Hops have been used for centuries to brew beers and in infusions for medicinal purposes, however hops have many other uses as you can see in the following recipe for creating your own dream pillow. Herb Society of America members had a hands-on project last week where folks could make their own dream pillows and it was very popular. After a long day of gardening or a hard day at work, relax in a hot tub and then hop into bed with a dream pillow and off to dreamland!
SWEET DREAMS: HOW TO MAKE A DREAM PILLOW WITH HOPS
When making a dream pillow, I look to our friend and expert on the subject, Jim Long, who authored Making Herbal Dream Pillows (https://www.longcreekherbs.com/proddetail.php?prod=024). Jim uses hops in three of his blends: Restful Sleep, Stress-Reducing and Peaceful Slumber. Check out his book for a variety of herbal blends to encourage all kinds of dreams.
When making blends, I use my own homegrown and dried herbs with the aromatherapy or medicinal virtues that I am looking for, as well as herbs that I like and might be comforting or uplifting for me to round out the blend. For instance, I quite enjoy the smell and taste of lemon balm and have employed it for many years to relax and as a sleep herb, both externally and internally. So I include it in my dream pillow, along with hops, which are known for their calming and sedative effect, as well as lavender, which is balancing and soothing. Lavender is very fragrant and works well with others in blends, so it will support and balance the hops and balm. Another option is chamomile, which is pleasant and relaxing in small amounts; however this should not be added to the blend if a person is allergic to the ragweed family.
One does not have to make a special bag for dream pillows-although they can be made from pretty fabrics-just use a muslin drawstring bag. They are sold in craft shops, health food stores or online; look for the 3- by 5-inch size. Generally, the little cotton muslin bags are free of dye and sizing; however, if they have any odor you might want to wash them. Always wash and dry fabric (I prefer cotton to synthetic) before using to remove sizing, dye, or any other manufacturer’s residue.
I use about 3 tablespoons of dried herb blend per muslin bag, which can be opened after use, herbs discarded and then refilled. Long Creek Herbs makes 5- by 5-inch dream pillow and mixes 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs with a little cotton or fiberfill material, which adds a pleasant softness.
To make the blend, I use the following amount for one bag. It is easy to mix up a batch for 4 or more bags at once-and you’ll have gifts to share.
1 tablespoon freshly dried hop flowers
1 tablespoon freshly dried lemon balm leaves
1/2 tablespoon freshly dried lavender
1/2 tablespoon freshly dried chamomile (optional)
Toss the herbs together in a bowl to combine and stuff them into the herb bag, then tie closed. Slip the dream pillow inside your pillowcase and let the aromatherapy take you to dreamland.
When the herbs lose their fragrance and the pillow no longer has a strong scent, out with the old herbs and in with the new.
This recipe is adapted from my article “Hops: from Pint to Pillow, Bitters, Bath and Beyond” in Hops, Herb of the Year 2018 published by the IHA.