I used to think Epsom Salt Baths were the queen bee, the shining star, the Beyonce of the detox and self-care regime. That is until I finally tried out castor oil packs.
When I first heard about Castor Oil packs I was a little confused. Immediately it brought up images of children being fed spoonfuls of castor oil, with nothing but disgust on their faces. You know what I’m talking about…
Thankfully, nowadays most people have forgone the childhood torture of castor oil and instead embraced this powerful healing tool in another way. The castor oil pack.
What is a castor oil pack you say?
Simply put, a castor oil pack is applying a piece of wool flannel to your body that’s been saturated in castor oil. Add a heat source and a couple towels and you’ve got yourself a castor oil pack. Now the bigger question…why the heck would you want to do that?
Well, for lots of reasons. Castor oil has a bevy of health benefits.
Castor oil comes from extracting oil from the seeds of the plant Ricinus Communis. It has been used all the way back into ancient Egyptian times as fuel for lamps, and balms and ointments for skin. And then of course later on it got its reputation tarnished as a useful but nasty method of relieving constipation. Luckily castor oil packs are bringing back to the love to this healing oil.
Castor oil gets its healing magic from Ricinoleic Acid, the main fatty acid in castor oil. Ricinoleic acid has been shown to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. That means if you have inflamed joints and muscles, it may be time to make friends with castor oil.
This is all just fine and dandy, but when you add a heat source to castor oil the healing benefits get amped up. Castor oil packs can promote the healing of the tissues and organs under the skin. Which means that you can strategically place the pack, depending on what’s going on with your body.
Here’s just a few options:
Got a case of Herxheimer’s going on? Or just looking to give your liver some extra love? Place the castor oil pack on the right side of your abdomen to improve liver function and overall detoxification.
Muscle & Joint Pain
Got an aching back? Are your joints driving you batty? Place the castor oil pack straight on your inflamed muscles or joints for some soothing relief.
Tummy troubles got you down? Place a castor oil pack on your abdomen to improve assimilation and elimination.
For assistance with menstrual irregularities or just lessening those pesky cramps try placing a castor oil pack on your lower abdomen.
Although I do experiment with where I place my pack, my go to is almost always over the liver. As someone who has been in the process of healing from Epstein Barr Virus Reactivation, castor oil packs have been a godsend.
If you are at all familiar with Epstein Barr, you know it can lead to a lot of inflammation and muscle and joint pain. There are days where the pain can make day to day functioning challenging. When those days happen, I know I need to slap a castor oil pack on that night and let the relief begin.
Even if you’re in no pain whatsoever, castor oil packs are just a wonderful self care tool to have in your arsenal. Not only because they reduce inflammation in general, but the whole ritual of doing a castor oil pack forces you to slow down. Literally. Because if you move or squirm around too much you’ll have yourself an oily mess all over your bed or couch.
If you’re on a cleanse or any type of detoxing protocol at all, castor oil packs will help your body remove those pesky toxins in a much more comfortable manner. Castor oil packs promote circulation and assist in moving the lymph. Which means it’ll help get those toxins outta ya, rather than circulating around causing a ruckus. Any time I feel any type of detox symptoms going on whether its brain fog, headache, nausea, I know it’s time to whip out the castor oil pack.
If you need more convincing, I must mention that castor oil packs are incredibly relaxing. Yes, even more than Epsom Salt Baths (well…at least to me). Which is why my favorite time to do them is right before bedtime. Don’t be surprised if you end up falling asleep mid-castor oil pack. They’re that yummy.
A Few Tips…
One thing to consider before test driving a castor oil pack, is that you will need to stay still anywhere from 30-60 minutes to let the castor oil do its thing. This is a rare gift. How often do we give ourselves time to just be still? Not nearly enough. So think about how you’d like to spend that time to amp up the castor oil pack’s healing benefits.
