To help the "wealthy and wise" sleep more soundly, mattresses were stuffed with herbs, sweet grass and even roses, and soothing herbal combinations were sewn into special sleep pillows. But medicinal pillows can do more than encourage sleep. Perhaps the best known use of a medicinal pillow is the spelt pillow. It was recommended by the medieval herbalist Hildegard von Bingen to ease neck and shoulder pain in the twelth century and is still used today. Early herbalists also favored hay-flower and fern pillows, and traditional medicine has long called for pillows stuffed with cherry pits, hops and chamomile. Because of the essential oils in their filling, many pillows can alleviate pain, inflammation and rheumatic symptoms. You can buy or make your won medicinal pillows.
Fill a cotton pouch with spelt, a grain available at health food stores, and sew or tie it closed. Warm the pillow in an oven set on low. The pillow will retain heat for up to 3 hrs. when it begins to cool, shake the pillow to bring remaining hot grain up to the surface. Use the pillow for neck pain and shoulder tension. It will also help to relieve severe menstrual cramps.
Pillows with a stuffing of grain or other seeds retain beat well and are used to alleviate circulatory disorders, back and neck pain and headaches. Their warming qualities also relieve toothaches and menstrual cramps. When herb pillows are warmed, they release the essential oils responsible for many of the particular herb's healing properties. In addition, the small air pockets in the filling ensure that the pillow will conform precisely to the shape of your body.
The best herbs and grains for pillows
Heb pillows are often filled with flowers or seeds, dill, thyme, mugwort, chamomile flowers, lavender and hops. Thyme contains the mucolytic agent thymol; chamomile flowers contain an anti inflammatory essential oil that relieves pain. Pillows with mugwort, lavender and chamomile are said to induce vivid dreams. The apparent reason that spelt in a pillow helps to relieve pain is the high proportion upto 90% in some varieties of silicic acid in the grain.
Grain pillows for earaches and sinus pain
Just before bedtime, heat a small pillow filled (but not overstuffed) with wheat grains or coarse sea salt in the oven until warm. Lie down on your side, with the painful ear against the pillow. The long lasting warmth promotes circulation and soothes the pain of middle ear and sinus infections.
Hops pillows for sleeplessness
Fill a cotton pillow with hops. You don't have to warm it; its odor is fairly strong and releases the calming active ingredients, lupulin and humulin. Add lavender to the hops to cut and sweeten the odor. Place this pillow under your regular pillow to encourage sleepiness.
A little Lore : Traditionally, it was believed that if you kept a sprig of rosemary under your pillow as you slept, you would be protected from harm by evil spirits.
A remedy for pain of all kinds: rheumatism, sinus infections, middle ear infections, bladder complaints, sleeplessness and poorly healing wounds.
A pillow stuffed with chamomile can help to promote the healing of wounds. Fill a small pillowcase with chamomile flowers, which have anti-inflammatory properties, and heat it in a warm oven. Soak a cotton towel in hot water. Wring it out and place this towel on top of the pillow. Wrap with a dry terry cloth towel, and then place the heated pillow on the affected area.
For bronchitis and coughing
A thyme pillow can loosen mucus and facilitate expectoration. To make this pillow, wash a generous number of fresh thyme sprigs and pat dry with paper towels. While the sprigs are still damp, fill a small or medium or medium sized pillowcase. Heat in a warm oven and then place it over the rib cage. Cover with a blanket. You can reheat and use this pillow one more time.
For colic in children
A pillow filled with a blend or readily available herbs can help soothe colic and quiet restlessness. Make a pillow with a 5x10 in cloth, folded in half and sewn. Combine ¼ cup each of lavender flowers, hops, lemon balm leaves, dill seeds and chamomile flowers. Stuff the herbal mixture into the pillowcase, then sew up the opening. Place next to or under your child's regular pillow.