Hot/Cold Therapy Pillows
Grain filled pillows come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colours. Pillows are used as both cold and hot therapy.
What fabric to use?
It is advisable to use cotton as it can withstand high/freezing temperatures in a microwave or in a refrigerator. It is a good idea to make an extra pillow case out of flannel and put your hot/cold pillow in it. Doing this will promote comfort and reduce risk of damaging your skin when the pillow is too hot or too cold (totally optional but a nice thing to have).
What to fill pillows with?
There are variety of grains people use to fill their pillows with: rice, flax seeds, beens, corn (whole, not the one that you use to make popcorn) and others.
Rice – is the most popular and most inexpensive filling.
Pros: inexpensive, good heat retention, gives pillows “full” filling.
Cons: grains can break after repeated microwaving and freezing. There were some complaints from people about the smell when heated, however, I did not notice any annoying smell.
Pros: flax seeds retain heat the longest out of all grains; they do not have much smell when heated. Grains are small thus shape the best around desired area.
Cons: there can be specific smell when heated and some people do not like it.
Pros: good heat retention. Grains are large and give massage like feeling especially when applied around the neck or back.
Cons: higher cost then rice and flax seeds. It is not readily available at general stores, you need to check pet supplies stores or other feed stores.
Pros: very inexpensive, good heat retention, do not break as easy as rice.
Cons:can give out some unpleasant smell after prolonged heating/freezing.
Adding herbs and/or essential oils to promote pleasant smell and aid therapeutic effect
The most common herb that is added to pillows is lavender (insomnia relief, reduces anxiety, stress and has calming effects)
My son has bacterial/viral induced asthma. It means that mostly every time he becomes ill with bacterial or viral infection he suffers from severe asthma. The kind of asthma when puffers do not help and we end up in emergency taking masks, steroids and antibiotics. I did an extensive research and learned about some herbs that are used to treat upper respiratory tract infections:
Plantain – it can be use for variety of conditions, but in regards to respiratory tract it is used as expectorant. It has large quantities of mineral cilic and effectively treats coughs, clears up congestions and mucus.
Mullein – has very high antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to loosen mucus and reduce upper respiratory tract inflammation.
Thyme – it relieves muscle spasm and reduce coughing; it possesses antibacterial and anti-fungal properties and is used for treatment of bronchitis, whooping cough and sore throat.
I generously mixed mentioned herbs with rice and staffed the pillow with rice/herb mixture. I warm my pillow up for about 4 minutes (I made a big pillow, it is kind of bulky, but oh well, it cools down slower). When heated, herbs relieve a very pleasant smell. I put the pillow into my son’s bed and he has no choice but to inhale therapeutic fumes. I also apply warm pillow to his chest. I noticed that doing this decreases cough, chest congestion and promotes calm and restful sleep for my child.
IMPORTANT: Do not use heat on your recent injury. It will increase inflammation, swelling and pain. General rule is: if your injury happened in less than 24 hours, use apply cold compress (ice, cold pillows, put is under running cold water). After 24 hour mark you can use whatever makes you comfortable, heat or cold.
Remember: applying cold reduces blood circulation thus decreasing swelling and inflammation and pain from a recent injury. Applying heat increases circulation and promotes relaxation, decreases pain on tired, overworked, but not injured muscle.