In our house, there is always an herbal pillow in the freezer, one under each pillow, and an extra one in a kitchen drawer. Our children (ages 2-10) love their herbal pillows, especially the “Owie Pillow,” which is stored in the freezer.
To make soothing herbal pillows to heat or freeze, you need only three basic items: a grain, an herb, and the pillow.
1) The Grains:
Grains are used in pillows to retain heat or cold and to give the weight desired. Choose one of the following grains for your pillow:
Flax Seed: Flax seed contains linseed oil, so it retains heat and cold remarkably well. It has a wonderful “weight” to it, making it ideal for eye pillows or for muscular aches (the pressure of the weight is soothing). You’ll get only one 6″x 6″ pillow from one pound of flax (it’s that heavy!). You can find flax seed at your local health food store, but I think the prices online are better.
Buckwheat: Buckwheat has a light weight to it. It retains cold and heat, although not nearly as well as flax. We like to use buckwheat for a pillow that needs to be lightweight, or for a less expensive pillow that can be tossed around the house. Buckwheat makes great traveling pillows for the neck. You get around 16 cups of buckwheat per pound, so you can make a few pillows with that. You can purchase buckwheat online, also at the above links.
Rice: Just use any grocery store rice! Rice is inexpensive. It retains heat and cold fairly well.
Beans: Look at the grocery store for this one as well. Choose any beans or lentils. They retain heat, not through oils, but just through their density (like a brick would). Inferior to flax and buckwheat, beans still have their uses when you want to save money!
2) Herb Options:
Herbs that are good for pillows are the soothing and relaxing herbs, like chamomile, rose petals and lavender. Herbs that help with breathing are the mints or lemon grass. You can mix any combination of herbs that you like.
Some excellent blends are peppermint & chamomile (relaxing; helps with breathing and sleeping); lavender & rose petals (soothing; romantic); and lemon grass & spearmint (helps with breathing; invigorating).
3) The Pillow:
Create pillows in any shape you like, but be sure to use a “breathable” fabric, such as cotton. Herb pillows are often sold in the shape of neck pillows, baby’s tummy squares, and “log” shapes for the lower back, to mention only a few. Create your pillow in any shape. If you dislike sewing, use a tube sock or a small muslin pouch.
1. Mix your selected herbs and grains at a 2:1 ratio (eg. 2 cups grains to 1 cup herbs – feel free to change this ratio).
2. Fill the pillow with the herb/grain mixture.
3. Close the pillow securely so the herbs won’t slip out.
4. To use for cool therapy, freeze the pillow and use it when needed. For warm therapy, microwave the pillow carefully in 30-second increments until it is at the desired heat.
Most pillows retain their herbal scent for about a year.
Some Ideas for Your Herbal Pillows:
· Owie Pillow: Use any of the grains listed and keep this pillow in the freezer for kids’ “owies” (non-bleeding, of course!). This has cured MANY an “owie” in our house!
· Dream Pillow: Create a pillow with any or all of the following: chamomile, lavender, peppermint, rose petals, hops, spearmint, eucalyptus… This pillow will aid in sleeping better. Keep it under your pillow (use a 1:1 ratio on this pillow).
· Labor/New Mom Pillow: I have not been without my rice and herb pillow in all four of our babies’ births. Tim used the hospital’s microwave to warm up my pillow each time I needed its warm therapy. I placed it on my back during labor for our first child, and on my stomach after Cesearean section for the last two children.
· Headache Pillow: Shape this pillow to fit over your eyes or forehead for headaches. Warm therapy is nice for a headache.
· Travel Pillow: Create a pillow in the shape of a neck roll for traveling. Buckwheat is the best herb for this pillow, as it is lightweight and moves freely.
· Baby’s Tummy Pillow: For our colicky infants, a rice-filled square pillow has worked nicely. I warm up the pillow, place it on my arm, and place my baby upside-down with her tummy on the pillow. Or, I place the pillow in her crib and lay the baby on it. Be sure to test this pillow for the proper heat before using. The mints are excellent for babies.
Herbal pillows make wonderful gifts for baby showers, holidays, and birthdays. Be sure to create a few for yourself, too!