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Castor Oil Pack

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Updated May 16, 2014

Castor Oil Pack
Chris Ware Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

What is Castor Oil?

Castor oil has long been used in folk medicine, dating back to ancient Egypt, for a number of ailments including constipation. It comes from the oil of the castor seed.

Castor oil packs are typically recommended because of their ability to promote healing, reduce inflammation, improve circulation especially lymphatic circulation. It has also been found to reduce symptoms of constipation.

They are typically made with a number of layers of flannel and cold-pressed castor oil which is then placed on the affected area. Castor oil pack can be purchased online from health food stores and online.

Castor oil is derived from the castor bean (Ricinus communis. Although it was once taken orally as a laxative, it's now known to be toxic and is used only externally over unbroken skin. It should only be used after consulting a health care professional.

Learn more about castor oil.

What is a Castor Oil Pack?

A castor oil pack involves the use of cloth soaked in castor oil which is placed on the skin. It's used by some alternative practitioners to enhance circulation and to promote the healing of the tissues and organs underneath the skin. Alternative practitioners also use it to improve liver function, relieve pain, reduce inflammation and to improve digestion.

How is a Castor Oil Pack Made?

Castor oil packs are made by soaking a piece of flannel in castor oil and placing it on the skin. The flannel is covered with a sheet of plastic, and then a hot water bottle is placed over the plastic to heat the pack.

A castor oil pack can be placed on the following body regions:

  • The right side of the abdomen. Castor oil packs are sometimes recommended by alternative practitioners as part of a liver detox program.
  • Inflamed and swollen joints, bursitis, and muscle strains.
  • The abdomen to relieve constipation and other digestive disorders.
  • The lower abdomen in cases of menstrual irregularities and uterine and ovarian cysts.
 

Safety

Castor oil should not be taken internally. It should not be applied to broken skin. It should not be used during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or during menstruation.

Materials

  • Three layers of undyed wool or cotton flannel large enough to cover the affected area
  • Castor oil
  • Plastic wrap cut one to two inches larger than the flannel (can be cut from a plastic bag)
  • Hot water bottle
  • Container with lid
  • Old clothes and sheets. Castor oil will stain clothing and bedding.

Method

1. Place the flannel in the container. Soak it in castor oil so that it is saturated, but not dripping.

2. Place the pack over the affected body part.

3. Cover with plastic.

4. Place the hot water bottle over the pack. Leave it on for 45-60 minutes. Rest while the pack is in place.

5. After removing the pack, cleanse the area with a dilute solution of water and baking soda.

6. Store the pack in the covered container in the refrigerator. Each pack may be reused up to 25-30 times.

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