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.
My Introduction to Castor Oil Packs
I remember the days when I thought chiropractors were bizarre.
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
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
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:
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 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.
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.
- 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.
Have you ever used a castor oil pack?
What did you use it for?