In ancient Rome, the castor oil plant was called the Palma Christi, or the hand of Christ. 4,000 year-old castor bean seeds have been discovered in Egyptian tombs. Historical documents reveal that castor oil was used medicinally in Egypt, India, and China as well as Persia, Africa, Greece and Rome.
While the castor bean contains toxins that makes it poisonous, the expressed oil only has trace amounts of those toxins. When used externally (rubbed into the skin), castor oil is able to penetrate deeper than any other essential plant oil. Rubbing castor oil on the skin can relieve pain, reduce inflammation, detoxify the body and boost lymphatic circulation.
Castor oil also contains ricinoleic acid, a very unusual fatty acid that can be found only in castor beans and ergot (a fungus). Ricinoleic acid inhibits the growth of many bacteria, viruses, molds and yeasts. This is why castor oil has been known to work well on acne as well as other skin conditions like ringworm, keratoses, scars, and fungal infections.
Castor Oil Packs
Castor oil packs are a traditional holistic treatment for a range of conditions. A castor oil pack is placed on the skin to increase circulation and to promote elimination and healing of the tissues and organs underneath the skin. It is used to stimulate the liver, relieve pain, increase lymphatic circulation, reduce inflammation, and improve digestion.
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 to stimulate the liver; 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 precautions: Castor oil should not be taken internally. It should not be applied to broken skin, or used during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or during menstrual flow.
You Will Need
- A cotton flannel large enough to cover the affected area
- Castor oil
- Plastic wrap cut 1-2" 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)
Place the flannel in the container. Soak it in castor oil so that it is saturated, but not dripping. Place the pack over the affected body part. Cover with plastic. Place the hot water bottle over the pack. Leave it on for 30-60 minutes. Rest while the pack is in place. After removing the pack, cleanse the area with a dilute solution of water and baking soda. Store the pack in the covered container in the refrigerator. Each pack may be reused up to 25-30 times. It is generally recommended that a castor oil pack be used for 3 to 7 days in a week to treat a health condition or for detoxification.