What Are Castor Oil Packs and How to Use Them?

Did you know that castor oil has some pretty powerful healing properties, and you don’t have to drink it to get the benefits?

Mention castor oil, and maybe you think of remedies to induce childbirth or soothing digestive problems. But did you know that castor oil has some pretty powerful healing properties, and you don’t have to drink it to get the benefits?

Castor oil has been used since the times of the Ancient Egyptians and is mentioned in their oldest medical textbooks as a topical treatment for a range of ailments. You can still take castor oil the old-fashioned way, of course, by stirring it into juice or just gulping it from a spoon, but you don’t have to put up with the oily feeling or the strong taste. More and more people are discovering the benefits of applying castor oil through castor oil packs.

The Content of this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

What Is Castor Oil?

Castor oil is a clear to pale gold vegetable oil that is derived from the seeds of the castor bean plant (Ricinus Communis). Originally from the Mediterranean region, Africa and India, the castor bean plant can now be found all over the world. It is one of the world’s oldest cultivated crops and a standby for folk medicine.

What Is A Castor Oil Pack?

A castor oil pack is a type of poultice – another old-fashioned remedy that is very effective but has fallen out of favor in our modern world. Making a poultice just means you apply the remedy directly to the skin on a cloth for a specific length of time, to keep the healing ingredients in contact with the part of your body that needs healing. It’s a similar idea to nicotine or hormonal patches that deliver medicine through the skin. Castor oil packs are not just effective, they are comforting as well.

What Is A Castor Pack Good For?

Castor oil is noted for its powerful detoxifying properties. Although it’s probably best known for its effect on constipation, used externally castor oil has been used for centuries to reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and promote healing.

It is excellent for boosting the lymphatic system and reducing lymphatic congestion that can be a precursor to inflammation and disease. Castor oil can kickstart your body’s production of lymphocytes which are your immune system’s disease-fighting cells.

Castor oil is also renowned for its beneficial effect on hair and skin and is often recommended to reduce thinning hair and promote regrowth. Studies have shown that castor oil applied directly to wounds, and bedsores can speed up healing. 

Castor oil packs are recommended for a range of women’s health issues, form endometriosis to pre-menstrual syndrome, cramps, and ovarian cysts.

Castor oil’s anti-inflammatory and detoxing effect make it a useful treatment for varicose veins, liver, gallbladder and kidney problems. A gentle castor oil pack can be applied to relieve the symptoms of joint pain, gout, and arthritis.

Athletes can use castor oil packs to relieve tight, sore muscles and improve recovery time from injuries.

Research in 2013 showed that castor oil can eliminate Candida albicans, the yeast fungus that causes athlete’s foot, thrush, and ringworm.

How Does Castor Oil Work?

Castor oil is mostly made of ricinoleic acid, a fatty acid that is a powerful detoxifying agent. By applying castor oil directly to the skin, none of the ricinoleic acid is lost, as it is when it is taken internally and goes through your digestive system.

A castor oil pack delivers the ricinoleic acid straight to your lymphatic system and allows you to experience the benefits right away.

For extra benefits, you can also add your favorite essential oil to your castor oil pack.

How Do You Make A Castor Oil Pack?

Using a castor oil pack requires a little preparation. It’s best to use a castor oil pack overnight or while you’re resting, otherwise if you try to move around, things can get a bit messy! 

Apart from cold-pressed castor oil, you will need:

  • At least four pieces of soft cotton cloth, such as flannel, cut into strips about 12 by 10 inches (or smaller if you are using it on a small area such as a knee or ankle joint) I love to use these flannel baby wipes because they are already a nice sized square cloth
  • a glass or china dish or container
  • tongs to pick up the oil-soaked cloth
  • a heating pad or hot water bottle
  • a large Ziplock baggie
  • one or more old towels to prevent the oil from staining your bedding.

Put the pieces of cloth in the dish, pour over some castor oil and allow the oil to soak into the cloth until it is saturated.

Set up a heating pad next to your bed or fill your hot water bottle. Lay an old towel over your bedding to protect it from the oil. 

Put the dish with the flannel, the Ziplock baggie, and an old towel next to the bed where you can reach it easily, say on your nightstand.

Lie on the bed and carefully place the oily cloth on the troublesome area. Place the baggie on top of the fabric and then gently rest the hot water bottle or heating pad on top of the baggie.

Lie down and relax for an hour or two before removing the pack and wiping the oil off your skin with an old towel. I love to do castor oil packs while in my sauna, especially my Solo sauna because I lay flat in that one. If you want to try your packs while getting the benefits of sauna therapy, check them out HERE.

Your castor oil pack is safe to re-use as long as it is kept in the refrigerator. As long as it smells okay, it’s fine to use.

For an extra-powerful detoxing experience, try taking an Epsom salt bath and applying a castor oil pack before bedtime.

Is a Castor Oil Pack Safe?

Castor oil is generally safe to use externally. If you haven’t used castor oil before, it’s a good idea to try a patch test first and apply a couple of drops of castor oil onto your skin. Leave for 24 hours to see if your skin reacts at all.

Castor oil should not be applied to broken skin or open wounds. You should avoid castor oil packs if you are pregnant or nursing.

If you are chemically sensitized or have allergies, it is wise to check with your health practitioner before adding castor oil packs to your health regime. Similarly, if you have a chronic condition or are taking regular medication, check with your health professional before trying a new treatment like castor oil packs. 

Be careful when warming your castor oil, and make sure it doesn’t get too hot. Do not use a microwave oven to warm the oil or to heat up a previously used castor oil pack, as the oil may catch fire. 

A castor oil pack is a natural, economical, and soothing way to deliver the benefits of ricinoleic acid straight to your system.

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What Are Castor Oil Packs and How to Use Them? | Real Food RN


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