Sweet dreams and silkworm poo


There are some things about China that mystify me, and this is one of them.

Putting silkworm poo (excrementum Bombycis Mori) into pillows is definitely high on my list of odd things.   I have discovered that many Chinese think that babies and the elderly should have these special pillows which will help them sleep well and also aid various medical conditions.

Few pillows here seem to be filled with feathers as is common in the UK and Europe, most are filled with latex or silk fibre, and also buckwheat hulls.

Pillows made with buckwheat hulls are extremely popular in Japan and the US as well as in China, they are hypo-allergenic and don’t harbour dust mites. But in China they usually come with extra ingredients. Camomile, wild Chrysanthamum flowers, dried Mint, Honeysuckle flowers, something called pueriaroot are just some of the many things that are put into these pillows but they always  include  SILKWORM POO!  This is gathered from June to August every year, dried in the sun and then cleaned (?).

These pillows are marketed specifically for babies (over 3 months) and the elderly, and there are many manufacturers.  Here is the marketing spiel from one of them:

‘Silkworm excrement pillow improves eyesight and promotes brainpower. It also can dispel heat, remove toxin and cool blood heat. With the help of our silkworm excrement pillow, your baby would have a sweeter sleep. Our silkworm excrement pillow is an excellent gift for the aged to relieve rheumatic pains. Our silkworm excrement pillow is especially appreciated by those with hypertension and tinnitus.’

I’ve been buying some new baby gifts recently, but somehow I felt that silkworm poo pillows would not appeal to the mothers of Alia-Maria, Isaac and Rachel.

About herschelian

Recently moved to Beijing from London - its all new to me! Trying to learn Chinese, and what makes this city tick.
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8 Responses to Sweet dreams and silkworm poo

  1. John Rollason says:

    I definitely need a silkworm poo pillow! However, don’t think Great Wall will be on this year. MRI scan revealed disc pressing on nerve, so off road totally for at least 4 weeks. Please ask shop if silkworm poo will speed an old guy’s recovery!

    • Teuchter says:

      I noticed the buckwheat pillows but didn’t come across the silkworm poo. Not being able to read Mandarin protects one from many wee surprises. I wonder if Beijing IKEA sells that kind?

      We’re still using the silk duvet I bought in BJ. It’s very light, cool in the summer and warm enough in the winter and, best of all, hypoallergenic because dustmites don’t survive in the silk fibres.

      Most of the mattresses in China seem to be on the hard side of firm – which suited me tolerably well.

  2. herschelian says:

    John, I’m so sorry about your back problem – it’s a bu**er. Never mind, the Great Wall isn’t going anywhere and so next year you can tackle it. As to the Silkworm poo, I am extremely dubious as to its theraputic properties – but the silkworm farmers think they are onto a winner and who am I to disabuse them!

    Teuchter – as far as I know IKEA Beijing does not stock Silkworm poo pillows – just their regular Swedish ones which never fit British pillowcases! I first came across the SWpillows at a branch of the Chinese supermarket chain Jinkelong. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me to take a photo of the label which said ‘Best Quality Silkworm Excrement’. I agree that silk filled duvets are gorgeous and I love our ‘firm’ mattress. I am thinking of investing in a Buckwheat hull neck pillow, but without all the other gubbins added.

  3. Russ says:

    We recently were in China and bought two. We have been sleeping like babies. They work!!!

  4. BFL says:

    Why not, as we eat bee vomit (honey) and love it! Oddly, also most people wouldn’t think of drinking Mare’s milk but really, how is that much different from a cow. Most people also don’t know that one of the three common goat variety’s milk actually tastes exactly like cow’s milk but then who would buy that, as it has to taste strong to be healthy!

  5. kathleen says:

    i love these pillows but washed the silk poo packets before I knew what it was. I would like to replace them. Is there anywhere I can order the silk worm poo inserts

    • herschelian says:

      To be honest Kathleen I don’t know, but I will have a little rummage around the Chinese internet and see if I can find a supplier for you – but don’t hold your breath!

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