First of all most of you are thinking yew…doesn’t it smell awful? Well, you are probably confusing it with cod liver oil which has a fishy smell/odor. Castor oil has a pretty neutral odor. It is a thick, clear, light amber colored oil made from the castor bean. Castor beans are poisonous if ingested. But surprisingly, expeller pressed/ cold pressed castor oil is NOT poisonous. Castor oil has been used for centuries as a home remedy for constipation and other illnesses. It also has properties that are very useful for the relief of pain. It is analgesic; which means it has pain relieving qualities. It is anti-inflammatory: which means it decreases inflammation. Lastly it is anti-pruritic; which means it decreases itching from a variety of causes. It is also a detoxifier.
My advice to my clients is “don’t drink it, apply it!” Castor oil can be applied like any other over the counter (OTC) analgesic (pain relieving) cream. It can be used as massage oil. It can also be used as a pack. I use it in all three ways. Castor oil packs make it not so messy to use. Once made and stored in sealable baggies in the freezer, they are ready for use at any time; and they last for months so they are economical as well. Castor oil is relatively inexpensive. You can purchase an 8 oz bottle for under $8 and a 16 oz bottle for under $15. It takes approximately 3-4 ounces of castor oil to make one pack the size of a washcloth or small hand towel.
My first experience with castor oil and pain was back in 1999 when I was attending the Academy of the Healing Arts here in Yakima WA. We were taught about the properties of castor oil, its history and use as a pain relieving measure. We were given the instructions on how to make the castor oil packs, instructed on how to use these packs and we were given an assessment sheet that we needed to document before and after findings.
So I dutifully went home and made my two castor oil packs, placed them in sealable baggies and placed them in the freezer and there is where they stayed for two months. One night, I came home from work, my hands were aching and my wrists were sore. By bedtime, they were throbbing from my fingertips to my shoulders. I tried gentle range of motion exercises and took some over the counter pain relievers. The pain just continued and I did not know how I was going to sleep.
Then it came to me – “the castor oil packs and my homework assignment” – so I dug out the castor oil packs, wrapped one around each wrist, covered each with another hand towel to protect my bedding and pj’s from the oil. And there I was in bed thinking this was pretty silly to be doing, but homework was homework so here I was, waiting to see what would happen, if anything.
Then, the improbable happened. Twenty minutes after applying the castor oil wrap, I realized that my arms were not throbbing and the pain had receded to almost zero. “Amazing!,” I thought as I rolled over and went to sleep without another thought.
In the morning, I awoke and found that the pain was gone. I took the wraps off and returned them to their baggies and replaced them in the freezer. Since then I have been using them for a variety of different pains and teaching others about the wonders of castor oil.
I want to share one other story that proved to me that this was in fact a wonderful remedy that was a hidden treasure. I went out to see a new client. She only spoke Spanish. I had with me my sidekick, apprentice Pain Nurse Triny, who also was my interpreter. After 15 minutes of trying to get an evaluation and assessment done, I suddenly stopped and asked the interpreter to ask the client why she was so restless and why she kept getting up and pacing.
At that point the client picked up her gown and showed us the large areas of skin irritation from psoriasis. They were thick, beefy red and bleeding in some areas. They covered her thighs, abdomen, lower back, neck, and into her hair and also on her arms. She said they itched so bad they hurt. She had not had a good night’s sleep in months and neither had her poor family. She was beside herself. She could not sit or lay down for long and she spent most of the day and night just pacing and scratching. She had a shoe box full of empty or partially used tubes of prescribed medications. She said nothing worked and if it did there was not enough in one tube to treat all the lesions and the cream was costly. So she stayed home and suffered in silence.
I told her I had something to help her if she was willing to try it. She said she would try anything. So I went out to the car and returned with a 16 oz bottle of castor oil. I told her how to use it. Just apply it like a lotion to any area that itched or was painful. We arranged for another appointment one week later.
When we arrived at her next appointment she met us at the door grinning from ear to ear and asked if we had any more of “that oil” as she held up her almost empty bottle of castor oil. She said that after applying the oil the itching subsided in about 15 minutes and she would apply it again when it started to bother her again. This was the first time she had any significant relief, and she slept a full night for the first time and her family was very appreciative as well because now they too could sleep through the night without waking up to her pacing and moaning.
Three months later, her psoriatic lesions had completely healed leaving only pink new skin. She was a new woman.
I have used the castor oil packs for headaches, toothaches, neck pain, knee pain, hand and wrist pain. I have applied it to bug bites with great success. And I have used it as a massage oil on others and myself.
[toggle title=”View Instructions for Castor Oil Packs“]
- Castor oil (expeller pressed or cold pressed) (4 oz bottle)
- Old wash cloth/ small hand towel or flannel (needs to be soft and absorbent)
- Sealable plastic baggie
Preparation of Packs:
- Drizzle castor oil over the cloth and rub it in and repeat until evenly distributed and worked into the cloth. Cloth should be saturated but not dripping.
- Fold cloth and place in plastic bag and close seal. Label and date the baggie.
- Place in the freezer until ready to use (packs will keep for months in the freezer but will turn rancid if left at room temperature)
- Remove from freezer
- Remove from baggie (cloth will be stiff but pliable)
- Wrap castor oil cloth around any painful area
- Cover the oiled cloth with another hand towel or a plastic wrap to prevent oil getting on clothes or furniture.
- Leave on the area at least 1 hour and repeat in 3 hours if pain is still present
- When done refold the cloth and replace in baggie and return to freezer for the next time you need it. Replenish castor oil to cloth after 1 week of continuous use or whenever they feel dry to the touch.
- DO NOT HEAT THE CASTOR OIL PACK IN THE MICROWAVE. It could cause a fire.
- DO NOT PLACE A HEATING PAD OVER THE PACK. It may cause a serious burn to the skin.
- You can heat a rice bag or a damp towel in the microwave for NO MORE THAN 2 minutes; place this over the castor oil wrap.
Apply for 1 hour every 3 hours or until pain subsides
Repeat every day for 3 days then stop for 3 days and then repeat the cycle again.
Alternate Application: Use as massage oil. Use about a dime sized amount at a time as the oil is very thick. Massage into any painful or achy area on the body. Massage in well until it is absorbed into skin so that you can put on your clothes without fear of getting oily residue on your clothes. You can repeat this as often as needed. Recommend 3 times per day.
Castor oil has analgesic properties as well as anti-inflammatory properties.
It is also useful in pruritus (itching) from a variety of causes including renal failure, dialysis and liver failure and psoriasis. Also, good for insect bites (mix with baking soda to make a paste).
Works best on localized pain such as bursitis, arthritis, carpal tunnel, areas of local inflammation.
If you do decide to use the castor oil packs, share your results by inserting comments to this blog. I look forward to hearing about your successes using castor oil.