Find out what is castor oil, what are the uses and benefits of castor oil packs, and how to make a castor oil pack.
What is castor oil?
Castor oil is a vegetable oil pressed from ricinus communis, castor beans. The name probably comes from its use as a replacement for castoreum. The latter is a product made by beavers. To be more precise, beavers have castor sacs between their genitals and their anus that produces a liquid substance. This substance, called castoreum, is used by the beavers to grease their fur and to mark their territory with an individual beaver’s scent.
Castor oil is a colourless to very pale yellow liquid with a distinct taste and odour. It’s noteworthy that castor beans contain a toxic enzyme called ricin. However, the heating process that castor oil undergoes deactivates it, allowing the oil to be used safely.
Benefits of Castor Oil and Castor Oil Packs
1. Reducing inflammation and pain
Ricinoleic acid, the main fatty acid found in castor oil, has impressive anti-inflammatory and pain reducing properties. One study demonstrated that treatment with a gel containing ricinoleic acid led to a significant reduction in pain and inflammation when applied to the skin, compared to other treatment methods. (1)
With an inflamed intestine and gut, the body will hold water in the abdominal area to decrease the irritation. This leads to excess weight in your abdomen, the so called central obesity. Castor oil packs help to reduce and regulate the inflammation in the abdomen, so that you can work towards that flat belly you are dreaming of.
In addition, it also reduces substance P in the body. The latter is a chemical messenger that promotes the sensation of pain. (2, Vieira C et al. .Effect of ricinoleic acid in acute and subchronic experimental models of inflammation. Mediators Inflamm. 2000;9(5):223-8)
2. Castor oil packs for liver
Castor oil packs help you relax and feel good.
By applying the pack on the body, most commonly the liver area underneath the right ribcage, you stimulate the sensory receptors in the human hairy skin. This sends a message via the sensory receptors on the skin, to the organs inside the body. The corresponding organs that are affected are the liver, pancreas, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, kidney and adrenals. Because the stimulus is soft to the touch and pleasurable, it moves your body into the relaxed state. Studies show that stimulation of the skin lights up the areas of the brain exactly as they do with pleasurable, dopamine-stimulating fatty meals. However, castor oil packs are healthy while fatty meals are not!
You want to make sure that you are using good quality organic cotton flannel that is soft to the touch. It’s because the sensory receptors identity the soft sensation as pleasurable, which promotes the relaxed state. So, the pack is just as important as the oil. If you use the oil on your body without the pack, you will lose the majority of the relaxation benefit.
Why do you need to be relaxed in the first place?
It’s because when you are relaxed you can heal, your digestive system produces all of its juices with ease, e.g. digestive enzymes, bile, hydrochloric acid and immune factors. Therefore, all the supplements and organic food that you are eating will absorb even better if you are using castor oil packs. When your body is in the stressed state, the functions such as cleansing and detoxing will go on maintenance mode instead of being enhanced. Relaxing your body with castor oil packs is the recipe for proper cleansing and detoxification.
Castor oil packs become crucial when you’re on cleanse. It’s because they help avoid cleanse symptoms such as headaches, skin irritation, moodiness, joint/muscle aches and pains. The reasoning behind it is that in the relaxed state your blood flows to your internal organs allowing you to digest, cleanse and reset.
3. Castor oil packs increase glutathione
Glutathione is your master cleansing agent. It is a molecule that helps with elimination of most, if not all, toxic substances from the body including things like heavy metals and excess and used oestrogen. So, castor oil packs for fibroids is a real thing!
Foods rich in glutathione
Glutathione rich foods include spinach, avocados, asparagus, okra, cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, mustard greens), allium family (leek, onions, garlic). Vitamin C helps increase glutathione levels, so eat more strawberries, citrus fruits, papayas, kiwis, bell peppers.
Selenium is an essential mineral and a glutathione cofactor, meaning it’s a substance needed for glutathione activity. So make sure to eat your 1-2 Brazil nuts a day.
However, dietary glutathione is poorly absorbed by the human body. Additionally, cooking and storage conditions can decrease the amount of glutathione found in food.
Milk thistle supplements are another way to boost glutathione levels naturally. Researchers believe that silymarin in milk thistle is able to maintain glutathione levels by preventing cell damage. (3)
Also, researchers conclude that the curcumin found in turmeric may assist in restoring adequate levels of glutathione and improve the activity of glutathione enzymes.
Alternatively, you can also take liposomal glutathione as a supplement.
It’s also important to remember that chronic lack of sleep and lack of exercise may decrease glutathione levels. So, get good restorative sleep every night and exercise regularly.
Castor oil packs and glutathione
Now let’s talk about castor oil packs and glutathione! A recent research study demonstrated that glutathione was increased in rat ocular lenses when they were placed in castor oil, greater than in the ocular lenses placed in actual glutathione. (4, Holm T1, Brøgger-Jensen MR, Johnson L, Kessel L. Glutathione preservation during storage of rat lenses in optisol-GS and castor oil. PLoS One. 2013 Nov 19;8(11):e79620. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079620. eCollection 2013)
This alludes to the benefits of castor oil far beyond what we comprehended.
4. Castor oil packs for constipation
Castor oil packs help with constipation by stimulating smooth muscles of the body. When you are constipated, the junk the needs to come out, keeps recirculating in your body. This builds your toxic load and predisposes you to problems like excess cholesterol, hormone imbalances and much more.
Castor oil stimulates smooth muscle contraction via the prostaglandin EP3 receptors of the body. (5, Tunaru S1, Althoff TF, Nüsing RM, Diener M, Offermanns S. Castor oil induces laxation and uterus contraction via ricinoleic acid activating prostaglandin EP3 receptors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jun 5;109(23):9179-84. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1201627109. Epub 2012 May 21)
Smooth muscle is what the intestines and guts are composed of, as is the uterus. Working with castor oil packs stimulates these to move. That being said, try out castor oil packs instead of using laxatives.
