I’m not sure what you think about when you hear the words “castor oil” but for me it brings up memories of my mom describing my birth. At the time, her doctor strongly recommended that she drink castor oil to help bring on labor and speed up the labor process.
So my poor mom drank a whole bunch of castor oil, promptly threw up and then labored for thirteen hours with me anyway. Sorry mom, I guess it doesn’t work for everyone huh?
Fast forward 35 years and here I am, a women’s health coach about to regale you with tales of the miracle-like benefits of this sticky stuff.
I first discovered it about three years ago during a Mayan Abdominal Massage session. The practitioner slathered it on my abdomen and my parched skin (I have dry skin problems) soaked it right up! My period came a week later and it was perfect – it was four days long, not too heavy and pain free – naturally my curiosity was piqued.
What is castor oil?
Castor oil is derived from the seeds of the Castor Oil plant and has been used by many cultures for centuries to promote healing, specifically reproductive system healing. In the past it was referred to as “Palma Christi” because it’s leaves were believed to resemble the Hands of Christ, able to perform healing miracles.
It’s been found to help address congestion in the pelvic floor, increase blood flow and circulation to the uterus and ovaries, soften scar tissue (from c-sections, laproscopic surgery, cysts, cervical dysplasia or cancer), shrink fibroids, help with endometriosis pain, period cramping and irritable bowel syndrome.
Well hello there humble castor oil!
So how does castor oil perform all these miracles? It has been shown to stimulate the three most important parts of the body in charge of removing waste and toxins: the lymphatic and circulatory systems, and the liver.
We’ll start with the lymphatic system as this is where this oil holds a very unique benefit.
Relieving congestion on the lymphatic super-highway
As is often the case with ancient medicines, castor oil was dismissed for many years by the modern scientific community as being mere folklore. But more recent studies have even the most ardent critics becoming believers.
One study, focusing on castor oil’s effects on our lymphatic system, found a “significant” increase in the number of T-11 cells within patients after performing a castor oil treatment. As the study points out regarding this increase:
“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.”
Lymphocytes are your immune system’s disease-fighters. They travel along the hundred miles of your lymphatic highway removing waste from your tissue and transporting it to your blood so that it can be removed from your system.
This process is called lymphatic drainage. When there is congestion in this system, waste and toxins build up causing inflammation and disease.
Castor oil has been proven to stimulate the lymphatic system, increase the number of T-11 cells, which reduces congestion allowing the traffic on this very important highway to flow freely.
This one attribute of castor oil is truly miraculous. Our lymphatic system, unlike our circulatory system, does not have a heart to help it keep circulating. Instead it relies on our bodies movements to keep things moving along.
A lack of consistent exercise and physical activity can cause the whole system to slow down leading to congestion and inflammation. Boo!
The fact that a simple soothing castor oil treatment can immediately kick-start this very important disease fighting process is truly a gift from the goddesses.
Note: There are quite a few studies on castor oil, many of which are supposedly inconclusive. I want to make a point here that the anecdotal evidence for the benefits of castor oil is quite profound and should not be dismissed. I have had tremendous results and so have many of my clients.
Detoxification – The circulatory system and the liver
Now that your lymphatic system is flowing freely, removing waste and toxins from your tissue, castor oil moves on to stimulate the other detoxifying systems necessary to remove this stuff from your body.
It first provides a boost to your circulatory system to help increase blood flow to accommodate the removal of the waste being transferred by your T-cells to your bloodstream.
This bump in circulation produces new nutrient packed oxygenated blood which then travels throughout your body, to your reproductive organs, giving them a fresh army to help heal any damages and fight against any diseases. How perfect is that?!
The last step in this detoxification process happens in the liver. The liver is the main detoxifying organ in the body. Its job is to break down any externally-produced chemicals, as well as your body’s hormones, so that they can be easily removed from your system.
The liver also produces half of the lymph fluid for your lymphatic system. So when castor oil stimulates the lymphatic system, it also stimulates the liver, kicking it into gear so that it will be prepared to help break down the toxins that are on their way from the lymphatic and circulatory delivery systems.
It’s pretty amazing stuff!
Basically, in a nutshell, castor oil is a detoxifying, inflammation-fighting, super-shero! Our body’s systems for removing waste and toxins are amazing but they are also fragile and can easily become congested and out of sync, especially if we are not eating well and taking care of ourselves.
Castor oil and its incredible properties can help us get these systems flowing freely and get back in tune with one another allowing our body to begin to heal itself again. Now I can see why they called it the Hand of Christ! 🙂
Castor Oil Packs
A castor oil pack is a topical application of castor oil which is an economical, efficient and effective way of gaining the benefits of this incredible oil.
DIY Castor Oil Pack:
These are the supplies you will need to make a castor oil pack:
- High quality cold-pressed castor oil*
- Hot water bottle
- Plastic wrap
- A piece of wool or cotton flannel large enough to cover the treatment area when folded. You can also use 2 or 3 one foot square pieces if you don’t have a larger one.
- A bath towel or large cloth for clean up. Castor oil stains so you’ll want to make sure these are expendable.
- Container with a cover.
*As with all things, be diligent in finding a good source for your castor oil. Some of the products currently sold in stores are made from seeds that were sprayed with large amounts of pesticides. So gross! This can minimize the positive effects of the oil and can even contaminate it.
Here are some products I recommend:
Instructions for making and using your pack:
- Fold your flannel in half so that it’s large enough to cover your entire lower abdomen. Or stack the smaller one foot square pieces.
- Place the flannel in the container and soak with castor oil until it is completely saturated. It doesn’t need to be dripping though.
- Lie on your back and place a pillow under your feet to elevate them. Place the castor oil pack on your abdomen or other affected body part, cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap and place the hot water bottle on top.
- Leave the pack on for 30-45 minutes.
- During this time you can meditate, practice deep breathing or visualizations to increase the benefit of the castor oil. Or maybe you just wanna watch trashy TV, I won’t judge you, promise 😉
- When you’re done, remove the pack and wash the oil off your skin using a diluted solution of baking soda and water (2 tablespoons of baking soda for one quart of water).
- Place the pack in the covered container and store in the refrigerator. Each pack can be used up to 25-30 times. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 6 months.
You might also want to try the pack on the right side of your abdomen to help any liver and gallbladder issues. Or place it in other areas to help sore muscles or joints.
To get the most benefit, apply the pack at least 3-4 consecutive days per week for at least a month. People who use these packs daily tend to see the best results.
WARNING: I know, I know there are always precautions to take. I recommend consulting with a naturopath or doctor to make sure this is a good remedy for you. You should not use castor oil packs while on your period, during pregnancy or breastfeeding. If you are trying to conceive, don’t use castor oil packs after ovulation.
You might want to also check out this book, The Oil that Heals by William McGarey, a doctor who has used castor oil to successfully treat many conditions including arthritis, cancer, digestive disorders, liver and gallbladder problems.
I hope this has helped provide you with some information and guidance regarding this amazing oil. Good luck with your pack treatments and I would love to hear about the results in the comments below!
Don’t forget to download my FREE guide on how to make and use castor oil packs here.