As a naturopathic doctor, the number one thing I recommend to patients as a daily practice is castor oil packs. Castor oil is a legendary healing oil that has been used for centuries in cultures all over the world. Ancient Egyptians used it to preserve skin, hair, and nails. People in Greece and China have long known the healing properties of castor oil when prepared in poultices and compresses. Ayurvedic practitioners consider it an essential part of their healing arsenal.
So, what’s the deal? Why are castor oil packs a mainstay all over the world?
First, castor oil is versatile. There are hundreds of uses for castor oil. It’s extremely nourishing and hydrating for the skin, so it is a common ingredient in many lotions and serums, as well as some pharmaceutical ointments and eye drops. It’s used as a carrier substance in various medications like antifungals, anti-cancer, and anti-stress drugs. When taken orally, it’s a stimulant laxative and is sometimes recommended by midwives for women in labor to induce contractions. Ear wax, acne, yeast infections, hemorrhoids, warts, scars, sunburns… the list of conditions castor oil is useful for goes on and on! It’s no wonder people call it a “magical oil” and a “divine oil.”
6 Surprising Benefits Of Castor Oil Packs
1. Castor Oil Pack Gets Deep Lowdown
So what is a castor oil pack? It’s castor oil applied to a piece of organic cotton and then placed on the body, traditionally over the liver, but it can be worn anywhere you have pain or inflammation.
Castor oil, in itself, is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal. Its active component, ricinoleic acid, has a molecular weight of 298 daltons. In dermatological medicine, a substance with a molecular weight of over 500 daltons can only penetrate the top layer of skin, the epidermis. But, since ricinoleic acid has a lower unique weight, it can actually penetrate through the epidermis into the next layer of skin, the dermis, where it reaches lymphatic vessels and aids circulation. There are not many oils that have this transdermal penetrability, which is why it makes for an excellent carrier oil.
2. From Stressed To Relaxed In A Matter Of Minutes
When a castor oil compress is applied to the skin, it stimulates somatovisceral reflexes that connect to the parasympathetic ganglion. This promotes a relaxed state. The combination of the texture of the oil and the localized compression of the pack creates a pleasant stimulus reaction, basically like a big hug for your body.
Being in a relaxed, parasympathetic state as much as possible is crucial for healing. This is where our bodies rest, digest, and repair. In the typical modern and busy lifestyle we spend too much time in the stressed-out, sympathetic “fight or flight” state. Our bodies don’t get enough time to recharge and renew, so training our parasympathetic tone is extremely beneficial for overall health. The daily use of castor oil packs is an easy way to do this.
3. Promotes Regularity
Proper elimination of waste from the body is extremely important so that we don’t have toxins re-circulating in our systems. Many people receive laxative or stool softener prescriptions to get things moving if they have constipation. Castor oil has been used for centuries as an oral laxative, but it may work a little too well for most people — ingesting castor oil will have you running right to the bathroom!
Castor oil packs, however, have been shown to regulate bowel movements effectively without the harsh reaction. They make a great alternative to laxatives and stool softeners because there are no negative side effects.
4. Efficient Detoxification
In this day and age, you can’t run, and you certainly can’t hide from toxic substances. They are in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the clothes we wear, and the products we put onto our bodies. We do our best to avoid them, but toxins inevitably weasel their way into our bodies, making our liver work on overdrive to get rid of them.
Glutathione is a powerhouse detoxifying molecule naturally present in the body. Its main job is to remove toxic substances like heavy metals and free radicals. Normally, the body recycles glutathione. But when the toxic load becomes too great, we lose this ability, which is why it’s important to get as much glutathione as possible.
A study comparing the levels of glutathione in the ocular lenses of rats showed that lenses placed in castor oil had higher concentrations of glutathione than lenses that were placed in a glutathione solution. So, wearing a castor oil pack over the liver, our main site of detoxification in the body is ideal for boosting our glutathione levels and supporting our natural cleansing and detoxification processes.
5. A Happy Microbiome
The microbiome is the community of organisms that live in our bodies and within our guts. There is a delicate balance of probiotic bacteria, such as lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, and bad bacteria, parasites, and yeasts, such as Candida albicans. We want the majority of the bacteria in our gut to be good bacteria, so the goal is always to reduce the “bad guys”.
The bad bacteria can produce a protective barrier known as a biofilm. Biofilms are next to impossible to get rid of, and there are only a handful of substances that can break it down –the majority of them being chemical. Castor oil has the amazing ability to break down biofilms which makes it an excellent choice for oil pulling in the mouth. Castor oil packs are also worn on the abdomen to optimize microbiome health.
6. Ease Pain And Inflammation
The main component of castor oil, ricinoleic acid, is very similar in structure to anti-inflammatory prostaglandins in the body. Castor oil also reduces substance P, a chemical messenger involved in the sensation of pain. Castor oil packs are worn over the liver to help reduce inflammation. This aids its function as well as the function of surrounding organs: the pancreas, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, kidney, and adrenals.
When there is inflammation in the gut, your body sends water to help “put out the fire”. This leads to bloating and extra water weight in the belly area. Reducing this inflammation, therefore, prevents bloating. Castor oil packs can also be worn over sore joints, sore muscles, bruises, and wherever pain is present.
Megan Nagy, a Nutritionist and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Clinician adds:
Just like an athlete needs to practice to become skilled at their sport, practicing relaxation is no different, and it is a must-do for healthy longevity. The castor oil pack is an amazing tool for this and I just love it.
How To Do A Castor Oil Pack
- Soak 3-4 layers of cotton flannel with castor oil
- Put in the oven for five minutes
- Place on the liver, careful not to burn yourself
- Wrap flannel with a towel after taking out of the oven
- Lay down on a towel for 1 hour
- Add heating pad or hot water bottle
- When done, place flannel in glass container and store in the fridge
- Gently wash off the area of application
For years I was averse to trying castor oil packs because they seemed like a daunting, messy process, and honestly, they sort of are. It wasn’t until I was so sick that I was bedridden from my irritable bowel syndrome that I finally decided to give them a try, and I was absolutely amazed by how they made me feel. I designed my own castor oil pack, the Queen of Thrones castor oil pack, that I could tie onto my body, to make it easier and messless.
How To Do The Queen Of The Thrones™ Castor Oil Pack:
- Apply castor oil to Queen of the Thrones™ castor oil pack and tie onto the body. Place over the liver or area of pain
- Wear for 1 hour or overnight
It is not necessary to add heat as it doesn’t change the effectiveness of the packs, but it is totally up to you and your personal preference. If you prefer the warmth of a heating pad or hot water bottle over your pack, then that’s fine — it’s all about what works for you. I do recommend doing castor oil packs every day to see its benefits — consistency is key!
Castor oil packs have truly changed my life and the lives of many of my patients. They stand the test of time, as they’ve been around for centuries and are still commonplace in naturopathic medicine today. They are safe and easy to use. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways, and that is certainly true when it comes to castor oil packs.
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Dr. Marisol Teijeiro: Queen of the Thrones™ is an author and world leader renowned for her passion to help people understand what their poo says about their health. After receiving her degree as a Naturopathic Doctor, she founded Sanas Health Practice, where she has had the opportunity to help thousands of patients live happy and healthy lives.
Crowned the Queen of the Thrones™ by her patients, join her movement so that we can help the estimated 20% of our population — that is over 1 BILLION people — that struggle every day with digestive issues like constipation, bloating, gas, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and much more. Together we can make an improvement!
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