Hypoallergenic Pillows – Are Buckwheat Hulls Hypoallergenic?
November 21, 2012 • By Ryan
Manufacturers often market buckwheat pillows as “hypoallergenic pillows.” How much truth is there in this claim?
55% of the U.S. population tests positive to one or more allergens. Among the most common: down feathers. Those suffering a reaction to this allergen are often referred to buckwheat pillows due to their supposed hypoallergenic qualities. There is now evidence that some people may actually be allergic to buckwheat flour. At least one case of a buckwheat allergy caused by a pillow has been reported in scientific literature.
Buckwheat Pillows Aren’t Exactly Hypoallergenic Pillows
A small portion of the population is allergic to buckwheat flour-not the hulls themselves. Improperly cleaned buckwheat hulls can retain trace amounts of flower which will trigger an allergic reaction in some instances. Thus, manufacturer’s claims that their pillows are hypoallergenic should be taken with a grain of salt. Most manufacturers are primarily interested with profit margins and purchase the cheapest available buckwheat hulls, which are most prone to containing four residue and other impurities like dirt and dust.
Buckwheat is primarily utilized for the production of flour; the separation and cleaning of the hulls is of lesser consideration. Only recently have North American mills been able to exploit the increased demand for buckwheat hulls. Some of these mills are outfitted with equipment that leaves behind a product prone to impurities. One method of extracting the buckwheat results in the partial crushing of the hulls into flat pieces, not only destroying their malleable quality, but also leaving behind excessive dust and flour residue behind. Vacuum cleaning cannot remove all impurities when the source contains so much fine material.
Organic Pillows Aren’t Necessarily Hypoallergenic Pillows
Don’t be fooled into believing that “organic” means that the hulls are somehow of premium quality, or ideal for use in a hypoallergenic pillow. Some of the cheapest buckwheat hulls available today are certified organic. Unfortunately these are often mulch-grade hulls which aren’t ideal to have under your head every night. Buckwheat grows well without requiring any fertilizers or pesticides so it is most often very close to the definition of organic without being certified organic. In other words, there isn’t a lot of difference between organic and non-organic buckwheat hulls. The best hulls are clean, completely intact, and malleable.
The evidence available today suggests that a buckwheat pillow with quality fill is a good option for someone suffering from allergies. Just be aware that manufacturers claiming that their product is a true 100% hypoallergenic pillow are misinformed.