First let’s talk about the medicinal value that castor oil offers and then it’ll be clear why castor oil packs have stood the test of time as a natural remedy. The late medical intuitive Edgar Cayce, who documented thousands of clinical observations, found that castor oil when applied topically would increase the vital streams of lymph while removing toxic substances from the area–supporting your body’s ability to cleanse and heal…naturally.
Castor oil is a thick and viscous oil that has been used in many healing traditions from Egypt, Africa, India, Greece, Persia and China. It literally has thousands of years of history in treating the body via the skin and was even regarded as the “Palm of Christ” during the Middle Ages.
Unlike most oils, castor has a unusual fatty acid called ricinoleic acid. It’s is an omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid and makes about 90% of castor oil. Ricinoleic acid has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and pain-alleviating properties, making it a great oil for home remedies.
Despite how heavy and thick it feels with the initial application, it’s easily absorbed by the skin. Once absorbed, it stimulates fluid movement of lymph and blood in the body, and can be taken up by the internal organs. Castor oil packs can reduce pain and inflammation, increase liver function (via glutathione), promote a healthy gut, encourage elimination, ease menstrual cramps and increase immune function.
If you’ve heard of castor oil packs or googled it, you were probably overwhelmed with the instructions. Did you stop reading it after seeing castor drenched flannel cloths in glass jars and wrapping yourself in plastic wrap (by the way, not a good idea)? Me too. It sounds like a big mess and a lot of work. No, thanks.
It wasn’t until a few teachers from herbal school shared other accessible ways to explore this remedy, that I started to do them more consistently. After a few rounds, I was hooked. Castor oil packs have been a big part of healing my gut and skin. I've been doing them for years now, and continue to do them for overall health and well being. They are incredibly relaxing to do and they work.
Below are the two ways I like to do my castor oil packs. I would also encourage you to check out my Instagram friend Dr. Marisol’s video on Castor Oil. And for those of you who want a kit that puts it all together for you, Marisol has done that too! Check these out!
The No Fuss Castor Oil Packs
Start by putting 2-3 (depending on targeted surface area) tablespoons directly on the skin around the liver (around right rib cage and underneath towards hipbone and you'll be covered).
*I also rub it into my abdomen and breasts. Sometimes I focus on one area and other times I put it all over. I’ve even rubbed castor oil into my legs and used a gua-sha to break up tightness in the legs. Know that you can use castor oil packs where needed to reduce inflammation and pain, and to move stagnation.* See contraindications below.
2. Cover & Heat
I throw on an old flannel to cover the oil, but you could also drape a thick cotton towel on top of the castor oil. The warmth is an essential part of keeping things moving and driving the castor into the body. Place either a heating pad or hot water bottle on top of the area covered via flannel shirt or towel. Keep on for 60-90 minutes. You could sleep with it on if you find it comforting. The oil will absorb into your skin so no need to wash it off.
Castor oil packs work best with continued use. You can use daily 3-4 weekly for the first 4-6 weeks then do weekly for maintenance. Alternatively, you can use as needed.
Option 2 is an additional step for my bath lovers.
Apply castor oil as described above then get into a hot (as tolerable) bath for 20+ minutes.
Once you’ve soaked for a while, simply get out and pat your skin dry. Add a little more castor oil, if you’ve wiped it off then follow with above instructions.
These are the two ways I recommend doing castor oil packs and found them to be both relaxing and enjoyable. There’s no need to wrap yourself in plastic or stuff castor soaked flannels patches in jars in the fridge!
Don't forget to stay hydrated and get a good night's rest.
Contraindications: Do not use with pregnancy, bleeding, ulcers or uterine growths. Check with your healthcare professional with any issues or concerns.