Do you deal with chronic bloating, constipation, and poor digestion? Are period cramps and miserable PMS symptoms just “part of your life” these days?

It can be overwhelming and downright frustrating to deal with these things without finding relief. If you feel like you’ve tried EVERYTHING but nothing seems to help…

Castor oil packs are here to save the day!

These amazing oil packs have been used since ancient Egyptian times to detoxify the body and promote healing. These days, naturopaths and holistic practitioners rely on this traditional therapy to help patients with inflammation, digestion, circulation, and more.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know including:

  • The history of castor oil
  • Why it’s so amazing for bloating (and just about everything else)
  • The science behind how it works 

Let’s get started!

Who should use castor oil packs?

There are tons of symptoms that castor oil packs can help with. They’re a holy grail product for helping the body regulate and heal! Here are some of the top conditions it can treat:

  • Bloating and constipation
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and PCOS
  • Menstrual cramps and irregular cycles
  • Congestion and respiratory infections
  • Liver detoxification
  • Arthritis, muscle, and joint pain
  • Skin issues like acne, rashes, and infections

The anti-inflammatory and circulation-boosting effects make castor oil useful for treating SO many ailments. Pretty much any time someone comes into my office, I find myself saying… “Have you heard of castor oil packs?”

What are castor oil packs?

To use a castor pack, you apply castor oil to the targeted area (generally the abdomen and over the liver/reproductive organs) and then wrap it in organic cotton flannel.

I LOVE the Queen of Thrones castor packs because they are mess-free and super convenient. They have a water-resistant side to shield your clothing, sheets, and furniture from the sticky, stainy castor oil. You can also create a DIY version using plastic wrap over the cotton, but I personally find these ones much easier!  Plus if something isn’t easy and convenient for me, I’m less likely to do it.

Once you wrap yourself up, you’ll wear it for at least an hour. However, wearing it overnight is most effective because the liver does the majority of it’s detoxing while you’re in REM sleep (typically between 1 am – 3 am). 

A brief history on castor oil

While castor oil packs may seem like a trendy new therapy, they’ve actually been around for thousands of years! Castor oil packs are one of the oldest healing rituals in the world and their usage can be traced back to nearly every ancient civilization. 

The first recorded use of castor seeds and oil comes from ancient Egypt, however, it’s also been documented in traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Greek medicine practices. It’s known for its healing and detoxifying properties.

The herb was later brought to the Americas and popularized in the early 1900s by the father of naturopathy, Edgar Cayce. He recommended castor oil packs to his patients to enhance circulation, digestion, and immunity.

Today, many natural health practitioners integrate castor oil packs into treatment plans to reduce inflammation, relieve constipation, and speed healing. The oil continues to be a go-to natural remedy for a variety of conditions, and guess what? It can help you, too! 

The science of castor oil

You might be a little bit sceptical and wondering if it’s all too good to be true. Let’s take a look at what exactly is happening when you use this ancient remedy:

  • Reduces Inflammation – Castor oil contains high levels of ricinoleic acid, which is incredible at reducing inflammation in the body. It can help reduce pain, swelling, and fluid accumulation.
  • Boosts circulation – When absorbed through the skin, castor oil improves blood flow to the area it is applied. Enhanced circulation means more oxygen and nutrients are being delivered to cells, which helps them heal and repair. While we generally apply castor oil to the abdomen and over the liver for systemic relief, you can also put it on achy joints, injuries, or areas of pain.
  • Lymphatic drainage – Castor oil packs stimulate the flow of lymph, a fluid containing waste and toxins. This helps remove waste products from tissues and helps the body detox more efficiently.
  • Relaxation – The soothing warmth and pressure of castor packs on the body stimulates the parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) nervous system. This helps you feel more relaxed and eases spasms, cramping, and constipation.
  • Liver support – Castor oil also boosts bile flow in the liver. This results in better digestion as well as waste and hormone elimination. A backed-up liver can show up symptomatically as PMS, hormone imbalances, constipation, itchy skin, acne, puffiness, bloating, food and chemical sensitivities, allergies and more.

