For thousands and thousands of years, herbs have been used by man for a variety of purposes. Herbs were pounded, ground, pressed, boiled for their extracts, and saturated in order to use them for medicine. Some aromatic herbs were especially valued because of their relaxing effects. The scent of these herbs were “captured” in pieces of cloth and sweet bags, later called “herbal pillows” in order to improve sleep and generally purify the home with their fragrance.
Herbal Pillows – Early History
Perhaps the earliest known civilization who made great use of herbs was the ancient Egyptians. These people were very ingenious and they found many plants that have therapeutic effects and health benefits. Pharoahs and priests used herbal pillows to add tranquility to the night and make them sleep better. Linen cloths filled with fragrant seeds and soaked in perfumes sewn together were the first herbal pillows ever used by man.
Later in the Middle Ages, anxious mothers used herbal pillows to lure their active offspring into tranquil sleep. They placed dill (Anthuem graveolens) in small pillows which they fashioned themselves in order to promote sleep in their children. Incidentally, the name “dill” comes from the Norse word “dilla”, which means “to lull.”
Another popular herb used in herbal pillows was agrimony. It is believed to be soporific, inducing sleep with its relaxing scent. This effect of the agrimony is immortalized in an old English text saying that “if it is leyed under a mann’s head, he shal sleepyn as he were dead; He shal never drede ne wakyn till fro under his head it be taken.”
Herbal pillows were also used to relieve headaches or as treatment for depression. During these times, flowers of therapeutic herbs were crushed or sewn into pillows and placed at the head of the bed. Sometimes, they were also placed between the linens to spread the scent more generously in the bedroom. Herbal pillows were especially used not as mere fanciful decorations but as a necessity. Their scent masked the consequences of poor sanitary conditions and made the surrounding air fresher.
How to make herbal pillows
You can create your own herbal pillow by sewing dried herbs into a square of cloth of bag. To make sure that the aroma would last, use a fixative. Fixatives help dried herbs retain their fragrance. Examples of fixatives are ambergris, civet, and musk.
The herbs used in many herbal pillows are those used in making potpourri. You can also make your own addition to make the scent more interesting. Spices, such as cinnamon, can make your herbal pillow more interesting; plus, it acts as a fixative also.
TOTAL WORD COUNT – 442
KEYWORDS “Herbal Pillow” – 13 (density = 2.9%)