Castor Oil Packs--What They Are and Why You Need One

Have you heard about castor oil packs? They're something I heard about for years before trying one, and now I'm really glad I did.

Since my family and I started working on improving our health, we've tried several alternative or natural remedies that I never thought we would do.

One of them is castor oil packs.

I mean, who wants to slap something oily and sticky-like on your body. Especially in the summer months. Ick.

Well, they work. That's why.

bottle of castor oil

My Introduction to Castor Oil Packs

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.

In my youth, castor oil was something that I heard that kids would struggle to get down at the urging of their mothers.

Then later, when looking for natural hair-loss remedies, I read that castor oil was a great thing to apply to your scalp.

Didn't work for me. I could barely get it out of my hair and basically lost MORE hair just in the attempt to remove the thick goo from my hair. If it's worked for you, please let me know how you got it out!

Anyhow, while I was under the care of the practitioner who wrote this post on thyroid health, she brought up castor oil packs.

She explained that 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 castor oil packs are a great support for your liver.

Our Experiences with Castor Oil Packs

My Results

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.

bottle of castor oil on table

Castor Oil Pack Benefits

Here's why you need these packs in your life.

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 thought to support uterine and ovarian health as well as improve lymphatic circulation and reduce inflammation.

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, but I don't know if it's true or not.

Castor Oil Pack FAQs

What position should you be in when using a castor oil pack?

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.

I personally think that it's OK to do anything, but relaxing is a great thing to do when wearing your castor oil pack. Most of us don't do enough of that anyhow. Prayer is a good idea too.

Can you add an essential oil to your castor oil pack?

Lemon essential oil is supposed to be very supportive for the liver, so adding it to the castor oil could be of help.

How messy are castor oil packs?

Castor oil is messy and its stains can be very hard to remove, so make sure to wear something you don't care about if using a DIY castor oil pack.  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.

What brand / type of castor oil is best?

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.

There are quite a few brands of castor oil on the market.

If at all possible, you want a castor oil that is organic and hexane free and cold pressed.

Expeller pressed isn't unhealthy, but due to the heat created when pressing the oil, some of the antioxidants and nutrients in the oil are destroyed.

Here are some great brands:

Lulus Naturals - sourced from the USA
Heritage Store - sourced from India

there are more, but these are two good brands to start with.

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.

How often should you replace your castor oil pack?

Some say that you need to replace your castor oil pack as often as every 2 months, but some say that they should last a lot longer than that.

Lulus Naturals recommends putting just a small amount of oil on your body part rather than putting a lot on the pad itself. As such, most of the oil will absorb into you rather than being on the pad.

If a lot of oil gets into the pad, it won't wash out easily and will go rancid more easily.

Of course, use your common sense, and if the pad smells bad to you, don't use it and replace it, but you should be able to use one pad for quite a long time--in fact I've heard of people using one pack for up to a year! That's a long time and can help you save money on castor oil packs big time!

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.

Important Information About Castor Oil and Detox Pathways

Remember that story about my son and the rash that showed up after doing a castor oil pack on his liver?

Well, the liver filters out a lot of toxins, right? So if a castor oil pack works like it's supposed to and it helps dump the toxins out, they have to go somewhere.

If you are constipated, they might choose to go out of the skin. So it's a good idea to make sure you're "regular" before using a castor oil pack on your liver, or you might get a rash.

Non-Messy Castor Oil Packs You Can Buy

You can follow the instructions below to make your own DIY castor oil pack, however they can be a bit messy (or more than just a bit).

Thankfully there are totally non messy options......hurray!

Lulus Naturals

Lulus has fantastic kits that are not messy - woot! So many rave reviews, and you can even get one to wear on your thyroid!

Lulus has truly COLD PRESSED castor oil which is important for the reasons explained above.

Plus the owner is a great person, which is important in a world where that can be a rare find!

Use code wholenewmom to get a nice discount on your purchase.

model wearing castor oil pack.

Buyer Beware - Toxic Castor Oil Packs

Please, please be careful about buying castor oil packs off of Amazon. They might say "organic" but how would you know?

There are lots of sellers sourcing materials from China that are NOT organic.

That does not mean that everything from China is a problem, but you really need to know your seller.

You definitely do NOT want to be putting toxic fabric with castor oil on it on your liver or thyroid or breasts for detoxing. You could be driving toxins IN to your body instead of taking them out.

bottle of castor oil on table

How to Make a Castor Oil Pack

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  • 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 flannel pad or cloth on right side of abdomen, just below rib cage.
  • Cover the pad with plastic wrap and wrap around entire abdomen for stability.
  • Heat the heating pad according to manufacturer directions 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.
Tried this recipe?Mention @wholenewmom or tag #wholenewmom!

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  1. At present I am using caster oil to cure a bunnion on my foot. I put the oil on a make up remover pad and put it over the bunnion and then wrap my foot in clingfilm. I change it every other day and have been using it for a week. Already my foot is much less painful and I am hoping to be totally free of the bunnion.

  2. I want to try the castrol oil pack. I want it to go on the liver. I have pancreatic cancer. How can I get yours or do I make my own? Let me know.
    I don't see any recent posts. Why is that?

