Can Wool Ease Pain?
Some of us are already true believers. But I've recently discovered—thanks to Foundation Flocker and longtime friend Sue—that not one but two scientific studies offer compelling evidence that wool clothing and bedding can make our bodies feel better.
The first study focused on the effect of wool underwear on those with chronic non-specific low back pain. The second focused on the use of wool as a nonpharmacological method of treatment for fibromyalgia. Both concluded the same thing: wool eases pain.
It's worth noting that both studies were conducted in Turkey through Ataturk University's Faculty of Health Science Nursing Department. Turkey's history of alternative therapies dates back more than 1,000 years, to the Ottoman and Seljuk empires. So it doesn't surprise me that they are open to, and curious about, what role wool can play in healing.
Study 1: Wool and Lower Back Pain
This study focused on the effect of wool underwear in patients with chronic non-specific low back pain. We don't know anything about the specific underwear used, how much of the body it covered, or whether it contained a small percentage of any other fibers, but let's continue.
The study took 48 patients with chronic non-specific low back pain and divided them randomly into two groups of 24. One group got to wear woolen underwear for two months. We don't know what the other group did. Everyone was assessed before the trial and at the end of the eight weeks, using the visual analogue pain scale, Oswestry Disability Index and Schober test measurements (I had to Google those last two, but basically they're specific methods for measuring lower back pain).
Guess what? Those in the treatment group reported significant improvements in their conditions. The study concluded, "Patients with chronic non-specific low back pain who wore wool underwear experienced significant improvements in pain intensity, disability, and lower back flexibility."
Study 2: Wool and Fibromyalgia
This study offers us a little more detail. Its goal was to measure the therapeutic impact of wool clothes and bedding as treatment for fibromyalgia.
As with the previous study, a total of 50 patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia (as defined by the American College of Rheumatology) were randomly divided into control and treatment groups. Those in the treatment group wore woolen underwear (here we do know that the underwear covered the body from the shoulders to the thighs) and slept in a bed with a woolen mattress pad, quilt, and pillow for six weeks.
The patients in the control group, we don't know what they did. Maybe they just sat around sweating and uncomfortable in polyester clothes?
Everyone was assessed before the trial and at the end of the sixth week. And those in the treatment group reported "significant improvements in their conditions including a reduction in pain levels, tender point counts, and all scores of the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (p <or= 0.001)."
The study concluded that the use of woolen underwear and woolen bedding was effective in reducing the symptoms of patients suffering from fibromyalgia, and that nurses treating patients with fibromyalgia should consider wool when selecting clothes and sleeping materials for their patients.
Obviously, more studies need to be done. But until then, the next time your body aches, feel free to wrap yourself in wool from head to toe. If anyone comments, just send them to these studies and then ask them, "Where's your wool?"