Castor Oil Packs
Castor oil packs have been said to help improve liver detoxification naturally, support uterine and ovarian health, improve lymphatic circulation and reduce inflammation.
The idea is to keep castor oil on a piece of cloth on the skin for at least an hour with a heat source to stimulate lymph and liver function. Unlike some “detox” methods, this is not said to have any negative side effects and the there are many accounts of people who noticed immediate better sleep, more energy and clearing of skin symptoms.
There aren’t any conclusive studies on the use of castor oil packs externally, but a long history of traditional use in many cultures. There is some evidence that it can have a suppressive effect on tumors and a positive effect on arthritis when used externally. Castor oil packs also provide time of quiet relaxation, which also has health benefits, so I thought they were worth a try.
Castor oil packs have traditionally been used on various body parts:
- On the right side of the abdomen or the whole abdomen, which is thought to help support the liver and digestive system
- On strained joints or muscles (not as a substitute for medical care but to speed healing of minor injuries that don’t need medical attention)
- On the lower abdomen to help with menstrual pain and difficulties
Even for external use, I’d consult with a doctor or naturopath to make sure that this natural remedy is ok for you. It should not be used if pregnant or struggling with a medical condition. I also test any new oil (or any substance) on a small part of my arm before using on a larger area of the body.
How to Do a Castor Oil Pack
Castor oil packs are simple to do at home and I like them because they require me to be still and relax and read a book for at least an hour. They can be messy, but with proper preparation are not.
- High-quality castor oil (hexane free) – I’ve gotten from Radiant life catalogs and if you search on Amazon you should be able to find it.
- Unbleached and dye free wool or cotton flannel – can be reused up to 30 times
- Wrap around pack (plastic free) or plastic wrap but not my favorite.
- Heating pad
- Glass container with lid – I use a quart size mason jar (for storing the oil soaked flannel between uses)
- FYI castor oil does stain
You can also find castor oil pack kits online that will include everything you need.
How to Do A Castor Oil Pack
- Cut a large piece of cotton flannel and fold into thirds to make three layers. My original piece was 20 inches by 10 inches and when folded it was roughly 7×10 but yours could be larger or smaller, depending on where you are planning to place it.
- Thoroughly soak (but not completely saturate) the flannel in castor oil. The easies way I found to do this was to carefully fold the flannel and place in a quart size mason jar. I then added castor oil about a tablespoon at a time (every 20 minutes or so) to give it time to saturate. I also gently shook the jar between adding more oil so that the oil could reach all parts of the cloth. Ideally, this should be done the day before to give it time to evenly soak. I save the jar since this is where I keep the flannel between uses (it can be used about 30 times).
Using a Castor Oil Pack:
- Carefully remove and unfold the castor oil soaked cloth.
- While lying on an old towel or sheet, place the cloth on the desired body part.
- Cover with plastic (like a plastic trash bag), and place the heating pack on top of this. A hot water bottle, electric heating pad can be used, but hot water bottles and rice packs may need to be reheated several times.
- Lie on back with feet elevated (I typically lie on the floor and rest my feet on the couch), and relax for 30-60 minutes.
- Use this time to practice deep breathing, read a book, meditate or pray (or whatever you find relaxing).
- After the desired time, remove the pack and return the flannel to the glass container. Store in fridge.
- Use a natural soap or a mix of baking soda and water to remove any castor oil left on the skin.
- Relax and rest. Make sure to drink enough water and stay hydrated after doing this.
Other ways to use castor oil:
From Japanese Healing Arts:
Castor oil is used externally in three ways. First, castor oil may be applied directly to the skin for dryness, rashes, hives, fungus, infections, boils, furuncles, liver spots (age spots), warts, benign skin cancers, etc. Also for infection or fungus in the finger or toe nails. Apply castor oil directly and gently rub into the area for a minute or two. Repeat this application 2 or 3 times a day for a few weeks or up to two months in the case of stubborn warts.
Second, the application of castor oil packs can bring significant relief for any kind of trauma, sprain or degenerative joint disorder. In the case of a painful joint, apply a pack and secure it with an ace bandage. Keep the pack on the body continuously and reapply castor oil every 24 hours. For back pain, lay on a castor oil pack for 90 minutes every day for 5 days. (See instructions below.) In severe cases, you may have to repeat this course 3 times over a period of 3 weeks.
Third, castor oil packs are used for cleansing and regulating the internal organs. For disorders relating to the digestion, intestines, liver, lungs or reproductive organs a series of castor oil packs on the abdomen for 90 minutes a day can have remarkable effects.
Have you ever used Castor oil? I’ll be sharing some of my other favorite uses soon, but please share yours below!