Remedies

What is a castor oil pack?

October 27, 2021

I’m Dr. Lindsay
I'm a naturopathic pediatrician based in Colorado Springs offering primary care, chronic care & telemedicine appointments. I'm so glad you're here!
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A castor oil pack is a naturopathic therapeutic technique using castor oil applied externally to heal areas of inflammation.

The most common application is over the liver and intestines to soothe digestive complaints.

The process has multiple variations, but generally entails applying a thin layer of castor oil to the area, covering it with a flannel or other non-permeable cloth and allowing it to soak in for approximately 45 minutes or more.

How castor oil packs heal the Liver


Castor oil contains a unique constituent called ricinoleic acid, which has been shown to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects on par with capsaicin. …That’s what makes it a go-to remedy in the naturopathic repertoire.

The oil’s healing properties can be applied to just about anywhere there’s inflammation. Because most modern-day ailments stem from toxicity, applying the pack over the liver helps it do it’s job, which reduces the total body burden.

Castor oil packs help many things

The incredible anti-inflammatory properties of castor oil are beneficial all over the body. For example:

  • heals dry skin patches
  • reduces joint pain
  • speeds muscle recovery
  • helps repair soft tissue injury
  • aids hair growth
  • reduces eye puffiness

My personal favorite is the digestive repair that happens when we apply castor oil over the abdomen. Not only does it stimulate bile flow and reduce toxicity in the liver, it also encourages cell repair in the intestinal lining, improves motility, encourages well-formed stool, and helps detox the intestinal tract.

Castor Oil and BM’s

Did you know that the frequency of your bowel movements can indicate different issues within the body?

The daily ideal bowel movement should be the unique length of your wrist to your elbow. Now this can be in one big stool or 1-4 smaller stools that approximate this length.

Whether you’re going too much or not enough, castor oil packs help to regulate bowel movements.

Is castor oil dangerous?

Castor oil may raise red flags for some, especially if you’ve been pregnant. When ingested, castor oil is a highly effective bowel stimulator, activating bowel contractions and the process of peristalsis, which moves stool to the rectum for evacuation. This stimulation is dangerous for pregnant women as it may also trigger uterine contractions and lead to premature delivery. However, in many cultures, castor oil is a common remedy for severe constipation and is prescribed at a dose of 1-3 tablespoons daily. This can be a dangerous treatment if a bowel obstruction is present.

Ricin protein is another concern people often have, after a particular episode of “CSI: Miami” which showcased ricin protein being used as a chemical weapon. It’s important to note that ricin protein is not present in the castor oil.

Kids and Candida

Have you ever heard of Candida overgrowth? It’s when yeast grows out of control in our system and causes symptoms like:

  • Bloating/ Gas
  • Constipation
  • Foggy brain
  • Skin rashes
  • White coating on tongue
  • Sugar cravings
  • Urinary tract infections

Castor oil is one of the only natural substances with the ability to break down biofilm (the gross, slimy protective layer bad bacteria can produce).

How does castor oil work?

Castor oil is a very unique vegetable oil, coming from the castor bean. It contains 90% ricinoleic acid, and the remainder is linoleic and oleic acid.

The ricinoleic acid has a unique fatty acid structure that is strikingly similar to that of Prostaglandin E1. In human speak, that means it is a strong anti-inflammatory agent in our body.

And if that wasn’t enough science for you, the ricinoleic acid has a low molecular weight of 298 Daltons. Why does that matter? Because any constituent must be under 500 Daltons in order to absorb through the skin’s surface, also called transdermal absorption.

Fun fact: collagen is 300,000 Daltons. (makes you rethink that expensive moisturizer, huh?)

What type of castor oil should I buy?

  • 100% pure
  • Cold pressed
  • Glass bottle (plastic chemicals may be absorbed by the oil)
  • Hexane-free

Where can I get a castor oil pack?

The best castor oil pack I have ever seen is this one created by my colleague. It contains the mess better than any other method out there. Before finding this kit, I used to recommend using a flannel cloth covered by a layer of plastic wrap! This is a common recommendation in the naturopathic field, it’s how I was taught in school. However, every time I explained it I felt so silly. Thankfully, Dr. Marisol saw the need and came up with a product that is so much better. After I tried it myself, I immediately became an affiliate so I could give all of you easy access to it.

What I love most, is you can reuse the wrap. With the flannel cloth method, it would get sticky and disgusting, and you’d have to store it in a plastic bag between uses to prevent the mess from spreading. This wrap is easy to roll up and store, mess-free. And after 3 months of use, you simply throw it in the top rack of your dishwasher to clean it.

This is a highly effective household healing tool that everyone should own.

get yours

Can children use castor oil packs?

Yes, castor oil packs are safe for children to use, also. It’s an essential therapy that aids gentle detox. I often recommend it for my patients after vaccinations, mold exposure, or trips to the dentist.

How to do a castor oil pack with kids

  1. Use a pack to avoid stains. Castor oil will stain clothing. Children age 2+ get the most benefit out of a 45 minute treatment. Apply the oil, cover with a pack, and allow them to rest. Better yet, send them to bed with it on!

  2. For kids under 2 it’s not necessary to use a pack. Simply rub a small amount of oil until it soaks into their skin, then cover with a onesie that you don’t mind staining. There will be minor seepage.

  3. Don’t shock their system. Once every other day is often enough to do a pack with kiddos. On the off days, try an epsom salt bath, instead.

  4. Amp up the effect. Hard to get them to hold still? Add a warm rice bag over the top. This encourages relaxation. They can listen to a story or, if they haven’t already maxed out their electronics time for the day, watch a show.

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  1. […] want to start by telling you my top alternative to Miralax for toddlers. A castor oil pack is typically the first treatment I […]

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