Tag Archives: natural breast health

How To Do A Castor Oil Pack the Lazy Way

A castor oil pack is something that sounds not-glamorous. Not-glamorous to the same extent as say a mustard plaster, or possibly even an enema (gasp).  I get that. This isn’t a sexy sounding topic, but the thing is, doing a castor oil pack is one of the simplest, gentlest, best life hacks for liver health, gallbladder function and even women’s hormones and breast health. I honestly think if everyone would do these on a regular basis, we’d have world peace. Okay, not quite world peace, but we’d all be a lot healthier.

What is a Castor Oil Pack?

Simply stated, this is a great way to help your body absorb castor oil through your skin to help the local area (meaning the skin in that area but also the underlying organs and structures) and your health in general. Why, you might ask, do you want to absorb castor oil through your skin?  There’s a whole post on it here, but the quick and dirty is that castor oil topically gives you a tremendous immune boost, anti-inflammatory benefit, and also a gentle detoxification.  Hard to get all of those things anywhere else with so little effort.

The Traditional Castor Oil Pack

There is a formal way to do this, popularized by Edgar Cayce and many other practitioners. I don’t usually do it this way, but it’s probably the best way to do it.

Castor oil pack - picture by Pete Markham from Loretto, USA

Castor oil – picture by Pete Markham from Loretto, USA. This bottle is from the light-keepers house at Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota.

You Will Need:

  • Organic flannel – about 1/2 yard (or meter) of organic flannel, folded into a square
  • Organic, hexane-free castor oil
  • A Mason Jar or something similar to put the saturated flannel in after
  • Plastic wrap to cover the outside of the castor oil (it’s preferable to use something non-plastic, but it’s also messier.)
  • A hot water bottle or heating pad
  • 90 minutes




Directions for a Castor Oil Pack:

  1. Saturate the folded flannel with the castor oil. The first time you do this it will take a fair bit of oil. You want the flannel to be full of oil, but not dripping everywhere.
  2. Put the flannel square over the area you’d like to treat – usually the right side of your abdomen under your rib cage (for liver/gallbladder), but it could be over your lower pelvis (for menstrual cramps, hormone balance, fibroids, or really any other uterine issue), over your breasts for fibrocystic breasts, or even over a sore joint, skin rash or other inflammatory issue.
  3. Wrap the pack and the area of your body that it’s covering with plastic wrap. This has no therapeutic value, but it helps to keep your house clean because castor oil is heavy oil and will stain.
  4. Put a hot water bottle or hot pack over the castor oil pack
  5. Lie back and rest for 90 minutes (NICE!!) This is potentially the best part of the castor oil pack.




So – this is great. It allows your skin to absorb as much castor oil as it possibly can because the cloth is saturated so it can just keep soaking up the oil for that gorgeous 90 minute rest.  The problem is, who *actually* has time for a 90 minute rest? Therapeutically it’s a great idea, but practically it’s a little difficult – hence Dr. Amy’s Slightly Lazy Castor Oil Pack…

Dr. Amy’s Slightly Lazy Castor Oil Pack – Castor Oil Life Hack

This is probably not quite as perfect as the traditional method, but it’s a whole lot easier, and because it’s easier it’s a lot more likely to get done. This is an awesome castor oil life hack.  It’s quick and easy detox, anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving awesomeness.

You Will Need:

  • Organic castor oil
  • A pair of pyjamas that can be dedicated for the rest of their natural lives to castor oil. They will never be the same again.
  • A hot water bottle of heating pad if you want.

Directions for The Lazy Castor Oil Pack:

  1. Slather a good layer of castor oil over the area you want to treat:
    1. Liver/gallbladder – the right side of your abdomen under your rib cage, including your right side and even the right side of your back. Honestly I pretty much just cover my whole stomach and back and leave it at that.
    2. Uterus – slather your whole lower pelvis
    3. Breasts – just cover the whole area
    4. Joints, rashes and other local inflammation – put a good layer over the whole area
  2. Throw on the chosen pajamas
  3. If you have a hot water bottle or hot pack, go for it.
  4. Go to bed for the night
  5. When you wake up the next morning the oil will be absorbed, your body will be working on the castor oil and enjoying the anti-inflammatory benefits, and you really only spent 5 extra minutes putting on the oil.

