Castor Oil Packs or Compresses are a fabulous old naturopathic remedy that can bring significant benefit to any state of pain or inflammation. They are also used for stimulating immune function and supporting detoxification.
The Castor Bean (Ricinus communes) from which the oil is pressed was used therapeutically in ancient Egypt, and Castor Oil packs were popularised by Edgar Cayce in the first half of the 20th Century.
Think of Castor Oil Packs for any painful or inflammatory condition, or any gastrointestinal condition or digestive issue. It is also excellent for stimulating immune function and supporting the lymphatic system. Castor Oil packs support detoxification through the lymphatic system and liver.
- Painful periods
- Any reproductive issues: Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, Uterine Fibroids, Ovarian support etc
- Musculoskeletal pain or inflammation: In my experience shoulders respond exceptionally well to castor oil packs (especially with kowhai & kawakawa). Hips and backs also respond well, but you can use these packs anywhere (wrists, knees, ankles, etc)
- Traditional use includes gallbladder and liver issues, detoxification support, digestive issues, reducing scar tissue and adhesions and more.
A 2012 systematic review of seven studies in the International Journal of Naturopathic Medicine concluded that “evidence suggests that castor oil may modulate white blood cell count and may have a positive effect on liver function and cholesterol levels; further research is needed in these areas. The topical application of castor oil has been shown to reduce the pain of neurogenic inflammation”.
One study published in 2000 by the Department of Pharmacology in Pomezia Roma in Italy reports that “Observational studies indicate that topical application of ricinoleic acid (RA), the main component of castor oil, exerts remarkable analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects”.
DO try this at home!
You may want to patch test first if you have sensitive skin.
Castor Oil can be purchased relatively cheaply in larger quantities (500ml-2L) online. If you want to try a little bit first, your local pharmacy may have smaller 100-200ml bottles.
You will need:
100-200ml Castor Oil
An old cloth or piece of fabric, eg. teatowel, flannel, part of an old sheet
A stove/element and pot to warm the oil in
A hot water bottle or wheat-bag
1-2 old plastic bags or plastic sheets or tarpaulins
Extra towels, perhaps old ones as its hard to get castor oil off things once its on them!
A friend or loved one is helpful but not essential to help out
Applying a Castor Oil Pack:
- Warm Castor Oil gently on the stove (do not boil) in a small pot
- Dip cloth into the oil so it is saturated with it but not dripping (wring out if needed)
- Lie down on top of some old towels, somewhere comfy (you may want to put a plastic sheet down under the towels to protect your bed or couch or carpet)
- Apply warm cloth to affected area (eg. pelvic area)
- Cover cloth with plastic
- Lay a towel over you
- Pop a hottie (or wheat bag or heating pack) on top so it keeps the area and the oil warm
- Make sure you are warm and cosy and lay here for at least 20 minutes
While I say 20 minutes here, originally the Edgar Cayce treatments were for 60-90minutes, so feel free to stay longer if you like! In my experience you’ll still get benefits with 20 minute treatments.
This can be done daily or 2-3x weekly for a longer duration if the issue is a more chronic one.
The cloth you use can be easily re-used, either stored in the fridge or just in a container on the bench. You’ll know when it’s time to change it!
Other herbs can be infused in the oil, or this treatment can be combined with other herbal compresses, poultices and topical treatments. Essential oils can also be added (with care and know-how).
I have seen such wonderful results with Castor Oil packs and encourage anyone to try them!
Please contact us for references.