I know Netflix or youtube binging is tempting. But if you want to turn the healing magic up a notch, why not do a guided meditation, dig into that book that’s been sitting unopened on your bedside table, or scribble away in your journal? Or just lay there and listen to some relaxing, healing music allowing your body to start sliding into a restful night’s sleep?
So you ready to try it out?
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 piece wool flannel
1 bottle high quality castor oil (hexane free)
heating pad or hot water bottle
1 gallon sized ziploc baggie
towels (for covering bed or couch)
1 quart sized mason jar (for storing the pack between uses)
Decide where you’re going to do your castor oil pack and place some old towels down to protect sheets and bedding from the oil. Plug your heating pad in and turn it on to allow it to warm up. When I first began using castor oil packs I used the medium setting but now I use high, so follow what feels right for you.
While your heating pad is warming up, fold your wool flannel in thirds so that the wool will be a bit smaller than the gallon sized baggie. This is important and will prevent messiness, so cut the wool flannel a bit if you need to.
Once wool is the correct size, squeeze some castor oil right onto one side of the wool and then spread it around with your fingers to get it soaked in nice and even. Some people say to soak the entire piece of flannel in a bowl of castor oil, but I don’t really feel that’s necessary. And doing that is what leads to huge castor oil messes, which will make you less likely to do them in the future. So just spread it around with your fingers to get it pretty soaked in. Trust me, that will be plenty to get healing benefits.
Now you need to decide if you want to enjoy your castor oil pack in some ratty clothes you don’t mind getting oily, or just go commando. I do castor oil packs clothes free and because of that haven’t experienced any post castor oil pack messes. But do what feels right to you.
Place your castor oil pack on your chosen area, with the oily side face down on your skin. Then place the gallon sized bag right atop the flannel. This will prevent the castor oil from getting all over your heating pad. Then place the heating pad on top of the baggie. I usually put a towel over the heating pad to try and keep it in place and prevent messes.
That’s it! Now just set a timer and let the healing begin. If it’s your first time doing a castor oil pack, you may want to just start out with 30 minutes and work your way up from there. This is not only to see how your body responds, but also because sitting still for that long when you’re not used to it can be challenging.
Remember, treat this time as the healing opportunity it is and do something that will uplift you while the castor oil does its thing. Read a book, listen to an inspiring podcast, meditate, or call a friend and catch up. Whatever would feed your soul and bring you some joy and relaxation in that moment.
Once the timer goes off, carefully remove the heating pad, plastic baggie, and fold your wool flannel in half (oily side facing inward) and then roll it up like a burrito. Store the wool burrito in a quart sized mason jar in the fridge between uses. You can reuse a castor oil pack many times by simply adding a bit more oil each time. But once the wool begins to look discolored it’s time to get some more wool. Same thing if you notice any funky smell…it’s time to get some more wool.
You can also reuse the baggie! Just make sure you fold it with the oily side facing inward.
Post Castor Oil Pack…
I highly recommend jumping in the shower and rubbing a little baking soda on your skin to help remove the castor oil. Doing this consistently is part of the reason I’ve never experienced any messy castor oil debacles.
Pay attention to how you feel the next day. Are you experiencing less pain? Is your digestion better? Less detox symptoms going on? Taking note of these things will help you give the castor oil the credit it’s due. And it’ll motivate you to keep up your castor oil pack routine.
I’ve noticed one side effect of castor oil packs is they always, always, always, leave my body more alkaline. If you want to test this out yourself take your pH before and after your castor oil pack. You will likely be pretty darn impressed by the results.
One last thing…when you are getting your goods together to try out castor oil packs, there are kits available that have the wool, castor oil, along with some wipes altogether. I’ve bought one of these in the past, and although it was a good deal, I tend to just use baking soda to clean the oil off. Which means the wipes have gone unused. But for many people buying the kit may be a good option for just starting out.
If you can’t tell by now, I truly believe in the healing power of castor oil packs. I have felt their benefits myself…and I want others to as well! If you try out a castor oil pack I want to hear from you! What did you experience? Drop me a comment below and let me know how it went.
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