This method provides an easy way to work this into a busy lifestyle.  Granted, the 90 minute rest has it’s own therapeutic benefit and if you can do it, I would highly recommend it.  If you can’t work that in (like I often can’t) then by all means do the lazy method. This gives you the opportunity to work castor oil in more frequently – even doing it a few times per week.

After having my daughter I was doing lazy castor oil packs over my abdomen and pelvis 3-4 nights per week just to help my body to deal with the anesthetics, surgical recovery and pain.  I feel like my recovery was far more smooth and easy than it otherwise would have been, simply because I was able to use castor oil so frequently.  If I had to take 90 minutes and do the full castor oil pack experience I wouldn’t have been able to fit it in at all.



Keeping Your Breasts Healthy Naturally

In light of breast cancer awareness month I’d like to talk a little bit about keeping your girls healthy and happy and cancer-free. The fact is that there are lots of simple things you can do to stay healthy and help prevent breast cancer.  Simple changes can really add up – but don’t forget the most important thing you can do, which is monthly breast self-exams.  As with any cancer, breast cancer is easiest to treat if you catch it early and take definitive action and so checking regularly is just great self-care. Here’s my favorite way to remind myself:

Keeping Your Breasts Healthy Naturally:

  1. Manage your estrogen – One of the biggest contributors to breast cancer is estrogen dominance, which means that your estrogen levels are too high relative to progesterone levels. We’ll talk about this in more detail because managing estrogen dominance is one of the most important considerations in keeping your breasts healthy naturally.
  2. Don’t take extra estrogen if you’re high risk – if you have genetic risk or a family history of breast cancer than just don’t use birth control or HRT that adds estrogen into your system.  That means no birth control pills, no implants, no shots, no patch.  If you really need a birth control method that isn’t condoms, then consider an IUD – the Mirena IUD actually secretes a small amount of progesterone and so would be very balancing for a woman who normally has high estrogen.  The copper IUD lasts longer (about 10 years for one IUD) but can cause heavy bleeding.  Talk with your doctor to find a solution that is right for you.
  3. Help your Breast tissue – dense or fibrocystic breasts are one of the precursors to breast cancer and also make early detection more difficult. Dense, disorganized or cystic breast tissue may indicate an iodine deficiency. Iodine helps your tissues to grow smoothly and in an organized pattern and so when tissues start to form nodules or changes in density patterns it’ may be an indication that iodine levels are low. Iodine deficiency can also affect thyroid and other hormone levels so this can be a complex problem.  It’s really important to check with your doctor or practitioner if you have thyroid problems before you start taking iodine.  GLA, the beneficial fatty acid from Borage or Evening Primrose Oil can also be extremely helpful for fibrocystic breasts and for keeping your breasts healthy in general. Breast tissue can change and soften with the right nutritional influences and this will help you with both prevention of breast cancer (which is more likely to appear in fibrocystic breasts) and also easier detection. Also for some women caffeine consumption contributes to breast density, sensitivity and nodularity and so limiting caffeine can be beneficial.
  4. Limit the estrogenic chemicals in your life – cut out the phthalates (the chemicals that make plastics soft), the BPA in hard plastics (and if you don’t know about the horrible substitute they’re using called BPS then read up here), the chemical cleaning products, the pesticides and herbicides.  All of these chemicals mimic estrogen in your body and so have the same potential cancer causing effects. Switch to organic foods when you can, especially in meat, milk, butter and eggs. The reason these categories are so important is because antibiotics and hormones are not permitted in organic meat animals or organic dairy animals, but are widely used in conventionally raised animals. If you’re high-risk then this is especially important but I believe every woman should protect herself and her children.
  5. Exercise – This really does make a huge difference in every aspect of your health, especially your risk for chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. In terms of keeping your breasts healthy, exercise increases circulation, increases the rate of lymphatic detoxification in breast tissue and also reduces the total estrogen burden.
  6. Breast self-exams – Breast self exams, as explained by the hunky gentlemen in the previous video who really just want to take care of your breasts (thank you god), help you to ensure  that no lumps pop up quickly.  You can use circular motions to feel the whole area of breast tissue, including under your arms on both sides.  Look for lumps or knots.  Also make sure you look at your breasts in the mirror – dimpling, puckering or inverted nipples can indicate a problem – especially if it starts suddenly.  Also watch for sores or ‘bug bites’ that don’t go away – it is much more rare but there is a form of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer that just looks like a sore or an itchy rash-like spot on the breast that doesn’t heal. Although, I’d suggest watching the video a few times to ensure you have it right. 🙂
  7. Lose Weight – I know. I say that like it’s simple, right?  The issue with carrying extra weight is that fat tissue generates its own estrogen and so carrying extra fat means you are also dealing with extra estrogen – and extra estrogen is the biggest and most important risk factor for breast cancer outside of the BrCA gene.
  8. Eat your veggies and cut down on the meat and dairy – a more plant-based diet helps to reduce your risk and protect your body from many types of cancers, including breast. This diet gives you higher fiber (which helps detoxify estrogens) and more antioxidants and complex polyphenols that reduce your risk even further.
  9. Screening – mammograms are suggested for women over 40 and although there is some radiation exposure they also help with early detection so talk with your doctor about what is right for you.  For women who are truly high risk having a thermogram, or thermal imaging, of the breasts done yearly can be extremely helpful.  Thermal imaging will show problem areas far before you would be able to feel a lump or find anything on a mammogram, although if a spot shows up you will still need to get a mammogram to pinpoint the exact location.  Thermal imaging essentially acts as an early warning system that shows you what to watch.  It also gives you the opportunity to take more aggressive steps if something does show up to prevent it from growing into cancer.




