Note: This picture is not a picture of the castor bean. It is a papaya! I was intrigued by the pentagon shape when I cut it. And since I didn't have a picture of the castor bean, here it is, hopefully for you to enjoy as well.

What is Castor Oil?

Castor oil is derived from the bean of Ricinus communis or Palma Christi plant (palm of Christ). The Palma Christi has been used therapeutically for centuries in the folk medicine of ancient India, China, Persia, Africa, Greece, Rome and the Americas.  Taken internally, castor oil is a strong cathartic.   As an external oil pack, it has been used to treat a variety of health conditions such as arthritis, liver and intestinal disorders, tumors, breast and ovarian cysts, fibroids, congestion of abdominal organs, small benign cysts, skin conditions and adhesions from surgery.  Wherever there is congestion, decreased blood flow and need for healing, castor oil can be an effective treatment option.

How does Castor oil work?

Research has shown that castor oil has a unique chemical profile rich in ricineoleic acid which in nature exists only in castor oil. Double blind studies conducted by the Association for Research and Enlightenment, Inc. demonstrated that in the group that used castor oil packs, there was an increase in lymphocyte production and the level of activity of T-cell lymphocytes originating from bone marrow and the thymus gland. These lymphocytes are used in the body to identify and kill invaders such as virus, bacteria and fungi.

In addition to strengthening the immune system, castor oil appears to have a balancing effect on the autonomic nervous system, increasing liver activity and improving digestion.

When castor oil is absorbed through the skin from packs, several extraordinary events take place. The lymphocyte count of the blood increases as a result of the oil's positive influence on the thymus gland, lymphatic tissue, or both. The flow of lymph increases throughout the body, speeding up the removal of toxins surrounding the cells and reducing the size of swollen lymph nodes. The end result is a general overall improvement in organ function with a lessening of fatigue and depression.

Additionally, as toxicity is reduced, the pH of the saliva becomes less acidic, signaling improved health, and the Peyer's patches in the small intestines more efficiently absorb fatty acids, which are essential for the formation of hormones and other components necessary for growth and repair.

What is a castor oil pack and how is it used?

You can use a castor oil pack on your abdomen, or any area that is calling for attention and needs healing, or you can simply soak your feet for 30 minutes in a pan of warm castor oil, followed by a nice foot rub.

Instructions for preparing a castor oil pack follow:


Unbleached white wool or cotton flannel (or more cheaply, you can purchase Gerber Organic Diaper inserts in packs of 6 at Target, Walmart or Penny's - the material may be organically grown, but they are so white they must be bleached, so wash before you use them)

Towels and unbleached parchment paper or brown paper bags (to reduce staining)

Heating pad, hot water bottle, or hot stones

Directions for preparing:

1.  Pour castor oil in a jelly jar and place in a pot with water. Heat water until castor oil becomes warm.

2. Place parchment paper, or a brown paper bag, on a flat cookie sheet, then place the cloth on top. Pour the hot castor oil on the flannel or cloth until it is well saturated but not dripping.  (The pan allows you to pour without messing and to easily carry it.)

3.  Protect the bed, couch, floor or other surface where you will rest with a towel before lying down.

3.  Place the castor oil soaked cloth over the area to be treated, (the unbleached parchment paper or paper bag will now be on the top).

4.  Cover and secure everything with a heavy towel; this helps to retain the heat and keeps the heating source from getting oil on it.

5. Apply a heat source (heating pad or hot water bottle) on top of the towel and maintain a constant warmth throughout the treatment.  An alternative method without heat would be to secure the pack with a towel wrapped and pinned around your body, and leave in place overnight.   

6.  Relax for 1-1 ½ hours and repeat 3 days in a row.  

7.  When you remove the pack, massage the remaining oil into the skin or clean it off with a solution of 2 tablespoons of baking soda mixed in 1 quart of warm water. This is very effective when followed with Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy.

8.  You may save the same pack and reuse it each day, just pouring more castor oil on each day.  Each cotton flannel pack may be reused 4-6 times if between usages it is kept in a plastic container and refrigerated. Packs can be stored in a plastic bag or glass jar for six months to a year as long as it does not become rancid or soiled. With use, the pack gradually absorbs toxins.  Therefore, after a maximum of 6 uses, discard the pack and make a new one. It is not recommended to try to wash out the pack for re- use nor should it be shared among persons.

9.  After 3 days of castor oil packs, continue for the next three days with self-care only, massaging the abdominal area with olive oil.

10.  Rest on the seventh day.

Relax while doing the castor oil pack, listen to soft music, meditate, journal or read.  Quietly meditating will connect the mind and body healing energies and assist the spiritual essence of the plant to assist in your healing.  Journal any thoughts, feelings, or images that occur during this meditative treatment.

PLEASE NOTE: Heat should not be used in conditions where it is normally contraindicated, such as appendicitis, diabetic neuropathy, heavy bleeding or over the abdomen during pregnancy. However, the castor oil pack can be used without heat in these conditions.

Consult your health care provider if you have any questions.

On rare occasions, a rash can occur at the site. To avoid this you can wash the oil off after your treatment with a weak solution of 1 TBL baking soda to one cup of warm water.