The what, why and how of castor oil packs

Help detoxify the liver naturally, improve lymphatic circulation and reduce inflammation—all from the comfort of home.

Used for thousands of years, castor oil is a vegetable oil made from the seeds of the castor oil plant—ricinus communis. Over time, castor oil has been used for a variety of things—from ancient Egyptian healing to a lubricant for wheels on carts and wagons.

Benefits of using castor oil

Today, castor oil used topically can:

  • Help the liver to cleanse the body
  • Reduce joint inflammation
  • Ease digestion discomfort
  • Aid in menstrual cycle pain
  • Moisturize skin

Before using castor oil—be sure to check with your healthcare provider. For example, if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or have some medical conditions, you should not use castor oil packs.

How to use castor oil at home

Whether you opt to purchase a castor oil kit (easy to find online), or make one on your own there are a few essential components:

  • Castor oil (hexane-free)
  • Unbleached cotton flannel, cut to fit areas of the body where you plan to use
  • A large piece of cotton flannel or plastic wrap to cover and hold the pack in place
  • Heating pad or hot water bottle
  • Glass storage container for storing oil-soaked material when not in use

The idea is that placing soaked fabric on your skin will allow for better absorption than just massaging oil directly into the skin. Making and using a pack includes:

  • Soaking pieces of cotton flannel in castor oil
  • Placing the soaked flannel on your body and cover with the larger piece of fabric or plastic wrap
  • Putting a heating pad on top of the pack
  • Relaxing for about an hour while the pack does its magic
  • Removing the pack, storing it in the fridge in a glass container
  • Cleaning the area that had the pack—castor oil can stain your clothes

A pack can be placed on:

  • The right side of the abdomen to help support the liver and digestive system
  • Joints or muscles to reduce inflammation
  • The lower abdomen to help with menstrual pain

More ways to improve wellbeing

Visit the George Wellbeing Center—we’re happy to help you determine which care practices can help round out your total wellbeing. Find us on the skyway (second) level of the Dayton YMCA in downtown Minneapolis.