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 – 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Put a hot water bottle or hot pack over the castor oil pack
- 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:
- Slather a good layer of castor oil over the area you want to treat:
- 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.
- Uterus – slather your whole lower pelvis
- Breasts – just cover the whole area
- Joints, rashes and other local inflammation – put a good layer over the whole area
- Throw on the chosen pajamas
- If you have a hot water bottle or hot pack, go for it.
- Go to bed for the night
- 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.