What is castor oil?

Have you heard of or used castor oil before? I have successfully prescribed castor oil for many years now for myself, my family and friends as well as for my clients, and have seen it work very well for a number of complaints.

As a relatively unknown and thus greatly underutilised remedy, castor oil deserves a permanent place in our home medicine kits.

Castor oil has long been valued as an inexpensive, easy to use and highly effective home remedy for detoxing the liver and gastrointestinal tract, healing the skin, decreasing inflammation and pain, and calming the emotions.

The oil is made from the castor bean plant (Ricinus communis). The main active (therapeutic) ingredient of the oil is called ricinoleic acid. The exact mechanisms of action for this amazing plant have not been fully understood as yet, with a few animal studies confirming its anti-inflammatory and pan relieving properties (1).

Most of the therapeutic applications come from traditional/ folk medicine uses in many parts of the world.

Main uses for topical castor oil include:

  • Digestion – castor oil applied over the liver and abdomen helps to treat liver congestion, hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, gall bladder disease and stones. For anyone looking to cleanse the liver or eliminate gallbladder sludge, the pack is a vital part of any treatment. It’s also highly effective for constipation (2), IBS, inflammatory bowel disease, abdominal pain and inflammation, bloating, bowel adhesions, and any infections in pelvic organs such as bladder infections.
  • Pain, inflammation and swelling– topical castor oil is successfully used to relieve pain and inflammation of any sort including joint pain and inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, bursitis or tendinitis, muscle and ligament sprains, as well as uterine cramping and abdominal pain related to menstruation.
  •  Skin– castor oil can help with bacterial or fungal skin infections, eczema, acne, rashes, boils, abscesses, age spots, sebaceous cysts, warts, prevents and lessens stretch marks and ringworm. It quickly calms skin rashes through its strong anti-inflammatory action, and softens the skin making it a great natural beauty aid.
  • Lymphatic and immune systems – lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease. Lymphatic system is a major part of the body’s detoxification processes. The oil relieves painful and swollen lymph nodes and helps to move the lymph throughout the body enhancing its detox capacities. It also helps to support and rejuvenate the immune system via its actions on T-cells and prostaglandins (3).
  • Sleep – castor oil is also helpful for better sleep which makes the pack a good night time self-care technique to help with insomnia and feel calmer and more relaxed. This action is possibly linked to the oil’s anti-inflammatory properties.

How to make a castor oil pack