When my patients experience menstrual cramps, not only do I serve up some delicious acupuncture, but I highly recommend castor oil packs!
Castor oil packs are effective for relieving all kinds of physical pain (menstrual cramps, muscular and joint pain, arthritis), detoxing organs (especially the liver), and addressing fibroids (including fibroid pain and shrinking them), among its many uses. These are incredibly effective topical applications that I can vouch for from personal experience, and from my patients’ experiences!
It is also said to be helpful for skin conditions, such as acne and stretch marks, helps to thicken the hair and eyebrows, condition hair, and heals warts, boils, and smoothes wrinkles. It is also supposed to be helpful in certain internal uses. However, for the purposes of this post, I won’t be exploring these methods. (Make sure to do lots of research before ingesting castor oil, since it can be toxic if used incorrectly!)
Castor oil comes from the castor seed, Ricinus communis. It’s also been called “Palma Christi”, or “Palm of Christ”, due to the large, beautiful palmate leaves. It’s been used therapeutically for centuries in Ancient Egypt, China, Persia, Africa, Greece, Rome, and eventually in 17th Century Europe and the Americas.
However, it was medical clairvoyant Edgar Cayce (March 18, 1877 – January 3, 1945), otherwise known as “The Sleeping Prophet”, and considered to be the father of holistic medicine, who popularized using castor oil packs. He especially promoted using it to detoxify the liver. This was done by applying the castor oil pack over the liver area (the liver is located behind the lower border of the right rib in the abdominal area).
A study published in the Journal of Naturopathic Medicine in 1997 found that daily use of castor oil packs can increase the production of T-lymphocytes, which plays an important part in your immune system.
And, because castor oil has been found to have a strong suppressive effect on some tumors, it has been helpful for fibroids and cysts. As some of you may already know, from my previous blog post, “When Healers Get Fibroids: Part II: My Recovery After Laparoscopic Myomectomy”, I used castor oil packs pre-surgery to address fibroid pain and to shrink my fibroids. I could feel it relieving my fibroid pain, and could feel the fibroids changing and shifting post-treatment. Even though I hadn’t had a sonogram yet to confirm it, I knew the fibroids were shrinking. However, in my case, it turns out my fibroids were too symptomatic, numerous, and large by that time to wait for the natural course of treatment to take place.
In general, castor oil packs are excellent for all sorts of gynecological issues, including promoting fertility, since it stimulates healthy circulation in the reproductive area, which is important for clearing out toxins, dead or foreign tissues, and old blood.
And, it’s a rock star when it comes to menstrual cramps! When you’re having your menstrual flow, and you’re getting cramps, just apply it over the lower abdomen, relax, and read, watch tv, or take a nap, while the pack does its work. Because it helps to ease obstructions in the channels, you may experience a slightly heavier flow after using it. Although it’s obvious that one would use castor oil packs for menstrual cramps when you’re actually having your period, it is proactive to start using castor oil packs 1 or 2 days before it begins, to help address the cramps before they start.
A note if you suffer from heavy periods: since castor oil packs are very moving, I do NOT recommend using castor oil packs when you’re experiencing a very heavy flow, as the packs may increase that flow!
These packs are very nourishing, and it feels wonderful to take care of yourself, as well as unplug from running around. And, if you’re anything like me, always on the go, this carved out time for self-care is a great way to get still and appreciate the downtime.
Castor oil packs are effective for all kinds of muscular and joint pain, and you can just apply it where it where the pain is. People with back pain will love the results. It may seem superficial to just place a simple pack on top of the skin and expect it to create relief deep within, but it does!
In addition to increasing the immune system, it appears to have a calming effect on the autonomic nervous system, increases liver activity, and improves digestion.
How do you make a castor oil pack?
What you need:
- Castor oil (I prefer the Heritage Store brand, excellent quality, pure, and hexane-free)
- Flannel cloth (wool or cotton is fine, as long as it’s thick, and is two or three thicknesses when folded, these are often sold in health food stores near the castor oil, and are often labeled, “for use with castor oil packs”)
- Saran wrap
- Hot water bottle of electric heating pad
- Unfold your flannel cloth, enough so it covers the area to be treated, but still folded up in thirds. (After many applications, you’ll see the importance of keeping its thickness so the oil doesn’t seep through the single layer.)
- Apply castor oil to one side of the flannel cloth, so it’s saturated, but not dripping. Some people like to heat up the oil first, but, as long as the castor oil is room temperature, it’s ready to go.
- Place the saturated side of the cloth on the affected area. If you’re addressing menstrual cramps, fibroids, cysts, or other gynecological conditions, apply it over the lower abdomen. For digestive disorders, apply over the navel. To detoxify the liver, apply over the liver area, located below the right side of the ribcage. For muscular or joint pain, or arthritis, apply over the area of pain.
- Take a piece of saran wrap big enough to cover the saturated cloth, plus a little extra to cover the edges. The saran wrap will not only insulate the heat and make a more effective treatment, but will keep any errant oil drippings contained.
- Apply the hot water bottle or electric heating pad on top. Some people choose to secure everything in place with a towel over the heating element, but it’s not necessary.
- Relax and take in the nourishing, healing treatment for 30-60 minutes. Some choose to meditate or think about the healing effects. However, since I do much meditation earlier in the day, already, I catch up on my mind numbing DVR’d shows on tv, and enjoy the warming and calming treatment! You can read or take a nap, too. Either way, make sure you’re lying down, or reclining, during the treatment.
- After removing the pack, you can simply wipe off the residue with a paper towel. If you like, you can make a cleansing mixture of a quart of water, and add two teaspoons baking soda, and apply it to cleanse the area that was treated.
- If you are shrinking fibroids or cysts, or did a detoxing liver treatment, chase your treatment with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, internally, to help move the toxins out.
You can fold the cloth and store it in the fridge in the ziploc container it came in. It can be used for up to 30 sessions, or until it’s too saturated or dirty to be effective.
The castor oil does not need to be refrigerated, but it will improve its shelf life. Once opened, it can keep indefinitely. But, if it’s been longer than a year, check for rancidity, just to be safe.
For full effect, use at least 4 days consecutively per week for a month. For shrinking fibroids, daily would actually be best. Since everyone is different, fibroid shrinkage rate, as well as whether or not fibroids may fully resolve, may vary. You may feel relief within a few treatments for muscular aches and strains.
This article is not meant to replace medical advice, but to offer tips on how to use castor oil packs. Make sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner for your particular condition.
How have castor oil packs helped you?
Drop me a line in the comments below, and let me know!
After checking out the above article, please make sure to read through the following comment thread thoroughly, since there are many of you who may share similar inquiries. Thanks, and happy healing!
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