Castor oil has been used for thousands of years throughout many cultures.  Some reports show it being used as far back as 4000BC by the Greeks and India has a rich history of using it in their traditional ayurvedic medical practices.  Medicinally it has been most commonly used as a strong laxative but it has also been touted for its strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic action topically as well as its antimicrobial effect.  Surprisingly, the castor bean, if eaten whole, can be fatal due to a poisonous lectin component called ricin.  When the oil is pressed out of the bean, the toxic ricin is left behind so ingestion of the oil is not toxic, but its purgative (laxative) action is nothing to mess around with without the instruction of a health care professional.  The castor pack, on the other hand, is a different story.  The anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of castor oil make it an easy at home treatment for many aches and pains. 

Here’s a quick rundown of the best way to get relief from castor oil:

  1. Smear the oil over the affected area.
  2. Cover with old flannel that you’ve dedicated to the cause (castor oil stains are forever.)
  3. Put a heat source over top of the flannel.
  4. Lay back and relax for 30-60 minutes to let the heat drive the oil in.

Some of the most common topical uses of castor oil include muscle and joint aches and pains, gas and bloating, gall bladder colic, and menstrual cramps.  It can also be beneficial as a gentle detoxification when placed over the liver.  The liver is the main processing system of the body and helps to eliminate toxins from the blood, if the liver is congested (overloading leading to back up) it cannot do its job as effectively.  Castor oil packs over the liver help relieve this congestion so the body is better able to detox.  Castor oil is inexpensive (a little goes a long way) and available for purchase at most health food and supplement stores as well as here at Emerald City Clinic. 

For more detailed instructions, check out our castor oil pack hand out here on our website —>

By Jenna Jorgensen, ND

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