Castor oil packs are one of my favorite economical ways to gently detox the body. I personally used them on my liver and thyroid when I was recovering from Hashimoto’s disease, and I recommend them to my Nutritional Therapy clients often.
How do castor oil packs help the body?
Lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease. 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.
This is where castor oil comes in. When castor oil is absorbed through your skin (according to Cayce and McGarey) your lymphocyte count increases. Increased lymphocytes speed up the removal of toxins from your tissues, which promotes healing.
What can castor oil packs be helpful for?
- Liver disorders
- Thyroid cysts and nodules
- Non-cancerous uterine fibroids
- Ovarian cysts
- Gallbladder inflammation or stones
- Inflamed joints
- Lymphatic drainage
- Conditions with poor elimination
- Headaches and migraines
- Cysts in the breast tissue
- General liver detoxification
- Lung infections
- To support the immune system during a cold or flu
Here are some examples of how castor oil packs can be used:
- If you are under-converting T4 to T3, daily castor oil packs over the liver can help increase this conversion.
- To help reduce cysts or nodules, you can place a castor oil pack over the thyroid for 15 minutes a day.
- To reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines, you can do a castor oil pack over the liver once daily for one month and see if this makes a difference.
- For congested lymph nodes (under the arms, on the neck, etc.) do a castor oil pack directly over the area of concern.
- To support the immune system.
- Do a castor oil pack over the entire abdomen daily to help ease constipation.
- To support the liver, (along with a nutrient-dense diet) do a castor oil pack over the liver daily.
A castor oil pack is very easy and only requires a few supplies. The castor oil and cotton flannel last for many, many months, so don’t worry about running out any time soon.
Here’s what you need:
1. A bottle of organic castor oil. I recommend Heritage Store, or Premier Research Labs
2. A piece of organic cotton flannel
3. A heating pad or hot water bottle
4. A large gallon-size ziploc bag
5. An old towel (castor oil permanently stains, so it’s best to use an old towel)
How to do a castor oil pack:
1. Place the piece of flannel in a large glass dish (glass Tupperware works great!).
2. Drizzle castor oil over the flannel until it’s saturated.
3. Plug in the heating pad next to your bed and turn it on to medium or fill up your hot water bottle.
4. Set the dish with the flannel, the ziploc bag, and old towel on your nightstand or next to the bed.
5. Lie down and place the cotton flannel on the area of concern. For example: the liver, thyroid, breast, joint, etc.
6. Put the ziploc bag on top of the flannel.
7. Place the heating pad or hot water bottle on top of the ziploc and flannel.
8. Place the old towel on top of the heating pad.
9. Lie down for 1-2 hours, remove and wipe the area with the old towel to remove any castor oil.
10. Repeat as necessary.
When is a castor oil pack not recommended?
It’s not recommended to do a castor oil pack over the abdomen if you have an IUD because it could cause the IUD to dislodge or release excess copper into the system. It’s also not recommended when pregnant, breastfeeding, during menses, if there is internal bleeding, or if you struggle with IBS, Colitis, or diarrhea.
How do I store the castor oil pack?
I recommend storing it in a glass Tupperware or some other kind of glass or ceramic dish.
How many times can I use the cotton flannel?
You reuse the flannel over and over. If it starts to discolor or have an off smell, then it’s best to replace it. You can usually use one piece of flannel for about 9 months.
Do I wash the flannel after each use?
No. You won’t be able to get the castor oil out of the flannel, so it’s best to not try and wash it. As long as the flannel has been on clean skin, then using it over and over is fine.
What does it mean if I get a rash near my liver when I do a castor oil pack?
This can be a sign of an allergy or a sign that the body is being pushed a bit too hard. If you have a reaction, I recommend wiping off the castor oil and waiting until the rash goes away before trying again. If you find you have an allergy to castor oil, then do not do another castor oil pack. And, of course, always consult with your practitioner.
What does it mean if I do a castor oil pack over my thyroid and it gets red, itches or I get a rash?
If you do a castor oil pack over your thyroid and you get any kind of rash, this can be a sign that your liver needs some additional support. I recommend doing a castor oil pack over the liver for 3-4 weeks, and then doing the castor oil pack again over the part of the body that was reacting (like the thyroid, abdomen, etc.) and see if there is still a reaction. If you keep having a negative reaction, always consult with your practitioner.
Can children do castor oil packs?
They are very gentle and can often be used for children ages around 3 and up. A castor oil pack for about 20 minutes over the abdomen can be helpful. And, of course, always consult with their pediatrician before starting any kind of natural therapy like castor oil packs.
Note: This post was originally published on May 21, 2014 and updated on May 25, 2018.