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The "Magical" Secrets of Castor Oil

I’ve been experimenting a lot with castor oil lately as a natural beauty remedy. I already use it as a gentle daily detox on my liver, but I’m enjoying the results from using castor oil packs on my skin.

Castor oil is an age old beauty treatment with natural antibacterial and antifungal properties and is high in Vitamin E, minerals, proteins, and Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids. Its unusually high ricinoleic acid ratio makes it beneficial to skin and hair.

In fact, castor oil has traditionally been used topically for acne and other skin conditions, as well as hair loss, rashes and more. 

So What is Castor Oil?

Castor Oil is extracted from castor seeds (Ricinus Communis). It is a very pale yellow liquid that has a thick, sticky feel. Castor oil is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant oil which has been used for centuries for its therapeutic and medicinal benefits. It is believed that most of castor oil's healing abilities are derived from its high concentration of unsaturated fatty acids especially ricinoleic acid. Although it has a strong and rather unpleasant taste, castor oil is used in cosmetics, soaps, textiles, medicines, massage oils and many other everyday products. 

What are the Benefits of Castor Oil?

Castor oil has been shown to increase circulation and promote elimination and healing to tissues and organs underneath the skin. It is particularly effective in being absorbed into lymph circulation which can improve digestion, immune function, and reduce swelling in injured joints and extremities. It has also been specifically used in cases of menstrual irregularities, uterine fibroid cysts, and ovarian cysts.

Therapeutic Uses

Beneficial for:


Topical Detoxification


Constipation, Gas, Bloating, Indigestion

Over Liver/Abdomen



Fibroids, Cysts

Pelvic Area

Menstrual Cramps

Pelvic Area

Back and Neck Pain/Tension

Back and Neck

Skin Benefits
(Adhesions, Scars, Sunburn, Abrasions, Acne, Dry skin, Boils, Warts, Stretch Marks, Liver/Age Spots and Wrinkle Treatment)

Locally- Simply apply directly 2 or 3 times per day.

Germ-Killing, Disinfectant and Anti-Bacterial Properties
(Athletes Foot, Other Fungal Infections, Skin Ulcers, Stye, Chronic Itching and Inflamed Skin)

Locally- Simply apply directly 2 or 3 times per day.

Large or Small Joint Pain/Arthritis/Sports injury/Swelling

To Affected Area

Baby Colic and Constipation

Baby Belly

Muscle Pain, Stiffness and Aches

To Affected Area

Hair Care
(Helps to keep dandruff at bay, can improve the texture of coarse and dry hair and contains compounds that stimulate hair growth)

Locally- For a more direct impact, massage the oil into the scalp, leave it on overnight and wash hair the next morning. 


  • 3-5 treatments per week for at least 30 minutes
  • Options for use: Castor Oil Pack OR Direct Application (see below)

Castor Oil Pack

  • Make a small pad by folding a small piece of unbleached cotton flannelette into 3 or 4 layers.
  • Dip the cotton pad into castor oil (can let material soak in bowl several minutes). You can also apply 2-4 tbsp of castor oil along the pad length and then fold in half (dab together) to distribute product evenly throughout pad.
  • Place the pad onto the affected joint, muscle or area. 
  • Cover the pad with plastic wrap. Grocery bag or plastic bag is OK.
  • Place a hot water bottle or heating pad on LOW over the plastic wrapped cotton pad. The plastic wrap will prevent the heat source from getting oily. DO NOT MICROWAVE CASTOR OIL PACK.
  • Leave the cotton pad on for at least 30 minutes (On breasts 30 min., abdomen 60 min.).

This castor oil pack can be reused. Place in a plastic ziplock bag or glass container and refrigerate it for re-use. Add more oil as it dries out. A pack must never be washed – discard old packs when they begin to change colour. Make new pack after 5 applications. Don’t share packs.

For maximum effectiveness, it is necessary to apply the pack as often as possible, preferably daily for at least 3 weeks.

Direct Application

The easiest way to use castor oil is to massage it onto the body on the problem spot. For superficial problems, direct topical application without the use of a heating pad is typically sufficient.
  • Alternatively, put castor oil directly on the skin or area of concern. Cover it and leave it on overnight (take heat away after allotted time). Cover with old clothing/towels as the oil stains clothing and sheets (i.e. “Castor Oil T-Shirt” )
  • Dip a cotton ball into castor oil and apply it onto the affected skin in the morning and at night.
  • Alternatively, for larger skin areas, soak an appropriately large piece of unbleached cotton cloth in castor oil and wrap the affected area overnight.
  • If the area is very small, soak a Band-Aid in castor oil and cover the infected skin overnight.
  • To clean off any oil residue, wash off with soap and water.

Cayne E. 1993 The Oil that Heals, a physician’s successes with castor oil treatments. A.R.E. Press
Grady H. 1998 Immunomodulation through castor oil packs. Journal of Naturopathic Medicine, 7(1):84-89 Klotter J. 2003 Shorts: Castor Oil/ Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients. February/March 2003

Before starting any therapy, always consult a healthcare professional. Please note that precaution is needed when used during menstruation. Castor oil improves circulation, thus it may increase menstrual blood flow. Also note that precautions must be taken when consumed internally. You should always follow the directions on the package and consult your doctor or naturopathic professional before consuming it. Internal ingestion of castor oil may result in diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or cramping. 



Dr. Sylvia Santos is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. She is a passionate about health promotion and encourages her patients and readers to embrace their full health potential. You can follow Dr. Santos on Instagram and Facebook or contact her at

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