropper, fill the ear canal with warm oil. You can do both ears at the same time.

Step 2: Close the ear flap and, using medium pressure, gently massage the ear canal by pressing on the ear flap in a circular motion. Continue this for one minute. If there is pain, stop, and have this checked by your doctor.

Enjoy 15X more nitric oxide benefits with humming (brahmari pranayama)

Step 3: Gently massage the cartilage of the ear (the whole ear) using the thumb and index finger, rubbing out any tender areas. Continue for one minute.

Step 4: Gently massage around the entire ear where the ear meets the skull. Gently massage out any tender or sore areas. Continue for one minute.

If you try karna purana, let me know how it makes you feel! It is often the parts of our body we neglect that end up hurting us down the line, so give some love to your precious ears.

We recommend "Ayurvedic Massage: Low Back Pain and Oxytocin": https://lifespa.com/ayurvedic-massage-low-back-pain-oxytocin/

Thank you for visiting LifeSpa.com, where we publish cutting-edge health information combining Ayurvedic wisdom and modern science. If you are enjoying our free content, please visit our Ayurvedic Shop on your way out and share your favorite articles and videos with your friends and family.

Dr. John


  1. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1558452 
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18779510 
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3667435/
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2216049 


37 thoughts on “Karna Purana: Ayurvedic Ear Oiling for Hearing & Cognitive Function”

    • I read that it’s best to hold your bottle under the running hot water or next to a table lamp.
      I saw doctors do that before put drops in the child’s ear – hold the droplet full of med. close to a lamp bulb.

  1. Thank you Dr. Douillard. I have been reading your emails with keen interest. They have been very useful. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  2. good morning,

    thanks for this article.
    do you have or know of a good video to show how to do the massage?

    many thanks. namaste

  3. What happens to the oil after massaging then? Thats a lot of oil in the ear, do you tip your head and let it flow out or cleanup with a Qtip?

    • Hi Carla. If you feel like the oil is too much you can always gently wipe some out with a tissue. I would advise against using Q-tips. Be well.

  4. I’ve used coconut oil on a cotton swab, very gently inserting it a little ways and then gently swirling it to make sure all sides were contacted. It wasn’t warm before it went in, but, it was immediately after inserting the swab. And, it really helped clear up an ear infection.

    Now, I know most doctors have an immediate reaction to the idea of someone inserting a swab in their ear, but, I assure you I have been doing this for decades, with no harm having occurred as a result, for the sake of keeping chronic ear infections at bay. I have IBS and related issues, and, a very strange sinus cavity, so, it all adds up to great risk for ear infections. And, I didn’t know about oil pulling most of that time!

    Anyway, i had such good results from doing this with coconut oil that I started to wonder if using oil in the ears and nostrils were Ayurvedic practices, too. Guess so, for at least one of them.

    But, how warm should the oil be? And, what happens to it? I mean, I noticed a little coconut oil dripped out, but, I didn’t exactly fill my ear canal with it. Will it generally all be absorbed? Will it run down the ear canal and need to be spit out?

    And, sorry, but, this whole blogging system gets very antsy about too many comments, too fast, so I can’t go back to the posting you made on the lymph system and ask this, for a long time and it’s late, so I will ask it here and hope you forgive me:

    I have pretty bad IBS, or that’s what the doctor called it anyway. There were doctors who thought I had a hiatal hernia and wanted to operate on me something fierce, but, one that I trusted more checked me out and said that the real problem was that my intestines swelled up so much and stayed swelled so much of the time that they pushed my stomach out of position and made it look like I had a hiatal hernia.

    I am wondering, having remembered this and considering the foiled attempts to get things really moving in the lymphatic system (as I went into too much detail about, already, in a comment that is more appropriately placed) …. could it be possible that this same problem that causes my stomach to appear as if a hiatal hernia is in progress could be pushing other things out of place to such an extent that the lymphatic system is blocked, or partially blocked, from being able to effectively drain?

    Oh, and, sorry! One more? I have read about the volume of lymph fluid to blood in the human body on more than one site and in more than one media, and there seems to be two different main ideas on this.

    One is that blood and lymph fluid are a 1.1 ratio to balance each other and any deviation from this is a problem. The other is that there is twice as much lymph fluid as blood and if we get more than that there is a problem.

    I guess, in the long run, since I have no way of measuring either, effectively, it doesn’t really matter. I mean, as in, I will feel better and get better and it will drain, or, I won’t and it won’t, regardless of how much should be around. But, still, I do like to have the facts. So, which is it? Or, is it something else?

    Thank you for your time.

  5. Will this oil treatment help with clearing eustachian tubes while flying. I have a difficult time clearing ears and the pressure on take off and landing is painful. I’m departing to Thailand in 3 weeks.

    What happens to the excess oil in the ear?

    Thank you so much for any tips.

    Liz Rubin

    • Hi Liz,
      While this might help over time, I find more effective and quick results with the nasya oil before, after and during travel.
      Be well
      Dr John

  6. I have notice that there are different ingredients in different suppliers of nasya oils.Would the use of any good quality oil (sunflower oil, coconut oil, olive or any combination of oils) be also effective. Could you add some essential oils to make your own recipe or would this be dangerous?

    • Hi Elena. There is not enough research to prove the safety or effectiveness of other oils or the addition of essential oils, traditionally non-roasted unrefined sesame oil is best. You can search for recipes online to find more information on making it yourself. Be well.

  7. Hi! My name Jaya from Malaysia. I came across this theraphy from a book. I too suffered from vetigo. This has resulted to hearing loss and ringing in the ear. How do I go about getting this oil.

  8. Hello is there concerns with this treatment if I’ve had vertigo I personally believe that the treatment may lead to healthy overall ear health and vestibular health

  9. Hi,
    I from India,i have 3 years old small girl child.she is not able to ear ,i have visited many hospitals and doctors.also tried with ear machine but my child not giving any response.

    and doctors are suggest to us (operation/Surgery is final decision.)

    Do you have any Ayurvedic Ear oil or any suggestions from you for the same?

    I am waiting for your valuable response.

    Could you please suggest to us.


  10. Hello. Is ear-oil pulling appropriate for a person who has perforated eardrums or no membrane at all due to injuries sustained from long ago?

    Thank you,

    • I would advise against the practice as it may cause irritation. The membrane would typically filter any potential irritants, protecting the ear. You could massage oil onto only the outer ear. Also, search the website for the practice of “nasya”. It may serve as a less direct way for the ear to reap some benefits of karma purana.

  11. I have a tendency to excess ear wax and it is very difficult to completely remove. Is this recommended in my case? Is ear oiling recommended in my case? Thank you.

  12. Hello. I have some conductive hearing loss on one ear due to Middle Year surgery in my teens. I am now in my 40’s, but haven’t done anything about it, coz it hasn’t really impacted my work, family life.
    Will this ear solution help ?

  13. The article recommends using Tridoshic oil for ear pulling. In the listing it says “for external use”.
    In the comments I saw another recommendation that advised using the Nasya oil.
    Which is best?


    • Hi Patricia,

      Either is great. The Nasya comes with a dropper in the bottle, so that may be more convenient.

      LifeSpa Staff


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