EcoWalk. Health Benefits of Natural Organic Fabrics (IV): Organic Wool Fabric
Talking about organic wool fabric, no synthetic fiber can guarantee the same health benefits and comfort as wool provides. Natural wool helps to alleviate sleeping difficulties, respiratory illness and skin conditions. It may be called a medical miracle fiber because of its hypo-allergenic, anti-bacterial and thermoregulating properties. Also, organic wool fiber naturally protects from cold or heat, absorbs moist and keeps skin dry. Merino wool became a necessity to nurseries and parents who have pre-matured babies.
Merino wool comes from Merino sheep. Merino strain is bread particularly for its wool and was first bred in Spain. Merino wool is exceptionally soft and is highly valued for its luxurious squishiness to skin.
Temperature Regulator & Moist Absorber
Most widely known benefit of wool is its ability to regulate temperature. Wool has an ability to trap more dead air than any other fiber. Dead air provides a perfect shield against the cold. At the same time wool acts as a natural cooling barrier by evaporating moisture in hot conditions and in cold it acts as an excellent insulator to keep warmth. Wool is capable to absorb moisture within the curly structure its fiber. Actually, even if wool is soaking wet, its fibers do great work on keeping moisture away and making skin feel dry. This natural fiberhas an amazing capacity not only to absorb but also to evaporate large quantities of moisture vapour. That is why wool can absorb and hold up to 30% of its dry weight.
Today, wool is valued by extreme sports lovers such as climbers, skiers, sailors. Woolen gear provides warmth, flexibility and protection. This natural fiber is extremely breathable and helps prevent the skin from becoming clammy and uncomfortable.
Wool is a medical miracle fiber because it is hypo-allergenic, anti-bacterial and the best option for natural thermoregulation.
Miracle Fiber for Premature Babies & Breast Protection
Premature or low weight babies have not developed the ability to regulate their own body temperature, in this case wool plays a crucial role in keeping little ones warm.
Moreover, according to study premature infants who were nursed and slept on lambs-wool gained weight at a greater rate than ones who used conventional cotton sheets. This surprising occurrence can be explained by the fact that lambs-wool has a calming effect which is known to lower metabolic activities. Pure lambs-wool comforts newborns by reducing stress and restless movement. This fiber promotes so needed peaceful sleep. Researchers found that babies placed directly on or wrapped in lambs-wool blanket become less active, sleep deeper and grow faster. It is also not a secret that hospitals use wool pads for premature babies to stimulate them and at the same time relax them. Wool fiber bedding is highly recommended to unwell and sensitive babies as well.
For centuries Scandinavian midwives advised mothers to protect their breasts with woolen pads. Once again all appreciation goes to wools abilities to regulate moisture and temperature. As breast skin is kept dry by allowing it to breathe painful nipples heal more rapidly. Also, wool is known to prevent blocked ducts and mastitis. It is usually advised to cover the entire breast with wool pad. Women like wool pads as they do not show through clothes and provide a flattering look. No doubt, wool is a perfect natural breast protectant.
Organic Wool is Antibacterial & Odor Resistant
As wool effectively controls moisture and keeps skin dry and clean. Bacteria that causes odor is unable to grow in dry conditions. Interesting to note that odor molecules from sweat are actually trapped in wools fiber and are released during washing process only. This makes wool a perfect fabric to wear during intense and long activity without worrying about odor. For example, woolen socks can be worn for an extensive period of time without washing them often. Woolen socks will keep feet dry, warm, comfortable and ventilated. Wool fibers are covered with protective hypoallergenic and naturally antimicrobial wax called lanolin. Lanolin contains fatty acids that make wool resistant to bacteria, water, dust and dirt. Most but not the last, wool is extremely breathable.
Even though wool shows optimum absorbency results, at the same time it is naturally water resistant too because of its ability to repel moisture vapour.
In this case wool fabric gains another benefit of being resistant to mold, mildew and rot. Nevertheless, studies have shown that the presence of excess water is crucial to antibacterial properties of wool.
Furthermore, microscopic bristles on the wool fibers make unfriendly conditions for dust mites to thrive and they stay away from it.
Organic wool is a natural anti-allergen. It is antistatic and does not attract dust and dirt. Persons suffering from asthma or eczema are advised to use wool duvets and pillows. On the other hand, the myth of wool being a common allergen can be explained. Some people tend to be allergic to aforementioned lanolin and not to natural wool fiber itself. Worth mentioning that lanolin used in hand creams, lip balms and moisturizers is actually natural oil removed from fiber.
It can be said that wool contributes to a healthier environment by participating in removal of allergens and pollutants from the air. Harmful particles are locked in wool fibres and are released during washing only.
Believe it or not wool fiber behaves much similar to human skin. Wool fiber is a complex structure and is made of interlocking protein molecules known as keratin. Our skin and hair contain the same protein. Individual wool fibers have the ability to be bent, flexed and stretched in any direction without damage. It is a very strong fiber.
In 1984 Richard Dickson, Ph.D., in his study concluded that woolen underlay in bedding reduced body movements during sleep time and induced a rested sleep. Another study has shown improvement in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep because wool fiber has temperature regulating, comforting and breathability features. Furthermore, individuals wearing wool sleepwear slept remarkably longer and faster without frequent wakeups in hot weather conditions. In sleep research the University of Sidney, Australia pointed out that wool sleep apparel and bedding expands sleep time, eases sleep onset and improves sleep quality in general. Sleeping in wool bedding is also known to lower heart rate.
Natural wool bedding, toppers or sleepwear helps individuals suffering from fibromyalgia. Due to its natural properties wool fiber is bouncy and flexible, it softly interacts with human skin and works as natural support system. In 2009, Atatürk University, Turkey study revealed a health benefit of wool for people are affected by of fibromyalgia. Again, it was confirmed that wearing woolen underwear or sleeping on woolen bedding helps to reduce symptoms and pain of this illness.
Wool is especially beneficial to people with chronic pain. Patients with chronic low back pain wore woolen underwear and reported significant improvement not only in pain intensity, lower back flexibility and reliefs muscle aches. It is also advised to use wool mattress pads and toppers as they give a relief from painful pressure points while you sleep. People suffering from arthritis and rheumatism usually outline their joy a support provided by softness and springiness of wool fiber. For years hospitals have been using wool to boost patient’s relaxation and avoid bedsores.
Queensland Institute of Dermatology (QID) in Australia researched the role of fine Merino wool knitwear in treatment of some types of skin conditions and found out that wool reduces suffering from chronic dermatitis. Wool provides therapeutic warmth which works together with body and temporarily relief pain and stiffness by relaxing tense and aching muscles as person falls asleep.
UV Protection & Flame Resistance
This natural fiber evolved over thousands of years to protect sheep against nature elements. Another important property of wool is that it provides a natural protection against harmful rays of the sun. To be more precise, wool has the ability to absorb UV before it reaches and contacts with skin. It has been marked that Merino wool has up to 30+ UPF.
Moreover, organic wool is naturally fire resistant due to its ability to retain moisture within its fibers. The moist inside makes wool antistatic as well. This feature is especially important in safety areas where it’s necessary to prevent sparking. Being flame retardant natural wool is valued in wide range of outdoor activities.
It is advised to use natural wool topper on synthetic mattress that was treated with chemical fire retardants.