The liver is a remarkable organ that plays a crucial role in our overall health and well-being. It performs a wide range of functions, including detoxification, synthesis of bile from cholesterol, hormone regulation, and blood cleansing. Ideally, our liver will perform optimally on its own. Since today’s lifestyle is filled with stress, processed foods, and exposure to environmental toxins, our livers can become overwhelmed and need support in order to function optimally. One effective way to support liver health is through the use of castor oil packs.
This article describes the benefits of castor oil packs for kids and adults, such as enhancing detoxification, reducing inflammation, and improving liver function. It also provides step by step instructions on making and using a castor oil pack.
Why Are Castor Oil Packs Beneficial?
Castor oil contains a unique compound called ricinoleic acid, which exhibits anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties (1). When applied topically, ricinoleic acid is believed to penetrate the skin and stimulate lymphatic circulation, helping to remove toxins and waste products from the liver.
Improved Liver Function
In addition to promoting detoxification, castor oil packs support liver function by reducing inflammation and congestion in the liver and improving blood flow to the liver (1). The increased flow of nutrients and oxygen to the liver allow it to function optimally.
Castor oil packs can be useful for chronic constipation. This is something I see clinically in my practice, and it has also been demonstrated in a small pilot study (2). This is likely due to improved liver health from castor oil use, which results in improved bile management. Bile is created in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. It is important for fat digestion, the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, intestinal health and motility, and more (3).
Castor Oil Pack Tutorial
Making a castor oil pack is simple. Here are the materials you’ll need:
Castor oil: Choose a high-quality, organic, & cold-pressed castor oil for best results.
Cloth or flannel: Use a soft clean cloth or flannel that is large enough to cover the liver area.
Plastic wrap or towel: Use either to cover the castor oil-soaked cloth and prevent oil stains.
Heating pad or hot water bottle (optional): Apply gentle heat to enhance the effectiveness of the pack.
Instructions For Castor Oil Packs
- Pour approximately 1 tablespoon of castor oil onto your cloth, making sure it is well saturated but not dripping.
- Place the cloth with the castor oil directly on your skin over your liver area, which is located on the right side of your abdomen just below the rib cage.
- Cover the cloth with plastic wrap or towel to hold it in place and to prevent oil stains on clothing or bedding.
- If desired, apply a heating pad or hot water bottle over the pack to provide gentle heat. This step is optional; if you have a sensitive constitution or suspect you have a lot of toxins to eliminate, you may want to skip the heat at first to see how your respond.
- Relax and allow the castor oil pack to remain in place for at least 15 minutes, or up to an hour. I usually have my patients start with a smaller amount of time and gradually increase if desired.
- Afterward, remove the pack and gently cleanse the skin with warm water and mild soap to remove any residual oil. The pack can be stored in a resealable bag in the refrigerator and reused daily until it starts to change color. Every couple of days, a small amount of oil should be added to the pack to keep it fully saturated. The castor oil pack should be replaced at least every two months.
Who Should Avoid Using Castor Oil Packs?
Castor oil packs are safe and gentle for most people. Especially, if you start with a short treatment without heat applied. However, as with all natural remedies, there are some people who should avoid castor oil packs or use with caution, including:
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women: Therapies that enhance detoxification are generally discouraged in this population.
- People with liver conditions: In some cases, castor oil packs can be beneficial for liver conditions and detrimental in others. Individual medical advice is needed.
I don’t usually recommend castor oil packs for young children, mainly due to how difficult it can be to get kids to sit still with a heating pack for an extended length of time. Instead, I use castor oil for a relaxing abdominal massage. (Instructions for infant and child abdominal massage will be outlined in an upcoming article).
Incorporating castor oil packs into your family’s self-care routine can be a great practice for supporting liver health, enhancing detoxification, and promoting overall well-being. Castor oil contains a unique compound called ricinoleic acid, which is believed to be responsible for the benefits of castor oil packs, such as enhanced detoxification, reduced inflammation, and improved liver health. Pregnant and nursing mothers, as well as people with liver conditions, should avoid using castor oil packs unless otherwise advised by their doctor.
- Gupta, V. K., & Aggarwal, B. B. (2014). Therapeutic potential of castor oil and its active constituent ricinoleic acid. Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs, 23(1), 11-30.
- Kreitzer, M. J., & Gross, A. E. (2008). Castor oil packs for the treatment of chronic constipation: A pilot study. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 7(4), 327-332.
- Ahmed M. Functional, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Aspects of Bile. Clin Exp Gastroenterol. 2022 Jul 20;15:105-120. doi: 10.2147/CEG.S360563. PMID: 35898963; PMCID: PMC9309561.