What they are and why you should consider using them
A few days ago I asked you on my stories if you’d be interested in buying a castor oil pack (a bottle of castor oil along with a cotton flannel cloth), and about 70% of people said they didn’t know what castor oil packs would be used for.
Have you heard of them?
I’m often guilty of assuming everyone else knows what I know/can read my mind, but this is something I had a feeling many people wouldn’t be familiar with, so I want to share with you why I am such a fan of castor oil packs.
It’s useful for a wide range of things and it’s not difficult to do. Better yet, unlike many of the remedies I dispense this isn’t something unpleasant tasting that you have to drink.
I am often recommending Castor Oil packs to my patients, but most people have never heard of it. Some people have used it before for various beauty treatments, like applying it to their eyelashes or hair to enhance growth. But when I’m recommending it to a patient, the concept is often quite strange to people so it can take them a good deal of time to wrap their head around it… because you’re going to be wrapping the castor oil around yourself.
Okay so if you’re not applying castor oil to your hair, what else are you using it for? Do you drink it? Well, you potentially can – it’s something that was regularly recommended to help all the kids in the family to go to the toilet regularly. It does have powerful laxative actions when taken internally. But it’s unpleasant-tasting indeed.
I asked my Mum to make some flannel cloths for me as part of Castor Oil packs, and her knowledge of castor oil was being given it as a young girl to promote regular bowel motions. However, while I’m a big fan of regular laxation, this isn’t why I recommend Castor Oil.
Why would you consider using castor oil packs?
I recommend castor oil to be used as a topical application (a pack/poultice) to support your lymphatic system, detoxification, and to help break up scar tissue, adhesions and congestion.
By using castor oil topically in a pack that you apply onto your skin it can be helpful for a variety of issues such as:
- Swollen lymph glands
- Ovarian cysts
- Scar tissue healing
- Thyroid nodules
- Liver congestion
- Fibrocystic breasts
Given that I work with predominately women my favourite application for Castor Oil is to help with your periods, to help with breaking up adhesions and scar tissue.
Castor Oil is a fascinating oil, and the consistency of it means it penetrates the skin more readily than many other types of oil.
An important component of castor oil is ricinoleic acid, which has a molecular weight of 298DA, meaning it can pass through the superficial layer of skin into the dermis which is where it works it’s magic. (It is this component that acts on a type of receptor called EP3 which when ingested causing the laxative effect).
The dermis is where the majority of our lymphatic vessels lie, so this is why castor oil packs can be so supportive to the lymphatic and circulatory system.
Castor Oil has properties that allow it to break up congestion, stimulates circulation and lymphatic function and subsequently scar tissue and adhesions, so those with painful clotty periods of an inflammatory nature will really benefit from this.
Use of castor oil dates back to Ancient Egypt and is native to east Africa, however recently it is predominately grown in India.
The water soluble components of the castor oil seeds are extremely toxic, so only the oil is considered safe.
Do not use if you are pregnant, as the consumption of castor oil can stimulate your bowel motions so much it may bring on contractions. It is uncertain whether the laxative properties will pass onto baby, possibly causing GIT aggravation in baby.
Care if you are menstruating as it may increase blood flow.
How do you use it?
Pour enough castor oil onto your cloth to saturate it, but you don’t want it to be dripping.
Warm the cloth (such as by placing it in an oven proof dish and placing in the oven).
Apply the cloth to the area you want to target , then cover with something such as plastic or baking paper. Then place a heat pack or hot water bottle over the top.
Reduce the mess by wrapping yourself with an old towel, or a dressing gown that you’re wiling to get mucky. Castor oil can stain, and it’s better just to sacrifice an old gown or towel that you use for the purpose of applying your packs.
Lie down and rest for about 15-60 minutes. This is part of the magic.
You may like to start off by doing this daily, but after a while it can be more of a 1-2 times a week ritual.
Put the saturated cloth into a plastic bag and keep for next time. You may want to clean it every few weeks depending on how frequently you use it.
Tunaru, S., Althoff, T., Nusing, R. M., Diener, M., & Offermanns, S. (2012, June). Castor oil induces laxation and uterus contraction via ricinoleic acid activating prostaglandin EP3 receptors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(23), 9179-9184. doi:10.1073/pnas.1201627109