Castor Oil packs are a traditional health practice rooted in traditional medicine. There is evidence of them originating in India, but also evidence of the technique being used in ancient Egypt. During the 1930s psychic and intuitive healer Edgar Cayce popularised the practice enough to make it common amongst western society. Since then, people all over the world have been using Castor Oil packs to treat a wide variety of health issues.
There is anecdotal evidence for castor oil packs providing treatment of gastrointestinal issues, menstrual or hormonal issues (such as ovarian cysts, irregularity or painfulness), acne, arthritis, lymphedema and chronic infection.
If you are interested in trying castor oil packs for yourself, you may be wondering how to do it and where to get the supplies. In this blog post, we will guide you through the steps of making and using castor oil packs, as well as share some of the benefits and precautions of this natural remedy.
What are castor oil packs?
Castor oil packs are a simple way of topically applying castor oil, usually over an area that needs healing or detoxification. This allows it to absorb through your skin and into tissue. Castor oil is a thick, yellowish oil that comes from the seeds of the castor plant. It has been used for centuries as a laxative, a skin moisturizer, a wound healer, and an anti-inflammatory agent. The desirable component in Castor Oil is ricinoleic acid. When ingested, the small intestine releases the ricinoleic acid from the castor oil, which mildly irritates mucosa in the intestines, leading to a laxative effect.
Castor oil packs are made by soaking a piece of cloth (such as flannel, cotton, or wool) in warm castor oil and then placing it over the desired area. The cloth is then covered with plastic wrap or a towel to prevent the oil from staining your clothes or bedding. You can also use a hot water bottle or a heating pad to increase the warmth and penetration of the oil.
Some of the common areas where castor oil packs are applied are:
- The abdomen, to improve digestion, relieve constipation, reduce bloating, ease menstrual cramps, shrink fibroids and cysts, and detoxify the liver and intestines.
- The lower back, to relieve pain, inflammation, and spasms in the muscles and nerves.
- The chest, to reduce congestion, cough, and inflammation in the lungs and bronchial tubes.
- The thyroid gland, to support its function and reduce nodules and cysts.
- The breasts, to improve lymphatic drainage, reduce tenderness, and shrink cysts.
What are the benefits of castor oil packs?
According to various (often anecdotal) sources, castor oil packs have been shown to:
- Alleviate bone and muscle pain
- Reduce or eliminate muscle spasms or cramping
- Relax muscles and organs to support healing
- Increase circulation
- Support healthy lymph movement
- Promote detoxification
- Support cleansing & rejuvenation of the liver and intestines
There is also some anecdotal evidence for the treatment of gastrointestinal issues, menstrual or hormonal issues (such as ovarian cysts, irregularity or painfulness), acne, arthritis, lymphedema and chronic infection.
However, there are few studies that concern the practice of using castor oil packs, so the scientific evidence for their effectiveness is limited. The consensus seems to be that there is not enough evidence to conclusively say that castor oil packs work, but there are some results that indicate potential positive impacts, as well as lots of anecdotal evidence from within the alternative health practices community.
How to make and use castor oil packs?
To make your own castor oil pack, you will need:
- Castor oil (preferably organic and hexane-free)
- A piece of cloth (such as flannel, cotton, or wool) large enough to cover the area you want to treat
- A second towel to prevent stains
- A hot water bottle or heat pack
- A glass jar with a lid
The steps are:
- Wash and dry the cloth thoroughly.
- Pour some castor oil into the glass jar and warm it up slightly in a pot of hot water or in the microwave.
- Soak the cloth in the warm castor oil until it is saturated but not dripping.
- Wring out the excess oil and fold the cloth into a size that fits over the area you want to treat.
- Place the cloth over the area and be careful of drips! Castor oil can easily stain fabrics and materials, and possibly even leather. You may like to cover the area with your old towel, or lay on the towel to catch drips.
- Place the hot water bottle or heating pad over the cloth to keep it warm and slightly compress the area.
- Relax for 30 to 60 minutes while the castor oil pack does its work. This is an excellent opportunity to engage in some mindfulness practices which will supplement the restorative effects of the castor oil pack. We recommend reading, meditating or even having a nap!
- Remove the cloth and wipe off any excess oil from your skin with a damp cloth.
- Store the used cloth in the glass jar you used for heating with some more castor oil for future use. You can reuse the same cloth and oil up to 30 times before discarding it.
You can use castor oil packs once a day or every other day for several weeks or months depending on your condition and goals. You can also alternate between different areas of your body if you have more than one issue to address.
Check out our castor oil pack collection to shop a complete kit, or individual components if you only need some materials.
What are some precautions of using castor oil packs?
Castor oil packs are generally safe and well-tolerated by most people, but there are some situations where you should avoid them or consult your doctor before using them:
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding
- If you have an allergy or sensitivity to castor oil
- If you have an open wound or infection on your skin
- If you have a fever or acute inflammation
- If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood thinners
- If you have a history of intestinal obstruction or appendicitis
- If you have a history of kidney or liver disease
- If you have a history of cancer or are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy
You should also avoid applying castor oil packs over your eyes, mouth, nose, genitals, or any other sensitive areas. You should also avoid eating or drinking anything containing castor oil, as it can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and dehydration.
Castor oil packs are a natural and inexpensive way of improving your health and well-being. They can help you with various issues ranging from pain and inflammation to digestion and detoxification. However, they are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment, so always consult your doctor before using them if you have any doubts or concerns.
We hope this blog post has given you some useful information on castor oil packs and how to use them. Remember, for Australia's most trustworthy source of organic castor oil, toxin free heat packs and other eco-friendly goodies, look no further than Biome.
For more DIY recipes and activities, check out our blog posts!