Castor oil has a long history of traditional medical use dating back to ancient Egypt. Derived from the castor bean (Ricinus communis), the oil was once used internally as a laxative but is now primarily used externally due to its potential toxicity.
Castor oil packs are used on the skin to increase circulation and to promote elimination and healing of the tissues and organs underneath the skin. They are also used to stimulate the liver, relieve pain, increase lymphatic circulation, reduce inflammation, and improve digestion.
Edgar Cayce endorsed abdominal castor oil packs as a home remedy for all types of problems as a Simple procedure for detox and cleansing. There were a few cases in which castor oil was recommended for internal dosage although other readings strongly cautioned against it.
Castor Oil Packs have been used for conditions such as:
- Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gall bladder)
- Incoordination between assimilations and eliminations
- Incoordination between nervous systems
- Intestinal disorders such as stricture and colon impaction
- Liver, kidney, and pelvic disorders
- Poor eliminations
- Various liver conditions such as cirrhosis and torpid liver
The Castor plant is very beautiful. The beans are quite toxic to both people and pets. If your pet chews on the plant, you should call your local poison control for instructions on what to do. Here are a few pictures of the castor plant, castor flowers and castor beans:
The following Edgar Cayce reading excerpts give further information on the function of the castor oil packs:
“The effect of these oil packs is to enliven, through the activity of the absorption through the perspiratory system, the activities in such natures and measures as to produce a greater quantity (than at present) and a superficial activity of the lymph circulation; hence setting up drainages to such measures that the poisons will be eliminated from the system…” [Reading #631-4]
“Or there may be the use of hot Castor Oil Packs that may assist in so dissolving the gravel in the gall duct and the gall bladder that it might be drained osteopathically, after a long series. This would require a much longer period but would be a much safer manner.” [Reading #3160-1]
“Heat the Oil; dipping two, three to four layers of flannel in same, wring out and apply directly to the body. Well that dry heat be kept over same during the period of an hour or the like when the Packs are on the body. Bathe off the body afterwards, of course, with a weak soda solution, to cleanse the body from the acidity and from the natural secretions that arise from same.” [Reading #1034-1]
“Be well to put oil paper or cloth over the Packs, for we should have great quantities of the Oil. Do not make them TOO hot, but so as to at least drive them into the body. It is well to put these on and then apply external heat; as the electric pad or salt bags or the like. DRY heat, though, rather than wet heat.” [Reading #1312-3]
“From EVERY condition that is of true epileptic nature there will be found a cold spot or area between the lacteal duct and the caecum. Over this area every other day, in the afternoon when the body rests from its physical exercise in the open, apply Castor Oil packs, for a period of at least TWO times every other day…We will break up this tendency for the lymph ducts, in the ducts of the lacteals and in the caecum and colon (ascending here), that tendency for contraction and for the activities that help to bring on the conditions that produce incoordination to the nerve forces of the body.” [Reading #567-4]
The function of the packs is to improve blood flow; they kind of work like an acupuncture treatment (only without the needles!) Often the packs are applied to the lower abdomen, at least three times per week for sixty minutes each time to improve blood flow. This regimen is followed for at least three months and then can be tapered to once a week. Packs should not be used while you are bleeding heavily.
Castor oil packs are made by saturating wool or cotton flannel, folded four-ply, with cold-pressed castor oil (cloth should not be dripping). The oil and flannel can be purchased at a health food store or directly from the company that makes them.
Materials to assemble include:
- Three layers of un-dyed wool or cotton flannel large enough to cover the affected area
- Castor oil
- Plastic wrap cut 1-2″ larger than the flannel (can be cut from a plastic bag)
- Hot water bottle
- An old towel or two
- Container with lid to store the pads between use
- Old clothes and sheets as castor oil will stain clothing and bedding
Disposable flannel or wool packs are inexpensive and can be used about 10 times before discarding. The Disposable Flannel Pack consists of “flannel-like” material which is absorbent on one side and is coated with plastic on the other side to protect the heating pad. This disposable flannel is also used to protect the area you are resting on. When used in this manner it replaces the old method of placing a plastic bag and towel underneath you as a protective cover. Here is the link to a picture of a castor oil pack used too long and left in a hot room for many months (http://www.baar.com/moldy.htm ). Gross! Note that it is moldy and looks very toxic.
Cold-pressed Castor Oil is available in an 8 oz., pint, quart or gallon size. Often it can be found in your local health food store or Co-op, and is fairly cheap. Or you can purchase it directly from the Edgar Cayce Foundation (http://www.edgarcayce.org ). Most individuals start with either a pint or a quart. Frequent users usually purchase by the gallon. Small amounts of Castor Oil should be added to the pack before each use to refresh it.
An electric heating pad is needed to heat the castor oil pack. A moist heating pad with automatic shut off is best, but some of the newer ones shut off after only an hour, so you might want to compare heating pads.
How to Do a Castor Oil Pack:
- The wool or cotton flannel is folded so that it is four layers thick.
- Apply the castor oil to the cloth so that is it not dripping, but has saturated the first three layers of the cloth.
- The oil-saturated flannel is placed directly on the skin of the lower abdomen.
- Cover the flannel with a piece of plastic (some people use a plastic bag.)
- Apply heat on top of the plastic covered flannel using a hot water bottle or heating pad for 60 minutes or however long your practitioner tells you to.
