In this post today, we're going to be talking about castor oil packs.
Since my family and I started working on improving our health, we've done different alternative or natural remedies that I never thought we would do.
One of them is castor oil packs.
Aren't Castor Oil Packs Weird?
I remember the days when I thought chiropractors were bizarre.
NEVER did I think I would be taking probiotics, going gluten-free, going sugar-free (oh man, did I eat a lot of sugar!), take stomach acid, try homeopathy, consider acupuncture…..yes, this is the world that I live in now.
And truly, if I hadn't moved into this world of alternative care, I truly believe that I would be seriously handicapped or possibly even dead.
Anyhow, back to the castor oil pack.
Until recently, I had only heard about castor oil as something that kids would struggle to get down at the urging of mothers.
Then later, when looking for natural hair-loss remedies, I read that castor oil was a great thing to apply to your scalp.
NOT true. Just take my word for it — it's terrible. I could barely get it out of my hair and basically lost MORE hair just in the attempt to remove the goo from my hair.
While I was under the care of the practitioner who wrote this post on thyroid health, the idea of castor oil packs for liver health came up.
And I'm glad it did.
These days we are constantly bombarded with toxins. From the air we breathe, to the water we drink, to our contaminated food, to what we put on our bodies (from heavy metals in cosmetics to artificial fragrances in personal and home care products), to general heavy metal toxicity, we are just living in a toxic soup.
Your liver has a huge job to do to filter out so many toxins, so it's crucial that you do what you can to support the liver so it can keep doing its job.
There are many ways to do that, and some of them taste good (like my Nourishing Coffee Substitute), but the castor oil pack is a great thing to do.
Our Experiences with Castor Oil Packs
As I mentioned, I first started using castor oil packs when under the care of the author of this post on thyroid health. Whenever I used them, I felt “less clogged” the next day, more relaxed, and my eyes seemed to be less puffy.
Also, I noticed that if I started having a breakout of acne on my face, if I used the castor oil pack at night, the next morning the pimples would be somewhat or significantly reduced.
My Son's Results
We know that my son has detox issues. He had Asperger's, which is a form of autism. He's tested with a double mutation of the MTHFR gene (more on that later) and there's a lot of evidence from lab work that he struggles in this area. The first time I used a castor oil pack on my son, he itched under the pad. I watched him carefully thinking he might have an allergy to the castor oil, but then when we removed the pad, interestingly he had broken out in what appeared to be hives on the opposite side of his abdomen!
It was as if his body was pushing things out, away from the castor oil pack.
Since then, he hasn't reacted that way, but has been noticeably more calm following the castor oil packs. We are currently interviewing other practitioners to work with him and have been told that the packs are a great addition to his natural care.
Castor Oil Pack Benefits
When used correctly, castor oil packs are said to support the liver by increasing it's capability to detoxify. Castor oil's lipid structure goes easily through the skin, stimulating a healthy flow of lymph fluid. It can also have anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing effects. (Source)
Additionally, they are supposed to support uterine and ovarian health as well as improve lymphatic circulation and reduce inflammation.
“Lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease. This is where castor oil comes in. When castor oil is absorbed through your skin (according to Cayce and McGarey), your lymphocyte count increases. Increased lymphocytes speed up the removal of toxins from your tissues, which promotes healing.” (Source)
This study, though small, showed
a “significant” temporary increase in the number of T-11 cells that increased over a 7 hour period following treatment and then returned to normal levels within 24 hours later.
“The T-11 cell increase represents a general boost in the body's specific defense status. Lymphocytes actively defend the health of the body by forming antibodies against pathogens and their toxins. T-cell lymphocytes originate from bone marrow and the thymus gland as small lymphocytes that identify and kill viruses, fungi, bacteria, and cancer cells. T-11 cell lymphocytes supply a fundamental antibody capability to keep the specific defense system strong.” (Source)
Castor Oil Packs for Thyroid
A reader asked me about whether or not castor oil packs can be used for thyroid health. I actually have read about people using these for thyroid issues and finding them to be successful, so it's something to consider.
Notes on Using Castor Oil Packs
While lying down for an hour during the pack treatment would certainly be a very relaxing thing, typically that isn't an option for me (or for many busy people) — and try getting your kid to lie down for an hour. So this heating pad, or something similar, is very handy as you can keep the pack in place while you go about your daily routine. Plus it doubles as a cold pack.
Keeping it Clean (sort of)
Castor oil is messy and its stains can be very hard to remove, so make sure to wear something you don't care about. Depending on the weather, I either put on one of my husband's icky old T-shirts or sweatshirts and an old old pair of shorts or sweat pants (buy a pair secondhand if you don't have any handy), and I'm set.
Don't Be Cheap
Do not purchase cheap castor oil. Some of it is processed with chemicals or in other ways that leave a less than desirable resulting product including possible contamination with toxins.
How often Should You Use Castor Oil Packs?
Most people recommend using castor oil packs about 3 times a week to start for best results.
However, there are lots of different recommendations depending on why you are using them.
One site that I saw recommends 4 consecutive days for 4-6 weeks.
Who Should Not Use Castor Oil Packs
There is mixed information out there about this as well, but some say that those who should not use castor oil packs include pregnant women, those with cancerous fibroids, ovarian tumors or breast tumors, unless under the supervision of a physician, and those with IUDs.
Additionally, castor oils packs should not be used over areas of active bleeding (wounds, ulcers, during menstruation), in cases of suspected appendicitis, or in patients with bleeding disorders. People with skin sensitivities and those with chemical sensitivities have also been mentioned as those who should exercise caution.
I know the whole castor oil packs thing sounds a little weird, but with all of the toxins we're exposed to, your liver sure can use all the help it can get. Trying to do whatever you can to improve liver health is certainly a good idea.. As with all things, please consult with your physician to see if castor oil packs are right for you.
How to Make Castor Oil Packs
What You Need:
High Quality Castor Oil
Lemon Essential Oil – optional
Plastic Wrap (please at least get BPA-free plastic wrap)
Heat Pad (I LOVE this one)
Soft Flannel Pad or an Organic Cotton Cloth (if using cotton I recommend organic, if possible)
- Moisten flannel or cotton with castor oil. (Add 1-2 drops of lemon essential oil to the castor oil, blending well, if desired.)
- Place moistened pad/cloth on right side of abdomen, just below rib cage.
- Cover the pad with plastic wrap and wrap around entire abdomen for stability.
- Heat heating pad and place on top of cloth.
- If using a pad that is in a securable cover, secure cover. Otherwise, lie down.
- Keep cloth in place for 1 hour.