Castor oil has been used as a medicinal remedy for centuries. Traditionally, it is applied to the scalp to promote strong, healthy hair. Alternatively, Castor oil is calibrated as a dietary supplement / laxative agent to help ease constipation.
Today, Castor Oil has remerged as a topical agent and therapy for muscle soreness and inflammation in the form of Castor Oil Packs. Simultaneously, it's purported for additional benefits including detoxification, and lymphatic drainage.
Castor oil is generally safe for consumption when calibrated by a professional, or a supplement brand with a regulated Natural Product Number (NPN). Always consult your primary care physician, or naturopath before consuming castor oil.
What is Castor Oil?
Castor oil is derived from a bean native to India. Specifically the plant, Ricinus communis. Castor oil is rich in unsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid Ricinoleic Acid (RA), which accounts for approximately 90% of the fatty acids in castor oil seeds . The mechanism of ricinoleic acid is not entirely understood, but some scientific research suggests RA exerts anti-inflammatory, and analgesic (pain relieving) effects .
Alternative RA Mechanisms
Cellular Mechanisms of RA has also been linked to expression of EP3 prostanoid receptor for prostaglandin E2, EP3 prostanoid receptor for prostaglandin E2 (PEG2) - which is where the idea that castor oil seeds induce labour (specifically uterine contractions), functional ovulation, and separate cascade effects including neuropeptide-mediate neurogenic inflammation, mediated lymphocyte expression .
Figure 1. Organic Chemistry: Castor Oil: Functional Groups / Constituent Breakdown, Hierarchy - Ricinoleic Acid + Oleic Acid, Linoleic Acid, a-Linoleic Acid, Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid
Lymphatic Drainage & Detoxification
The heat from a castor oil pack increases blood flow and may improve oxygenation to target tissues increase the lymph flow throughout the body, which eliminates toxins and helps reduce swollen lymph nodes .
Where to Apply Castor Oil Packs
Castor Oil Packs are a therapeutic method to help reduce inflammation, detoxification, and lymphatic drainage. More benefits include how Castor Oil packs can target multiple areas of concern.
Abdomen: You can place Castor Oil packs across your abdomen / torso to cover major digestive and organ sites, including the intestines, liver and gallbladder.
Muscles: Castor oil packs can be applied to strained / tense muscle sites to reduce inflammation and soreness, Including the shoulders, biceps, back, glutes, and calves.
Thyroid: Some brands provide castor packs designed for smaller areas like the thyroid. Castor oil packs are not endorsed as a substitute for professional, medical advice, and you should always consult with your naturopath / doctor prior to use.
How to Use Castor Oil Packs
Castor oils can be used virtually anywhere, as long as your comfortable in the space!!!!!
Note: Castor oil can stain! So, it is best to dedicate an old towel, linen, or shower curtain and avoid delicate surfaces.
Castor Oil Materials
- Hexane-Free Castor Oil
- Organic, Wool Flannel
- Wrap around Sling (plastic wrap can certainly be used, although it isn't ideal compared to the sling)
- A mason jar (I use 1L jar to soak the cotton flannel in in-between each use but 500ml can work)
- Heating Pad
- Towel and Linens to avoid any staining
Note: I did experiment with applying essential oils into my castor solution to enhance the effects. I integrated Ginger EO, and Mint EO when I was targeting muscle soreness / digestion / circulation**
Castor Oil Procedure / Steps
- Get yourself situated in an area where you would like to apply your castor oil pack. You'll have this pack applied for approximately one hour, so it is important to find a comfortable, safe-space to enjoy your time and keep yourself entertained.
- ** This is technically step three, but I always prepare the soak in advance** I soak the castor oil one day in advance, to ensure it is fully, and evenly saturated (but not overly where it's dripping).
- Fold the cotton flannel at least once, sized to your desired area. I use Heritage Store: Natural Wool Flannel Unbleached 30cm x 68 cm (11.8" x 26.7") and find that this size is sufficient for my torso size, but you can trim the Wool according to your preferred size (Torso, Thyroid Zone, etc)
- Soak the flannel in castor oil within a 1L jar (500ml will suffice), to avoid oversaturating, place the flannel in the jar first and add in 1.5 tbsp of castor oils in 20 minute intervals up to a maximum of 60ml.
- Gently shake the jar to ensure the oil is even distributed throughout the flannel.
- Position pack over affected area, and a heating pad if desired.
- The pack can be situated by using a Castor sling, or plastic wrap (not ideal), or just by placing the sheet over your target zone.
- Allow pack to remain for a minimum of one hour (for best results)
- After pack is removed, cleanse skin with solution of baking soda and water (1 tsp and pint).
- Store your castor oil pack in reusable glass container / plastic bag in a cool, dry place.
- Use pack daily or in a regular cycle (ex. 2-3 consecutive days a week) until results are obtained.
You can buy complete castor oil Packs at our shop, or order online for secure, fast shipping.
- Heritage Store: Natural Wool Flannel Unbleached 30cm x 68 cm
- Heritage Store: Castor Oil Nourishing Treatment (946ml)
- NOW: Hexane-Free Castor Oil (473ml)
- Galenova: USP-Grade Castor Oil (473ml)
How many times can I use my castor oil flannel?
Castor oil flannel can be used approximately 30 times. For maximum use, place your sheet in a glass jar stored in a dark, cool place. Discard immediately if there is any indication of mold, bacterial overgrowth.
How many times can I do castor oil packs?
For best results, apply your castor oil for 60 to 90 minutes on 3 days / week cycles for three weeks. Consult your naturopath, or primary health care physician before using, and for long-term use.
Is Castor Oil packs safe to use while Pregnant?
Castor oil packs have been used externally as a natural remedy. However, the literature on the safety, efficacy, and possible interactions are extremely unclear. Avoid unless indicated by your health care professional.
Julia Pasco, B.Psych, is the owner of Kipos Nutrimart Health Foods Store and KIPOS.ca. She has a formal background in psychology, nutrition, pharmacology and life sciences. As a home-keeper and business owner, Julia uses organizational, and holistic techniques to optimize her wellness. The blog articles published are a cumulation of medical and peer-reviewed research articles, and organizational tips to lead efficient, healthier lifestyles.