5. Castor oil packs for healthy microbiome, happy gut, and biofilm breakdown
The benefits of healthy microbiome include balanced mood, good bowel movements, reduced abdominal pain including bloating and gas, reduced physical inflammation, improvement of autoimmune and hormonal problems etc.
A very common issue for many people is overpopulation of bad gut bugs, i.e. bad bacteria. The latter take up residency in your gut and steal space from probiotics that do great things for your body. For example, they produce B vitamins and by-products like butyrate, which contribute to gut health. The bad bacteria just wreak havoc. They can even produce a protective layer called biofilm to keep them from being terminated. Biofilm can be so strong that it makes it almost impossible to kill off the bad bacteria. As soon as you’re able to break down the biofilm, you have a much better chance of getting the bad guys out of your system and restoring the peace.
Castor oil is one of very few natural substances that can break down this barrier as efficiently as chemical biofilm breakers like sodium hypochlorite. (6, Badaró MM1, Salles MM1, Leite VMF1, Arruda CNF1, Oliveira VC1, Nascimento CD1, Souza RF1, Paranhos HFO1, Silva-Lovato CH1. Clinical trial for evaluation of Ricinus communis and sodium hypochlorite as denture cleanser. J Appl Oral Sci. 2017 May-Jun;25(3):324-334. doi: 10.1590/1678-7757-2016-0222)
The probiotics you are taking are actually going to work better and provide you with super health if you are able to get rid of biofilm in your gut. Wow, you save money and feel better faster.
Other benefits of castor oil:
- Castor oil is a natural moisturizer as it is rich in ricinoleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. These types of fats act as humectants and can be used to moisturize the skin. Humectants retain moisture by preventing water loss through the outer layer of the skin. (7) It may also help relieve dry, irritated skin in those with psoriasis. Though applying castor oil to the skin is considered safe for most, it can cause an allergic reaction in some people. (8)
- Promotes wound healing – applying castor oil to wounds creates a moist environment that promotes healing, stimulates tissue growth and prevents sores from drying out.
- Reduces acne. Acne is a skin condition that can cause blackheads, pus-filled pimples and large, painful bumps on the face and body. Applying castor oil to the skin may help reduce those inflammation-related symptoms. (9) As acne is also associated with an imbalance of certain types of bacteria, castor oil’s antimicrobial properties may help fight bacterial overgrowth when applied to the skin. (10)
- Antifungal properties. Castor oil has antifungal properties and may help fight off Candida, keeping the mouth healthy. In fact, oil pulling with castor oil may help eliminate Candida albicans from contaminated human tooth roots. (11) Castor oil may also help treat denture-related stomatitis, a painful condition thought to be caused by Candida overgrowth.
- Good for healthy hair and scalp. Applying fats like castor oil to the hair on a regular basis helps lubricate the hair shaft, increasing flexibility and decreasing the chance of breakage. (12) The moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties of castor oil make it an excellent option to keep hair soft and hydrated and help reduce dandruff symptoms.
Cautions With Castor Oil
- Do not use castor oil packs or castor oil while pregnant. It is unknown, but it could possibly cause movement of the smooth muscle of the uterus, enough to terminate the pregnancy. Work with your practitioner. Castor oil is a powerful laxative when taken orally. When consumed by mouth, castor oil is broken down in the small intestine, releasing ricinoleic acid, the main fatty acid in castor oil. The ricinoleic acid is then absorbed by the intestine, stimulating a strong laxative effect. (12)
- While castor oil is considered safe in small doses, larger amounts can cause abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. (13)
- As mentioned above, though applying castor oil to the skin is considered safe for most, it can cause an allergic reaction in some people.
How to Make a Castor Oil Pack
Making your own castor oil pack can get quite messy, which might diminish the odds of you going through with it.
That’s exactly why Dr. Marisol Teijeiro, naturopathic doctor from Canada has designed castor oil pack (compress) that is so easy to use and is totally mess-less and heat-less. It is made from organic cotton without flame retardants on the inside and a non-toxic barrier layer on the outside made from eco and health friendly poly-urethane (PUL).
However, you can definitely make your own castor oil packs as well. Here are the steps to follow:
- Apply 1-2 tablespoons of castor oil onto organic cotton flannel cloth.
Fold the flannel cloth into 2-3 thicknesses first. Some sources say you should add fresh oil onto your pack about every 3-4 days. When the pack is saturated enough reapplication in every 1-2 weeks is needed. However, Dr. Marisol Teijeiro suggests adding fresh oil every time you apply the pack.
- Place the cloth onto your abdomen, liver or chest.
Additionally, cover it with plastic and a bandage to hold it still. If you want, place an old towel also on where you’re laying as castor oil stains.
- Leave it on for at least 45-60 minutes.
With Dr. Marisol’s castor oil pack you can easily sleep with it through the night.
How to Clean Your Castor Oil Pack
Start by soaking the pack in the solution of baking soda and hot water, using four ounces (113 grams) of soda to two quarts (1.9 litres) of water. Do that for at least 20 minutes. (14) If necessary wash it with natural dish soap.
Next, wring it out entirely and allow it to air dry.
Glass Bottle vs Plastic Bottle
Castor oil is a carrier substance as well as a healing agent. In a plastic bottle, castor oil will bind to the chemicals in plastic and bring it into your body.
Moreover, any oils that you’re using in or on your body should be in a glass bottle. Also, organic is better, because it is produced cleaner and has had less exposure to chemicals and pesticides.
Dr. Marisol Teijeiro has a bundle with castor oil pack compress and 500ml of castor oil in dark glass bottle.
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The information shared is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.