Managing Your Estrogen and Recognizing Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen in women is responsible for all kind of issues and generally it promotes cell growth, weight gain, and moodiness if it’s out of balance or present in high doses. Estrogen dominance is one of the major factors in breast disease including fibrocystic breasts and breast cancer.  Keeping your breasts healthy means recognizing estrogen dominance when it is happening and working to reduce your estrogen burden. Some of the symptoms or indicators that you may be prone to estrogen dominance include:

  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Breast tenderness and heaviness
  • Water retention in hands and feet
  • Irritability, mood swings
  • Depression
  • Uterine fibroids
  • PMS
  • Severe cramping
  • Heavy bleeding and clotting
  • Endometriosis
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Breast cancer

Keeping your breasts healthy means reducing estrogen when it's overloaded, and I'm guessing this woman is overloaded. SCREAMING © Erik Reis | Dreamstime.com Keeping your breasts healthy means reducing estrogen when it’s overloaded, and I’m guessing this woman is overloaded. SCREAMING © Erik Reis | Dreamstime.com

Reducing your estrogens:

30-50 g fiber daily
Exercise – at least 10 minutes daily
Magnesium supplement
B complex supplement
DIM or I3C
Lots of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale
Reduce caffeine
Reduce calorie intake or portion sizes to help yourself lose weight
Boost your water intake to flush out excess estrogen.

Broccoli, cabbage and kale may seem like a strange step, but there is a supplement with the active ingredient from cruciferous vegetables taken out and concentrated. You can find it under two different names.  One is DIM (Di-indole Methane) or I3C (Indole 3-Carbanol).  These are essentially the same thing, just at different points in the metabolic pathway.  Cruciferous vegetables and both of these supplements are powerful estrogen “chelators”, which means that they bind to estrogen to help your body eliminate them.

Fiber and water are both important for this elimination pathway as well because estrogen binds to fiber in your digestive tract which stops it from being reabsorbed.  Water helps to flush everything out of your system, estrogen included. Fiber and water are two of the most important steps towards keeping your breasts healthy naturally.

Losing weight is one of the most important steps you can take to balance your estrogen, simply because your fat tissue makes it’s own estrogen.  How terrifying is that?  In both men and women, fat cells actually make estrogen.

All of these seem like small steps, and it’s true they won’t change your estrogen levels overnight, but sadly, nothing will short of drugs like tamoxifen that are used in breast cancer. Still, taking these steps for three months will produce noticeable results in your PMS, mood swings, estrogen related weight gain and cycle. Also, if you happen to be using tamoxifen then it is imperative that you read this article about preventing tamoxifen resistance using melatonin.

Take care of your breasts ladies – it’s incredibly important.  These days it seems like everyone knows and loves someone who has been touched by breast cancer. We all have mothers or aunts or sisters or friends who have faced this beast, but together we can help to protect ourselves and our loved ones.  Make sure your friends know how to take care of themselves, raise your children doing breast self-exams and practicing good eating habits.  It is never too early or too late to start keeping your breasts healthy naturally.