Castor oil packs have been used for thousands of years, often as a cure for constipation and there is research support for this in scientific literature too. The ricinoleic acid in castor oil has the ability to irritate the intestines and cause a bowel movement.
But traditional cultures have known that it had deeper healing properties than that. That is why the early Romans called the castor plant the Palm of Christ. The ancient Egyptians, used it to treat eye irritations and as a powerful natural skin care remedy. In India, castor oil has been known for its skin-healing, digestive-soothing, antibacterial properties and is commonly used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine practices.
Till just a generation or two back, across the world, summer holidays meant having your nose pinched by your mom or grand mom and being force fed a teaspoon of castor oil. This ritual would be repeated at the next school vacation too, in six months’ time. It would keep the intestines clean, kill dangerous species of bacteria and yeast.
What is Castor Oil?
Castor oil is a nonvolatile fatty oil that comes from the seeds of the castor bean (Ricinus communis) plant which belongs to the flowering spurge family (Euphorbiaceae). Castor oil, also called ricinus oil, is very thick with a color that ranges from clear to amber or somewhat green. It has a mild scent and taste.
Castor is said to be one of the oldest cultivated crops. Many of castor oil’s benefits come down to its chemical composition. It’s classified as a type of triglyceride fatty acid, and almost 90 percent of its fatty acid content is a specific and rare compound called ricinoleic acid. Not many other substances contain ricinoleic acid in such a dense and concentrated form and thus castor oil is considered one of the most unique elements. It is produced by cold-pressing the castor been seeds to extract their natural oil content.
Castor Oil Packs for Relieving Menstrual Cramps
One of the most effective use of castor oil is in external packs. The American healer Edgar Cayce was a huge fan of castor oil packs for healing. There are several online videos on how to make a castor oil pack.
The basic idea is to soak a piece of cloth, usually flannel, in the castor oil and then apply it on an area that you want to literally “move” or “cleanse” internally. You then place a thin plastic sheet or another towel on the one soaked in castor oil and finally, put a hot water bottle or a heating pad on it.
Castor Oil Packs work by stimulating the lymphatic system, the drainage system of our body. Lymph is everywhere in our body, and the lymphatic network drains waste and improves our circulation. The most effective use of a castor oil pack in my experience is to help with menstrual cramps. When the pack is used over the abdomen, the oil is absorbed into the gut-associated lymphatic tissue, through the skin. It then circulates, relieving menstrual cramps that are often caused by congested lymph vessels.
Health Benefits of Castor Oil
- Treats dry skin, rashes, wounds and skin infections
- Soothes a sprain, injury, or sore joints. Lowers symptoms of arthritis
- Relieves constipation and improved digestion
- Promotes hair growth
- Boosts circulation
- Improved immune functions
Word of caution
Castor oil seeds contain a potent poison, so whenever you want to use it internally, make sure you get it from a very reliable source. However, for external use, castor oil is safe to use and the next time you feel like you need some help with menstrual cramps or even with constipation, try a castor oil pack. It’s a remedy going back thousands of years that we now understand scientifically too.