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The Incredible Benefits of Castor Oil

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I was first introduced to castor oil packs a few years ago when I was having severe anxiety and estrogen dominance issues. My liver was overburdened and sluggish and I was having a hard time clearing excess estrogen out. I was experiencing a lot of fatigue combined with tons of anxiety and I knew something was off. 

In addition to the estrogen dominance, I learned my cortisol was tanked. At the time I was facing so many acute stressors that turned chronic. I went through a divorce, general life upheaval, alcohol abuse, starting a business, moving out of my home, all within a couple of years time. My body responded to all these stresses for as long as it could, until it threw up the white flag and began downregulating knowing it could no longer sustain responding to that level of stress. 

I had to get control of my nervous system and learn how to support my liver. I incorporated many things to support my body and health and one of them was castor oil packs. 

What is Castor Oil?

Castor Oil is a legendary treatment that dates back thousands of years. They were commonly used by Ancient Egyptians, Indian Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine.

Today they’re an easy and effective home therapy used for a wide variety of reasons from promoting bowel movements to calming inflammation to helping soothe skin conditions. 

Castor oil (Ricinus communis)comes from the Castor Bean and its chemical structure makes it the most unique vegetable oil known to us. 

Castor oil has a special weight that allows it to go deep into the dermis instead of just sitting on top of the skin. This allows it to go directly into circulation and into the lymphatic system. 

It also has a structure similar to prostaglandins which are hormone-like substances we release as an anti-inflammatory, giving castor oil its anti-inflammatory properties.  

Why Do I Need Castor Oil Packs?

Because of castor oil’s unique structural and chemical properties, when applied topically (referred to as a “castor oil pack”) it’s absorbed through the skin into the tissues and circulation below. This increases the circulation of the lymphatic system.

The lymphatic system is like the sewer system of the body. Toxins, excess hormones, dead cells, infections, and heavy metals are collected and cleaned up by the lymphatic system then brought to the liver for filtering and eliminating. 

Castor oil can also break down the protective barrier that opportunistic bacteria, parasites, yeast, and fungi use to protect themselves inside your gut. This protective barrier is called a biofilm and its job is to make it hard for you to eliminate them from your body (the film that collects on your teeth throughout the day before you brush it off is also a biofilm and the same thing happens in your gut only we don’t brush it off allowing pathogens to live undisturbed).

Castor oil can break down that biofilm helping restore balance to your microbiome. 

But one of my favorite reasons to do castor oil packs is because they promote relaxation. It’s like a reset button for your nervous system taking you from frazzled and overwhelmed, to relaxed and peaceful in a matter of minutes. 

It flips the switch from the sympathetic “fight or flight” state where your detoxification and digestion system is halted, and moves you into your parasympathetic state of “rest and digest”.  In the relaxed state your body can cleanse, detox, and clean up the toxins that are in your system. 

Too much time in the sympathetic prevents repair and leads to sickness. We NEED to spend time in the parasympathetic state. We need to practice relaxation. When you’re like I was and stuck in that chronic state of stress, you may need help getting relaxed and castor oil packs help do that. 

Adding these to my evening routine was a game-changer to my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual healing process. 

In addition to supporting detoxification, a healthy microbiome, and relaxation, castor oil packs can also help promote bowel movements, better digestion, calm down inflammation, and help with menstrual cramps. 

The beauty of castor oil packs is you can place it where the benefits are needed and it helps regulate multiple body systems including digestive, hormonal, nervous and immune. 

How Do I Do Them? 

Castor oil packs are easy to do at home. You can either purchase all the items separately (this is what I did in the beginning) or buy a complete castor oil kit (recommended!).

Supplies needed:

  1. High-quality hexane-free castor oil in a GLASS bottle 
  2. Wool or cotton flannel (bleach and dye-free)
  3. Something to wrap it and hold it in place 
  4. Heating pad or hot water bottle (optional)
  5. Glass jar for storing oil-soaked flannel

How to use a castor oil pack:

  1. Pour 2 Tablespoons of oil directly on the center of the cloth 
  2. While laying on an old towel (castor oil stains), place the flannel on desired body part (liver, stomach, thyroid, strained joints, whichever body system you’re supporting)
  3. Place heating pad over the flannel if using 
  4. Lie back and relax for 1 hour to overnight 
  5. Remove pack and place in glass jar 

If you would like to go the easy route, I highly recommend this castor oil kit by Dr. Marisol. This is the one I use and it works like a charm. And because it’s so easy, I do them more frequently and experience more benefits. 

I lay with mine for 1-2 hours with a heating pad and a good book and let my body do what it does best. 

Make time for this and let me know how it goes! 

 Castor oil packs are NOT recommended during pregnancy. 

*Disclaimer: This is not personal medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. I recommend you talk with your doctor.

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Kristen Barrett, FNTP, FDN-P

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