Castor Oil Packs for Liver & Hormone Health
Castor oil packs are a traditional remedy with many potential benefits in the liver health and hormone realm. Keep reading to learn how to make castor oil packs + links to high quality products.
Disclaimer: the information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not designed to replace individualized recommendations from a practitioner. Always check with your doctor before adding supplements or making changes to your treatment plan. Additionally, please note that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
In my first job as an RD I had the pleasure of working alongside Naturopathic Doctors + Acupuncturists. This ended up being a huge blessing because it helped shape the trajectory of my career from conventional dietetics to a functional medicine approach! In that time I was exposed to many therapeutic modalities that I considered (at the time) to be a little unusual and one of them was castor oil packs. After seeing the way it benefited their patients I played around with them on myself and now incorporate into my own routine as well as my work with my clients today.
Why use Castor Oil Packs?
The main benefits of castor oil packs are due to their ability to stimulate the lymphatic system. The lymph system is a network of lymph nodes and vessels throughout the body that work to remove toxins from your tissues and transport lymphocyte cells (our immune defense). Unlike our circulatory system, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a heart and instead relies on the movement of our muscles to maintain flow - so if you’re not moving on a regular basis neither is your lymph system.
When this system gets congested, as is common with environmental toxins, poor dietary choices and a sedentary lifestyle, we start to run into issues. Congested lymph flow presents in the same way that a sluggish liver does since they are intimately related. Common symptoms include bloating and water retention, weight loss resistance, fatigue, sensitivity to chemicals/caffeine/medications, circulatory issues and hormonal imbalances.
Castor oil packs involve soaking a piece of fabric in castor oil, placing over the desired body part, covering with a heat source and allowing it to soak in for ~60 minutes. The most common placement is over the liver (upper right side of the abdomen) but you can use it over the entire abdomen, the lower abdomen for pelvic issues or over a sore muscle to improve recovery.
It is important to prioritize quality of not only the castor oil itself but also the piece of fabric since you are allowing these substances to soak into your body. I’ve linked the ones I use below!
**NOTE: avoid using castor oil packs if pregnant, breastfeeding or on your period.
Castor Oil Pack Benefits:
There aren’t many studies on the effects of castor oil packs, though I will link to the available literature where I can. However the anecdotal evidence is definitely worth mentioning.
May improve circulation
Increase lymphatic flow and immune function
May aid liver in bile movement and prevent stagnation (very important for removing toxins from the body)
Decrease inflammation and pain
May help decrease pelvic congestion and pain
May lessen hormone imbalance symptoms and PMS pain
May help improve ovarian cysts or endometrial lesions
How to Make a Castor Oil Pack:
Cut a piece of fabric (ideally non-dyed/un-bleached cotton or flannel like this) and fold into thirds. The size that has worked well for me is roughly 6x10” square when folded up.
Saturate the fabric in castor oil (ideally clean, hexane-free like this) until fully saturated but not dripping.
Place the soaked fabric over your liver (upper right side of abdomen) or other desired location and top with another piece of fabric, an old towel, a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap to prevent the oil from getting anywhere it shouldn’t.
Sit back and relax for 30-60 mins! I love to use this time to meditate or read.
Store the soaked fabric in a glass container (I use a big mason jar) and you can re-use ~30x before replacing but you may need to add additional oil if it dries out.
Castor Oil Pack Equipment:
Since the contents of the pack are designed to soak into the skin you want to make sure you are using high quality oil and clean fabric. Here are the exact products I use + found conveniently on amazon:
Do you use castor oil packs? If you try one let me know what you think! They are most effective when used for 3-4 consecutive days for a month or so.
Thanks for reading!