Castor Oil Packs: Do They Live Up to the Hype?

Feb 6, 2024 | Main Blog | 0 comments

Since natural remedies with ancient ties are coming back in full force, people are less wary and are eager to see if there are convenient healing methods for our modern times. This is where castor oil packs meet that need. A quick Google search for castor oil packs and you’ll get a slew of health articles and links on where to buy it. Everyone from naturopathic doctors to PopSugar are touting the benefits of applying castor oil to your skin or using it orally.

Where does it come from?

Castor oil has been used for healing and beauty purposes for centuries because of its high levels of ricinoleic acid, an unsaturated Omega-9 fatty acid. The oil comes from a seed native to tropical East Africa that is considered deadly. Nevertheless, it has travelled the world because of its oil to places like Egypt, Japan, and Greece. Egyptians used it heavily in their daily lives, whether it was for beauty regimens, lighting their lamps, or their embalming practices. Japanese and Greek healers used it regularly for healing purposes. In the 1900s, Edgar Cayce made the castor oil pack more mainstream when he had his patients use it to support their health. Regarded as safe in moderation by the FDA, people are still taking advantage of its benefits today.

What does it do?

The fatty acid and antioxidants improve the skin’s moisture retention and fight off bad bacteria when used to heal acne, skin irritation, and improve skin elasticity. The anti-inflammatory and blood stimulation properties support the liver’s detoxification process, reduce bloating, and strengthen and help hair growth. These benefits happen from being used topically. However, it can be ingested for digestive support. Being a strong laxative, it is recommended to take a small quantity during the day and only when necessary, so your body doesn’t become dependent on it. This is also why pregnant women should not use castor oil since it will stimulate uterine contractions.

How do I use it?

When using it on your skin, there are many areas that can benefit and a couple of ways to apply it. If applying directly to your skin to help with cell turnover, a carrier oil to dilute is helpful in preventing any irritation. Common carrier oils include jojoba oil and olive oil. You can also use a pack, unbleached cotton soaked in castor oil, for the benefits to get below the skin to the liver, joints, or lymph nodes. There are many different blogs and articles that have instructions on how to make your own castor oil pack. Be mindful of where they instruct you to place the plastic bag or wrap. Heat is involved to allow the oil to be absorbed, and mixing heat with plastic on your skin might not sound relaxing or healthy. Wellness Mama and The Healthy Home Economist  both have good research on what castor oil packs have to offer and how to make one. You can also buy a kit so no plastic or outside heat source is involved since the wrap traps your body heat. You can find some good ones on the market endorsed or sold by doctors.

Discussing using castor oil packs with your doctor is encouraged. Your particular health needs and medication may need to be considered. There are some side effects like nausea, diarrhea, cramps, and skin irritation, so use it where your body benefits from it the most. Like many natural methods to support your health, castor oil’s long history makes it hard to ignore. You may think the packs are a temporary fad, but the long-term benefits are here to stay.

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