There are about 100 so called “Therapeutic Pillows” on the market but what are the therapeutic effects and what types can cause harm?  Let me start with an explanation of the term “Therapeutic”.  The word can be used to describe a therapeutic massage, a therapeutic mattress or bed, a therapeutic pillow and just about anything that is related to helping improve the health of the individual.  The word comes from the Greek word “Therapeutikos” (from therapeuein meaning “to attend” or “to treat”).    According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, it is usually “relating to the treatment of disease or disorders by remedial agents or methods”.  So it is certainly within the realm of possibilities that a pillow can improve one’s health in a variety of ways to be classified as a “remedial agent” right?  Makes sense, especially if you look at sleep as the cornerstone to health and the spine as the foundation of our body’s support and structure of which houses our all-important nervous system.  A good pillow could also be described as something to help in the “treatment of disease” as certainly adding the proper support to the spine should lessen the progression of spinal degeneration and other spinal disorders such as spondylosis, DJD, arthritis and numerous other very common disease processes. To capture the term “need” as I mentioned in the title, one must think about  what he or she is looking for -and how the particular shape, size, density or configuration is going to improve their body and create the desired effect. In the vast majority of cases, if one is looking at a “cervical pillow” also known as a neck pillow, you are looking for support and comfort. Alterativley, if you are looking for a therapeutic sciatica pillow or therapeutic coccyx pillow, you will be looking for the pillow to relieve pressure.  But in discussing the word “therapeutic,”  It is vastly clear that many, many pillows on the market overstate their claims and have no back-up evidence or studies for what they are advertising.  Just because they have a medical term (that perhaps you have heard or have been diagnosed) in the title of their pillow or under the laundry list of possible therapeutic effects absolutely does not mean that they have data that can support their claim.  Therefore and unfortunately, the “buyer beware” clause must be implemented continually when searching for the perfect pillow for you.

In a neck pillow, the support and comfort come primarily from the contour of the support system and type of foam that the pillow is made from.  There needs to be a very good and well thought out blend of material in conjuntion with the right contour or someone may have a negative reaction such as increased pain, discomfort, pressure, headaches, or simply a loss of sleep.  If the pillow has the wrong contour and/or has a foam that is made from way to common toxic chemicals,  is too hard, creates heat,   has allergens or can harbor microbes or dust mites, the person potentially could have a negative reactions.  There is something (usually referred to in pharmaceutic applications) called the “Therapeutic Index” which according to Wikipedia is basically a ratio that compares the concentration of a drug in the blood which has a positive therapeutic effect to the ratio that has a toxic or deleterious effect.  A similar index could be adopted in the pillow world as some pillows try and do too much, cut corners,  simply are too hard, have too much angulation, too much curve for the support and are simply uncomfortable. Any of the above can disturb your nights’ sleep. So when choosing a pillow, decide upon your need and carefully base your decision upon your own research, your Chiropractic or Medical Physician’s opinion and what makes good sense to you.  My first and best recommendation is to support the neck properly and second is to lift and support your head in the proper height depending upon your age and condition.  Then of course, my third suggestion is something I always talk about and that is -to choose a pillow that is made of non-toxic foam that is certified to not off-gas any harmful materials, be dustmite resistant, antimicrobial, hypoallergenic, and not contain any metals, toxins or flame retardants. If you would like to see and read more about a pillow that has all of the above positive factors, please discover the patented design of the pillow that I have spent over 14 years designing and refining to meet the needs of the people throughout the world, PILLO1, what most people that use it call it the world’s best “Therapeutic Pillow”.

Dr. Ray Hall

Dr. Raymond Hall, the renowned DC, inventor, author, lecturer, television personality and sleep expert who has been honored by the International Association of Healthcare Providers as the "TOP CHIROPRACTOR IN CALIFORNIA" for 2015, 2016 and 2017. Dr Hall currently practices at Pacific Coast Sports Medicine in West Los Angeles and lives in Malibu, CA.