  3. I've heard about them for years, tried them a few times, but didn't keep at it cause of how much of a pain it was to wrap myself in plastic wrap and all that. Also I had an itchy rash on my back after the last time I used the brand you show a few months back, so stopped. However, a few weeks ago I found a article on them again, with a video and it was the queen of thrones talking about them. She said you should always use oil that is in a glass jar, as the plastic jar will leach chemicals out into the oil...which isn't good as then those chemicals go down into your body with the oil...she also sells a nicer pack that you don't have to use plastic wrap or heat with, so I splurged and bought it and her oil (although there is at least one brand on amazon that you can buy that looks to be a good one like hers)...but the packs, are a game changer! She talked about wearing them every night, all night...I'm not quite there yet as I started out a little slow...since I had that rash that one time, but think I'll be doing it most nights starting tonight, if all goes well! So nice not to have to use the plastic wrap...not near as hot that way! I have to wonder if I had the rash because of using the oil in the plastic bottle or not, cause so far I haven't, using her oil. Hopefully I don't, and it really starts helping me, I've been trying to clean out my liver for several years now, but it's a slow process, and I'm hoping this will help the herbs I'm taking work better.

    1. So sorry for the long delay in responding. Very interesting about the rashes..are you not getting them any longer? I know that there are better plastics than others but yes it would be great to be done with them altogether if possible.

      Thanks much for reading!

      1. Hi Donna..just an FYI I just put a new company in the post that has a great non messy wrap. I did have another one there but from what I'm hearing their castor oil is expeller pressed and not cold pressed so I need to investigate that more. The one in the post is cold pressed. Apparently the cold pressed one will have more vitamins and antioxidants that the heat from the expeller pressing will damage.

        I'll likely put the other brand in there too so people can choose. Hope that helps!

      2. I've been using the Queen of Thrones pack, that is now linked at the end of the article! So much easier than the old way for sure!

  4. I believe the recommendation was after about 10 uses, based on the fact that the materials that this particular company uses for the pack are specially chosen to be non-toxic to use with the castor oil.
    But less toxic materials break down faster with use/ washes. When you make your own pack, people will use a plastic grocery bag or whatnot to provide a barrier between their oil and their clothing. Apparently the oil can leach toxins from the bag, or a plastic bottle if the oil is stored in one, and pass those toxins to you.

    Having said that, I have probably used my pack at least 25-30 times, and washed it by hand once (directions included in the pack).

    The oil has leaked through a little on my pajamas as the pack gets more saturated, but I wear old shirts and pajama pants and wash those pajamas and underwear separately. It's worth it to me.

    I can't buy packs all the time either. I get it. But the benefits of using the castor pack are amazing!

    1. Just don't do like I did...I didn't realize I was supposed to change them out so much and kept it forever...and then started having issues, took me forever to figure out it was the pack, and once I learned more I figured out It was probably so old that it was putting the toxin's back into my I promptly got a new pack, and am trying to not be to frugal with it so I use it to long. LOL It's working a lot better now again! 🙂 Sadly I took a few steps back, before figuring it now I'm still digging my way out back to where I had been...least hopefully I am. LOL

        1. Oh I don't know for sure...several months...maybe a year. LOL I heard 3 months is all you should use it for, then lately they say 2...with our money situation I'm sure I'll try the 3, but hopefully can get a new one by then! LOL Actually they just brought out a new thing to use with the pack, that should make the pack last's a liner, and I'm using it hopefully that will help me not having to spend quite as much.

            1. The pack is supposed to last 6 months with the new thing you use on the inside of that helps. LOL And...not quite sure why it has to only last 6 months...but then again, I didn't understand it before and got myself into probably will try to stick closer to what they say now. *roll eyes*

              1. Yes, that helps. Not thrilled with that either - I'm sure you get it! I will see what I can figure out :).

              2. Hi there, Deb. So I just found out some interesting information that might be helpful for you and I put some of it in the post.

                Please see the post for the new "how long can I use my castor oil pack for?" section and let's talk about this. I was glad to learn this since I really wasn't keen on spending that much every 2 months or so and haven't looked into the liner option. But of course I'd rather only buy 1 a year than 2 and not have to buy a liner as well........

                1. So if you put it directly on your skin, it makes the pack last longer? works as well? Guess I always thought it had to go on the pack, to work, cause even before this kind of pack, when I tried the old way where I had to wrap myself in plastic (which I didn't do much cause it just wasn't handy) I always thought you poured the oil on the pack. I can see where you wouldn't use as much oil that way probably...and it could for sure not make the pack as do like the concept, if it really works as well!

                  1. Hi there--I am getting more information about this but apparently so since the oil doesn't go through to the other side (the PUL / polyurethane laminate) side it's less likely to get really sticky and go rancid. I'm still not 100% understanding this but I can tell you that at Lulus Naturals (the company mentioned in my post) they say that you only need to change out your pack about once a year which sounds good to me!

                    I apply this concept to my skincare all the time--why do you need a thick coating? Typically you can get away with a lot less and still get the desired results and save a lot of money! 🙂

                    Let me know what you think.