The benefits of switching from an off-gassing synthetic pillow to buckwheat are well-documented by now: The crunchy hulls of this pseudo-cereal are densely packed into a surprisingly heavy pillow that conforms to each new owner’s unique contours, providing the kind of sleep dreams are made of. Plus, the pillows last longer than their conventional cousins (with diligent care), and when the hulls do start to flatten out with time, it’s easy to replace them. But there’s more to buckwheat than comfort. Every part of this highly nutritional, fast-growing plant has something to offer, and it is typically cultivated without herbicides or pesticides, eliminating environmental harm.
It’s no wonder buckwheat has such a long, illustrious history. According to the Whole Grains Council, “Buckwheat has been providing essential nutrients, vitamins, energy, and fiber to humanity for approximately 8,000 years. Its first starring role as a cultivated crop appears circa 4000 B.C. in the Balkan region of Europe, but its thought to have truly taken hold inland in Southeast Asia and from there spread to Central Asia, Tibet, the Middle East, and Europe.” They add that the Japanese emperor Gensho reportedly ordered the entire country to cultivate buckwheat in 722 to prepare for a protracted dry spell.
Ideally suited to the kind of soil most plants would reject, this smother crop helps retain water in the soil, prevents erosion, and keeps weeds at bay, which in turn makes it less necessary to use pesticides. After the flowers yield buckwheat groats, the stalks can be transformed into straw for livestock, according to the Whole Grains Council, and the rest of the plant can be tilled for further water retention. Buckwheat also “likes” northern latitudes and high altitudes, hence its popularity in Russia, China and Kazakhstan. The hulls that go into pillows are simply the outer shell of the inner groat, which provides a slew of nutritional benefits for most people.
The gluten free groats provide a rich source of protein, although the Whole Grain Council warns that digestibility may be low for some people. For others, according to Purdue University, “USDA-ARS analyses indicate that the grain has an amino acid composition nutritionally superior to all cereals, including oats. Buckwheat protein is particularly rich (6%) in the limiting amino acid lysine.” It is also rich in iron, zinc and selenium, reports New World Encyclopedia, as well as antioxidants.
Given its multiple benefits, of which the above are just a few examples, it’s not hard to get behind a buckwheat pillow. And it really will provide superior sleep. According to Hullo, because buckwheat doesn’t collapse or “bottom out” like down or memory foam, their pillow provides excellent support (no more stiff neck). Also, in addition to being malleable, the pillow stays cool throughout the night since it doesn’t retain body heat.
Still, the soft rustling sound, the weight and texture do take some getting used to, which is why Hullo offers a 60-day money back guarantee for their durable, breathable pillows made with a 100 percent organic cotton twill case filled with carefully-sourced buckwheat hulls. And if the filling isn’t just right, you can pour out some of the hulls until it is thanks to an elegant, zipped design.
Hullo comes in three sizes, ranging in price from $59 to $149. And if that sounds steep, all you have to do is check out the glowing reviews people have left on the company’s website. Customer JP wrote, “My body feels so much better. My head feels so much better. I sleep through the night and I have energy in the morning. In short: I love, love, love this pillow.”