Traditional Japanese Healing Arts Articles

The Healing Powers of Castor Oil

Castor oil (Ricinus Communis) has been around for a long time. The Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, describes the topical use of castor oil by the early Egyptians, as far back as 1550 B.C. Likewise, the oil of the castor bean has been used in India and China for thousands of years. In medieval Europe, the plant was given the name Palma Christa, since the leaves resemble the human hand.

Taken internally, castor oil is a reliable laxative, especially effective as a treatment for food poisoning and intestinal parasites. But actually, it's the external application of castor oil that has the most remarkable healing properties. Present day health care practitioners regularly prescribe the external application of castor oil packs in order to:

• improve elimination
• stimulate the liver and gallbladder
• dissolve adhesions
• dissolve stones or lesions
• relieve pain
• relax the nerves
• remove toxins
• increase circulation of blood and lymph
• improve digestion
• reduce inflammation and swelling
• stimulate the endocrine system

Castor oil is used externally in three ways. First, castor oil may be applied directly to the skin for dryness, rashes, hives, fungus, infections, boils, furuncles, liver spots (age spots), warts, benign skin cancers, etc. Also for infection or fungus in the finger or toe nails. Apply castor oil directly and gently rub into the area for a minute or two. Repeat this application 2 or 3 times a day for a few weeks or up to two months in the case of stubborn warts.

Second, the application of castor oil packs can bring significant relief for any kind of trauma, sprain or degenerative joint disorder. In the case of a painful joint, apply a pack and secure it with an ace bandage. Keep the pack on the body continuously and reapply castor oil every 24 hours. For back pain, lay on a castor oil pack for 90 minutes every day for 5 days. (See instructions below.) In severe cases, you may have to repeat this course 3 times over a period of 3 weeks.

Third, castor oil packs are used for cleansing and regulating the internal organs. For disorders relating to the digestion, intestines, liver, lungs or reproductive organs a series of castor oil packs on the abdomen for 90 minutes a day can have remarkable effects.

How the castor oil pack works is not fully understood. Some practitioners attribute the healing properties to the relaxation of the muscles and the improved circulation of blood and lymph produced in the local area. In addition, it is known that certain fatty acids in the oil help to nourish the tissues and stimulate the healing a cellular level. In addition, it is my opinion that castor oil works on the level of vibrational medicine. My experience is that cold pressed castor oil resonates with living tissue on a subtle level, helping to restore the circulation of Qi or Life energy within the tissues. When the flow of Qi and blood are improved, the healing process is dramatically accelerated.

Directions for applying a castor oil pack

A castor oil pack is made from cotton flannel or disposable cotton padding which is used to absorb and hold the castor oil during application. The flannel is saturated with cold-pressed castor oil and applied directly to the area being treated. A common area to apply the castor oil pack is across the abdomen, covering the entire area from the sternum to the pubic bone. A second common area is across the low back from the sacrum to the waist. Also, it's common to use a small castor oil wrap over a sprained finger, wrist, ankle or other joints.

To make a castor oil pack, you will need the following supplies:

• Disposable under-pads or bed liners, available at most drug store. These should have a plastic liner on one side and a layer of cotton flannel on the other
• Cold pressed castor oil
• One or two old bath towels
• Electric heating pad - I recommend the kind that will automatically shut off after one hour
• Paper towels
• Plastic bag

1. Place the heating pad on the bed and turn it on to a low setting.

2. Place a full size disposable bed liner, with plastic side down, on top of the heating pad for protection.

3. Cut another section of bed liner approximately 10" X 14", if doing an abdominal pack, or 8" X 14" for the low back, or a smaller section as needed for other parts of the body. Apply the castor in the middle of the flannel side, with the plastic side against the heating pad. Apply enough castor oil to soak the flannel but not so much that it will run over the edges. Place this cut section, plastic side down, on top of the larger liner but aligned with the heating pad underneath.

4. Apply castor oil to the abdomen or low back... enough to cover the area but not dripping. Wipe your hands with paper towels that are close by.

5. When you are ready to begin, lie down on the bed and flip the castor oil pack and heating pad on to your abdominal area and relax. Or, for the low back, lie down on the pack and adjust your position so that the pack covers the area from the sacrum to the waist. The heat should be comfortable but not too hot. It's best to use the low setting to avoid a burn in case you fall asleep during the treatment.

General application time is between 1-2 hours.

After your session, wipe the area clean with paper towels. It's ok to leave a thin film of oil on your body. Or, you may take a shower.

Carefully fold the castor oil pack and liner and store in a plastic bag between uses. Be sure to keep the pack out of the sun and in a cool dark place. Castor oil packs made from disposable liners may be used 8 to 10 times.

After 3 days of using the castor oil pack take about 1 teaspoon of olive oil (NOT castor oil) by mouth. This is taken in the evening before bed.

To order castor oil and other supplies, go to, or call 1-800-269-2502.

Precaution: Always consult with your health care provider prior to using a castor oil pack. DO NOT use a castor oil pack on the abdominal area or low back during pregnancy or during menstrual flow.