With all these different processes at work, you can start to see how powerful castor oil can be in benefiting your entire body!

Where do I wear it?

Castor oil packs are incredibly versatile and can be applied to different areas of your body. For the most comprehensive and systemic effects, wear them over the liver and abdominal area. 

If you’re looking to treat localized issues such as a thyroid cyst, breast lump, or ovarian cysts, you can alternate between wearing the pack over your liver and the specific area of concern. You can also double up and wear packs on both areas for enhanced support!

While castor oil packs are pretty magical and can be applied to nearly any part of your body, they’re not recommended for pregnant women. This isn’t because it’s been deemed unsafe necessarily but because it’s unethical to perform studies on pregnant women with the concern of it potentially affecting the baby. They also are to be used with caution in those with IUD’s because the increase of blow flow and circulation can increase the likelihood of the IUD dislodging and causing breakthrough bleeding. There’s mixed reports on this one but I recommend to proceed with caution!

When should I wear it?

For best results, incorporate it into your nightly routine and wear it overnight. The prime time for your liver’s activity is between 1-3 am, and utilizing the ricinoleic acid during this period enhances its detox power. 

Castor oil packs are specially designed to naturally retain your body heat, which means you’ll be warm and cozy as you slip into bed for a restful night’s sleep. Additionally, wearing your pack at night can contribute to improved sleep quality and the regulation of your circadian rhythm.

While wearing your castor oil pack overnight is ideal, you can still experience benefits by wearing it for a minimum of one hour. I encourage you to incorporate it into your routine as frequently as possible, as the longer and more consistently you wear it, the greater the benefits. 

How to choose the best oil

Now that you’re in the know about castor oil, you might see it at retail or grocery stores. But it’s important to make sure you’re buying the good stuff! If you don’t get grade-A, high-quality oil, you could end up doing more harm than good. 

Make sure you use a castor oil that is:

  • Organic and cold-pressed.
    • This means it’s minimally processed and will retain the most of its healing powers.
  • In a dark glass bottle. 
    • This protects it from oxidizing and going bad from light exposure, plus it means no plastic leaching into the oil.

Remember, we’re trying to detox here, not add back in endocrine-disrupting chemicals from plastic! Get my fave here.

Where to buy them

While it’s possible to DIY them at home with organic cotton flannel and saran wrap… let’s be honest. No one’s got time for that! 

My personal favorite place to order castor oil packs (for myself and my patients) is from Queen of Thrones! Their packs are mess-free, comfortable and easy to use. Plus, their castor oil is top-notch! 

Now that you know the in’s and out’s of what castor oil is and how to use it, give it a try and watch that bloat float away! Here’s a step-by-step on how to apply it correctly.

How to do it

Believe it or not, this is the easiest part. All you have to do is rub the castor oil on the designated area of your body and wrap the pack around it. Follow these easy steps below to get rid of bloating:

  1. Rub 2-3 tablespoons of castor oil all over your abdominal area. I call it the “Goldilocks” amount where it’s not so much it’s dripping down your belly but enough to have a thick layer. I use one finger to spread it around or wear gloves as it is a particular sticky oil. You may see people tell you to put it on the pack but I find that it saturates the pack way quicker which means you have to wash/replace it faster AND you’re basically wasting it by putting it on the pack instead of directly on your skin for it to absorb. 
  2. Once you’re nice and lathered, place the castor oil pack over your stomach and right lower ribcage to cover the liver with the soft, fuzzy side on your skin.  Tie it around you comfortably and put on some shorts and a shirt that are dark or that you don’t mind getting stained. The castor packs make it pretty mess-free but this provides another layer of protection so it doesn’t get on your sheets. 
  3. Wear the castor oil pack overnight and remove it in the morning. Voila! Less bloat, deep sleep and cramp-free periods!

As I mentioned before, you can use castor oil on other parts of your body, too. Simply rub the oil on your thyroid, achy joints, reproductive organs, breasts, or wherever else you might need a little love, place the flannel side of the pack over it, and you’re good to go!