Grease Lightning: Castor Oil Packs
Let me start off by asking you this: “Don’t you want to curl up with a warm, oily rag?”
I can tell by the glint in your eye that you’re intrigued.
Castor oil packs have a long history of use dating back to ancient Egypt. It has also been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine practices. I personally have been doing a castor oil pack about five times a week for the past two years. While at first it felt like a chore, it’s now become a comforting routine for me.
So why should you do a castor oil pack?
Castor oil has anti-inflammatory, healing, lubricating, anti-infective, analgesic (pain-relieving), depurative (detoxifying), decongestive, antisclerotic (breaks up scar tissue), and circulatory, lymphatic, and immune stimulating effects.
Here’s a look at some of castor oil’s specific uses:
Constipation and Digestive Distress: Castor oil may be used as a massage oil to massage the abdomen and stimulate a bowel movement. Always massage in a clockwise direction in order to match the natural peristaltic movement of the intestines. A warm castor oil pack placed over the abdomen can calm spasms and soothe inflammation in the bowels. Castor oil abdominal massages (without adding a heat source) are safe for babies too and is a great way to treat gassy or plugged up baby tummies.
Muscle and Joint Pain: Because castor oil is a natural anti-inflammatory, it can relieve arthritic joints, rheumatism, gout, nerve inflammations, and sore muscles. Use castor oil as a massage oil or make a pack over the affected area.
Skin Conditions: Castor oil is very emollient, healing, and depurative (draws gunk out), so it is excellent for a range of skin issues including: acne, dry skin, boils, warts, sunburn (do not apply heat), scars, stretch marks, eczema and psoriasis. Castor oil contains undecylenic acid which has anti-fungal and disinfectant properties. Therefore, castor oil can also be a useful adjunct therapy for athlete’s foot and other fungus-related skin infections.
Menstrual and Pelvic Disorders: Castor oil can help ease the pain and inflammation associated with menstrual disorders. There are also anecdotal reports of castor oil decreasing or eliminating fibroids and cysts. Castor oil contains ricinoleic acid, which stimulates blood flow and encourages normal menstruation in cases of delayed or difficult menses. Castor oil can be used as a massage oil or a pack over the pelvis area. Please note that this may increase blood flow.
Hair & Scalp Care: The antimicrobial properties of castor oil protect the scalp and hair from bacterial and fungal infections. Performing regular castor oil scalp “masks” can reduce dandruff, soothe itchy scalps, and improve quality and appearance of hair. To perform, massage the oil into the scalp, and leave it on at least an hour or overnight (you can sleep with a shower cap on) and wash hair the next morning. You will likely have to lather twice to get all the oil out.
Making a warm compress using a hot water bottle enhances castor oil’s ability to penetrate the skin and work deeper inside the body. For best results, castor oil packs should be performed four or more days in a row. Here’s how to do it:
Hot water bottle
Plastic wrap or old bag (optional, but makes things less messy)
- Use a piece of flannel (can be bought at health food stores specifically for castor oil packs or you can just rip up an old flannel sheet or pillow case) and fold it three layers thick, making sure it is large enough to cover the affected area.
- Place flannel in a large bowl and pour castor oil on it (depending on size of flannel, 2-6 Tbsp of oil) and soak flannel in castor oil. Flannel should be saturated but not dripping.
- Place flannel over area to be treated.
- Place plastic over flannel (protects sheets, clothes, and other materials from staining).
- Place hot water bottle over protected flannel. The water bottle should feel warm and soothing, not scalding and uncomfortable!
- Rest comfortably for 30-60 minutes.
Caution: Please do not perform during pregnancy.
I strongly believe that, given all the benefits or this wonderful medicinal oil, castor oil should be a staple in every family’s medicine cabinet!
Have you ever tried a castor oil pack?
Alex Picot-Annand, BA (Psych), Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Certified Life Coach