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Healing Properties of Topical Castor Oil

I've heard some talk recently about the topical use of castor oil. What exactly is it good for and how do I apply it? Dr. Joanne offers information about topical application of castor oil and its several wonderful uses. Castor oil helps decrease inflammation, stimulates the lymphatic channels, breaks up congestion, reduces swelling and breaks up scar tissue.

Actions and uses of topical castor oil:

  • Aids liver cleansing & detoxification – “decongests” the blood and lymphatic fluid being filtered by the liver so that your liver can clear waste and process toxins more quickly and easily. Doing castor oil applications during a cleanse can greatly enhance your cleanse and help reduce “detox” symptoms such as headache, fatigue and other flu-like symptoms.
  • PMS Relief – hormones are processed by the liver so supporting better liver function and clearance of excess hormones can help your body achieve better hormone balance.
  • Pelvic congestion and painful menses
  • Joint pain and inflammation
  • Gallbladder inflammation
  • Gastrointestinal conditions including spasm and pain.
  • Constipation – helps improve elimination by gently stimulating peristalsis and decreasing inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Aches and pains including arthritis and sprains & strains
  • Reduction of scars and adhesions
  • Wound healing

How to Apply Castor Oil:

Castor oil can be applied directly to the skin of the affected area via a “Castor oil Pack” (see directions below) or by simply rubbing it on. I often tell clients to do “Castor oil Rubs”. Simply rub the castor oil on the affected area, cover with a towel or cloth (castor oil is messy) and then apply a heating pad or hot water bottle. Applying heat helps drive the castor oil through the skin. For liver detoxification support, apply the castor oil to the area of the liver (upper right abdomen, just underneath and below the cage).

For acute injury (strains and sprains) – apply 3-4x/day. Do not apply heat to acute injuries if the area is red, visibility inflamed and warm (ice is better for this stage)

For more chronic cases – apply 1-4x/week for 30-45 minutes.


Do not use heat with uterine growths, bleeding, pregnancy, ulcers, or while menstruating.  Do not fall asleep while using the electric heating pad.


How to do a castor oil pack:


            Flannel cloth (cotton or wool; 20-40 inches by 24-48 inches)

            Plastic wrap (Clear kitchen wrap or plastic bag without ink)

            Glass dish (Square 9 x 9 inch Pyrex or similar container)

            Bath towel

            Hot water bottle or heating pad

            Castor oil


  1. Choose a container in which to store and heat your Castor oil pack.
  2. Pour oil onto flannel until it is well moistened.
  3. Heat flannel/oil in glass dish in oven or microwave to a comfortable temperature. You can also heat the castor oil first in a bowl of hot water and then moisten the flannel.
  4. Lie down placing flannel directly on skin over the treatment area.
  5. Place plastic wrap (or plastic bag) that is 1-2 inches larger than flannel on all sides over flannel to prevent staining of clothes or bedding.
  6. Place the bath towel on top of the plastic.
  7. Apply hot water bottle or heating pad (on medium setting) over the treatment area.
  8. Rest.  You may sleep, use visualization, or meditate at this time. Leave on for 25-45 minutes.
  9. You may reuse the flannel pack. Place in a glass container and store in the refrigerator.  This flannel and oil may be used for several weeks.
  10. For cleaning, wash skin in a solution of 3 tablespoons baking soda/quart of water or with an olive oil based soap.

Dr. Joanne Aponte is a Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor & Holistic Wellness Expert. She is available in the store every Tuesday & Thursday from 12-7 to help answer your questions regarding natural wellness.

Reference: Buchman, Dian Dincan, The Complete Book of Water Healing, (Chicago, IL:Contemporary Books), 2002.


moe commented 2015-02-02 23:43:07
Does Jamiacain Black castor oil promote hair growth?

Dr. Joanne commented 2015-02-03 18:27:54
Hello. I am not familiar with Jamiacain black castor oil and so I cannot comment on its ability to promote hair growth. Also, I have not learned of any benefit of regular castor oil for the hair, other than it can help moisturize and reduce frizz!

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