Castor oil is a thick oil that comes from the seed or beans of the Ricinus communis plant. Taken orally, castor oil is a strong purgative, meaning it will get your bowels moving. Some people use it as a solution for constipation, but there are many other safer, more effective ways. Others use it to try to get labor going – I was in that camp once-upon-a-time because at 42 weeks gestation it was that or induction, so I went for the castor oil. But I can tell you from experience that its pretty gross, it causes a lot of cramping, and I just wouldn’t recommend taking it that way if you can help it! What I do recommend though, is castor oil packs for your liver. They’re safe, effective, inexpensive and can help with liver detoxification, lymphatic cleansing and immune function.I know I talk about detoxification a lot, but it’s because it is so important. I know a subset of my readers are also people who deal with chronic illnesses such as Lyme disease, and detoxification is a key part of their treatment. Others are simply interested in natural, at-home health-boosting modalities. Castor oil packs are an easy way to help detoxify in the comfort of your own home, in less than 1/2 hour, for literally a few pennies.
Castor oil has some amazing health benefits and helps support detox when used topically. The oil is very anti-inflammatory, increases circulation locally to where it is applied, helps break down fibrotic or scar tissue and increases detoxification. It can help draw toxins from the lymphatic system into the circulatory system where they can be expelled from the body, and in stimulating the lymph system can also stimulate lymphocyte activity, which gives your immune system a boost.
The best way to use castor oil is to apply it over the liver, which is found on your right side, under your rib cage. Many people talk about making a castor oil pack, which is just a way to apply castor oil using a wool cloth. I like to make it easy so here is what I do.
1.) Start with a quarter-size amount of the oil in your hand.
2.) Massage it over the liver in little circles.
3.) Cover by wearing an old tee-shirt (it does stain).
4.) Add a heating pack over it to help drive the oil in.
5.) Relax for 30 minutes, then rinse off.
For people with chronic health issues, we suggest doing it every day for 3-4 days, then taking a couple of days off. For general health/ detox, once or twice a week is a good maintenance strategy.
Castor oil packs can also be done over areas of pain and injury because of their anti-inflammatory benefit. So if you have a sore knee, or injured shoulder, or aching lower back, you can use the same technique for those areas too.
If you’re interested in learning more about the healing properties of castor oil, here’s a good book about it – The Oil That Heals. Here’s a good organic castor oil that I like – Molivera Organic Castor Oil.
If any of you were force fed castor oil in your orange juice by your grandmother, fear not, you do not need to ingest a drop to get the benefits. Trust me having gulped it down while 42 weeks pregnant, the thought of drinking it makes me cringe too! But the castor oil packs are simple and can help boost your immune system, support detoxification and reduce inflammation in your body.