What is it?
Castor oil has been used for centuries in many ways to treat a wide variety of health conditions. The oil is derived from the seeds of the castor plant. They contain very high concentrations of a special fatty acid called ricinoleic acid which is thought to underlie its healing properties. However castor beans also contain a potent toxin called ricin, which has been used for chemical warfare. There is absolutely no danger of this being present in the castor oil itself though, castor oil is completely safe and is known to help many conditions
- Castor oil is claimed to treat gastrointestinal and genitourinary problems, all types of infections, and pain and inflammation, and is said to stimulate your immune system;science is also exploring the use of ricinas an anti-tumor agent
- Advocates claim castor oil is most effective for strengthening your lymphatic system when it is applied topically in a “castor oil pack,” a treatment popularized by the late psychic healer Edgar Cayce.
What does castor oil do?
The benefits of castor oil packs were popularized by the late psychic healer Edgar Cayce, and then later researched by primary care physician William McGarey of Phoenix, Arizona, a follower of Cayce's work and the author of The Oil That Heals. McGarey reported that, when used properly, castor oil packs improve the function of your thymus gland and other components of your immune system. More specifically, he found in two separate studies that patients using abdominal castor oil packs had significant increases in lymphocyte production compared to placebo packs.
Lymphocytes are your immune system's disease-fighting cells and are produced and stored mainly in your lymphatic tissue (thymus gland, spleen, and lymph nodes). Hundreds of miles of lymphatic tubules allow waste to be collected from your tissues and transported to your blood for elimination, a process referred to as lymphatic drainage. When your lymphatic system is not working properly, waste and toxins can build up and make you sick.
Lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease. Castor oil is absorbed through your skin and (according to Cayce and McGarey) it increases your lymphocyte count. Increased lymphocytes will speed up the removal of toxins from your tissues, which in turn will promote healing.
How is castor oil used?
There are several ways to use castor oil topically. You can simply rub castor oil onto an affected area of your skin. Or you can soak some gauze or a plaster in castor oil, if only a very small area needs to be treated. For larger or more systemic applications, it can be used as massage oil, which is reported especially effective when applied along your spinal column, massaged along your lymphatic drainage pathways. But the best option is the "castor oil pack." Castor oil packs can be an economical and efficient method of infusing the ricinoleic acid and other healing components of castor oil directly into your tissues.
What you need:
· High quality cold-pressed castor oil
· A hot water bottle
· Plastic wrap, sheet of plastic, or plastic rubbish bag
· Two or three one-foot square pieces of wool or cotton flannel, or one piece large enough to cover the entire treatment area when folded in thirds (A4 size-ish)
· One large old bath towel
How to make a castor oil pack:
- Fold flannel three layers thick so it is still large enough to fit over your entire upper abdomen or liver, or stack the three squares.
- Soak flannel with the oil, by pouring it slowly over the flannel, making sure it doesn’t drip off the edges. Stop when it looks like the surface of the flannel is saturated with the oil. The oil should be at room temperature.
- Lie on your back with your feet elevated (using a pillow under your knees and feet works well), placing flannel pack directly onto your liver (after about 45 mins or more, you can move the pack onto the abdomen or the chest to cover the lungs and thymus and leave there for another half hour or so). Cover the oiled flannel with the sheet of plastic, and place the hot water bottle on top of the plastic.
- Cover everything with the old towel to insulate the heat. Take caution not to get the oil on whatever you are laying on, as it can stain. If necessary, cover that surface with something to protect it.
- Leave pack on for 45 to 60 minutes.
- When finished, remove the oil from your skin by washing with just soap and water, or rub it in or wipe it off with towel. (Be sure to wash the towel by itself, as the castor oil can make other clothes smell and stained with grease if washed together.)
- You can reuse the pack up to 40 times or replace it after it begins to change colour. Each time you use it add more oil as needed to keep the pack saturated. Store the pack in a large zip-lock bag or other plastic container in a convenient location, such as next to your bed (you can also leave it in the fridge).
For maximum effectiveness, apply at least three consecutive days per week for three weeks, having one week off per month (for women stop using castor oil during menstruation, post-menopausal women should have a week off too). As castor oil packing does increase the release of toxicity from the cells, it means that the toxins will be released into the blood stream and will then be filtered out by the liver, and so it is important that you use other techniques, such as enemas, to make sure the toxicity is released from the body completely so it is not reabsorbed or circulated around the body to settle elsewhere.
Be Cautious when Purchasing Castor Oil - As with everything else, you must be careful about your source of castor oil. Much of the oil currently sold in stores is derived from castor seeds that have been heavily sprayed with pesticides, solvent-extracted (hexane is commonly used), deodorized, or otherwise chemically processed, which damages beneficial phytonutrients and may even contaminate the oil with toxic agents. For a good source click here.
Castor oil packing is one of the techniques that I integrate into the personalised naturopathic health programs that I create for my clients. For more information about how you can have a health plan created for you click here.