- A blanket or towel can be placed over the heat source to keep everything in place and to keep the heat in better.
- After removing the pack, cleanse the area with a dilute solution of water and baking soda. A weak solution contains a teaspoon of baking soda per pint of water.
Store the pack in the covered container in the refrigerator. Each pack may be reused up to 25-30 times—adding more castor oil as necessary, but flannel is cheap, so if you see anything growing on it or your gut instinct is to change to a new piece of flannel, then do that. Be sure to keep the pack out of the sun and in a cool dark place.
A castor oil pack can be placed on the following body regions:
- The right side of the abdomen to stimulate the liver. Castor oil packs are often recommended as part of a liver detox program.
- Inflamed and swollen joints, bursitis, and muscle strains.
- The abdomen to relieve constipation and other digestive disorders.
- The lower abdomen in cases of menstrual irregularities and uterine and ovarian cysts.
- I’ve also had clients place a small pack on the eustachian tubes to clear up old plugged up ears and for ear infections.
In the Edgar Cayce Readings, he suggested the pack be applied in a variety of ways and times. For example: several hours at a time; until relief is obtained; continued use according to a cycle, such as three days of use alternated with four days off. I determine the regularity and time the pack is needed for my clients and put that on their To Do Lists.
Repeat ____ times per week for _____ days/weeks/months.
More is Better? You all know how I warn against the “more is better” type of thinking, but castor oil packs are one of those rare remedies that cannot be used too much; generally, with external applications of castor oil, “more is better.” While the ARE Clinic normally recommends that the minimum use be for an hour each day – for three consecutive days in a week – this frequency and duration may often be exceeded in order to bring better and faster relief.
For Acute Cases: If it is known that there is a critically high degree of toxicity in the body, or a significant difficulty in eliminating toxins (such as with kidney failure), then it is best if the packs are used on alternating days for the first week. After that, usually the packs may be used on consecutive days from that point on.
How to treat side affects: Castor oil pack treatments should always be gentle and with no real side effects. The most common side effect is a rash that may occur at the site of the pack. This typically only occurs during the first few applications of the pack, and may be relieved by using the baking soda wash. Rashes and other reactions are rare, and if they occur they usually indicate that the elimination of toxins through the system are not good, and perhaps the pack should be used on alternate days for the first week of use.
A non-electric heat source is best. The patient reclines with this on her lower abdomen for sixty minutes. A supplement to this is that during this treatment you pay attention to thoughts, images, and feelings that arise and make note of them in a journal. Preliminary studies on castor oil packs done at the George Washington School of Medicine indicate that they improve immune system functioning. Reference: http://curezone.com/cures/castoroil.html
Some clients like Fomentek Bags which are made of a double layer of a space age plastic which is soft and pliable yet, strong enough to support the weight of over 400 pounds. Massage oils, cleaners, and solvents will not harm the Fomentek bag. You can purchase one on-line.
Castor Oil Packs for Warts and Moles
In the majority of cases castor oil was recommended to be used in a great variety of external uses: A mixture of castor oil and baking soda applied on calluses on the feet, moles, ingrown toenails and warts.
“Apply a paste of baking soda with Castor Oil. Mix together and apply of evenings. Just the proportions so it makes almost a GUM; not as dough but more as gum, see? A pinch between the fingers with three to four drops in the palm of the hand, and this worked together and then placed on – bound on. It may make for irritation after the second or third application, but leave it off for one evening and then apply the next – and it will be disappearing!” [Edgar Cayce Reading #1179-4]
Castor oil was also recommended to be massaged on calluses, cancer (skin and breast), cysts, bunions, moles, tumors and warts.
Some practitioners have also added ginger to the castor oil and have found success using Castor Oil Packs as part of the protocol in treating kidney stones, gallstones (chronic conditions, not necessary for simple acute stones), for various liver problems such as congestion, hepatitis, jaundice, and cirrhosis.
Edgar Cayce also has recommended the use of castor, peanut and olive oil for arthritis many times. He always included some rose water in his formula, but I’ve seen it work great without this added. I can tell you that massaging this kind of oil into the body on a regular basis really does seem to work (so my clients say). It’s best to find a massage practitioner that will use your own recipe. I’ve muscle-tested out customized formulas for lots of clients over the years. I’ve used:
- Olive Oil 4 parts
- Castor Oil 3 parts
- Peanut Oil 2 parts
- Various essential oils as the client tests they need
As described by one practitioner, “We rub the castor oil over the upper abdominal area, after creating a decoction of the gingerroot slices… we soak a cotton cloth in the decoction, place it as hot as the patient can take it over the castor oiled area, cover this with a thick cotton towel, wrap a blanket around it all to keep the heat in… sometimes even use a hot water bottle between the towel and the blanket…keep it on for about an hour… the client feels “chemical-burning-like-sensations in the livers as the actions begin… this disappears rather quickly (in minutes) and then the healing has begun…”
She continues: “Serious chronic cases have to do this twice a day for a few days, then cut to once a day, then a few times a week, then once a week…and the liver and gallbladder and kidneys all get strong and after a few months no treatments are required, no stones are produced…”
For how to prepare a decoction, go to: http://naturalhealthtechniques.com/healingtechniquesdecoctions.htm
Safety precautions: Castor oil should not be taken internally. It should not be applied to broken skin, or used during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or during menstrual flow. Always seek medical advice prior to use. Castor oil may induce labor!
Helpful Links and Resources: