Castor oil comes from Ricinus communis, the castor plant. Castor oil has many health benefits. It can be applied topically or taken internally (in this post we will not be covering internal use). The main active component in castor oil is RA (ricinoleic acid). RA relieves pain and inflammation. Because it is inexpensive, widely available, generally regarded as safe and effective, let’s talk about how to apply a castor oil pack (and why you’d want to)!
BENEFITS OF TOPICAL CASTOR OIL PACKS
- Stimulates liver and lymphatic function; unblocks stagnant bile and lymph flow
- Reduces inflammation especially when applied over muscle/joint injuries
- Helps alleviate menstrual pain and cramps
- Produces a temporary yet significant increase in T-cell lymphocytes, boost antibody levels, and immune defense mechanisms
HOW TO APPLY A SIMPLE CASTOR OIL PACK
- Rub 1 tsp-1 Tbsp castor oil into the skin in your area of interest (liver, abdomen, lungs, joints, etc) or Saturate a small piece of cloth with castor oil and place over your liver or area of interest
- Cover the area with an old towel or wrap the area comfortably with an ace bandage.
- Throw on an old t-shirt (castor oil stains fabric, so wear something that is not precious to you)
- Apply hot water bottle or a heating pad to the pack area
- Sit or lay down, relaxing for 45 minutes to 1 hour (safe to wear for a few hours or overnight as well — NOT with the heating pad)
WHEN AND HOW OFTEN TO APPLY A CASTOR OIL PACK
Apply castor oil packs 2-3 times per week for general detoxification. A castor oil pack can also be beneficial:
- before an enema, colonic, or liver/gallbladder flush;
- during chelation treatment;
- for abdominal pain;
- in addition to abdominal visceral massage.
DO NOT APPLY CASTOR OIL PACKS IN THESE INSTANCES
- over an open wound
- on abdomen when menstruating
- on abdomen during pregnancy (castor oil can induce labor and should only be used during pregnancy if indicated by your physician or doula.)
- if you are currently being treated for any medical condition, it’s best to check with your doctor before using castor oil.
Castor oil can be very nourishing for the hair and scalp. It is used as a serum to promote hair growth. Eye lashes can grow in stronger, thicker and longer! Ricinoleic acid is the compound in castor oil that may cause this benefit! Ricinoleic acid can increases PGE2 in the scalp (and on other skin). PGE2 is a fatty acid, which seems to be vital for follicle health and hair growth.
When applied to the skin, castor oil is known to increase penetration of topicals and make it easier for things applied next to be absorbed. This is one of the reasons I love pairing castor oil with essential oils! Interested in my favorite combinations? Email me (sarah at yourholistichealthcoach dot com) if you’d like my Castor Oil Pack cheat sheet with essential oil blend bonus — and let me know where to email your copy!
Here’s my favorite hexane-free castor oil: