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Castor Oil: 5 Benefits to Using this Ancient Remedy

Castor Oil 5 Benefits

Castor oil has been around for centuries. The Egyptians first used it about 3500 years ago to combat dry eyes. The oil is still used by some ophthalmologists today to relieve symptoms associated with dry eye disease. However, I wouldn’t recommend you pour pure castor oil on your eyes after a night of binge-watching Netflix.

Nevertheless, castor oil does have a list of other benefits that make it a must to include in your routine. Here’s a list of 5 of the best uses and benefits of castor oil to wrap into your routine.

What is Castor Oil?

Castor oil is made by pressing castor seeds from the ricinus communis plant. Castor is rich in ricinoleic acid. Ricinoleic acid makes up 90% of the oil and this has been linked to the oils numerous benefits.

Castor Oil Packs

Many experience the side effects associated with using castor when it’s ingested. That said, the oil also has a horrible taste and can cause nausea and even vomiting, which is reason enough to avoid using it internally. However, there’s no need to ingest it. Castor oil provides most of its benefits when you apply the oil topically through castor oil packs.

How To Make a Castor Oil Pack

To begin, you’ll need organic wool flannel, hexane free castor oil and a hot water bottle.

It is preferred to use a hot water bottle as opposed to an electric heating pad. Castor works best with damp heat. You can either apply the castor to the wool flannel or you can apply the oil directly on the affected area. To produce the best results, leave the pack on the treated area for 30 minutes to 2 hours maximum. On a busy day, I’ll just do about 20 minutes, and I can feel better in just that short amount of time – make it work for you!

Castor oil is messy and can stain. I wouldn’t use these packs while lying on your fanciest Egyptian cotton sheets and neither would the Egyptians! So, be sure to place something between you and your precious furniture or sheets – an old towel, sheet or curtain should do, and don’t forget to wear old clothes!

The Amazing Benefits of Castor Oil

Strengthens Your Immune System and Detoxification

The ricinoleic acid in castor targets the lymphatic system, helping your body produce or increase production of lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are the body’s natural disease fighter. They help drain your body of any toxins and proteins that have built up over time. Ridding the body of this accumulated waste in the blood can help improve your immune system.

Using castor oil packs over the liver is a time honored tradition. Many schools of traditional medicine have used castor to help support optimized liver function, to improve detoxification and to reduce inflammation in the liver. I often recommend that patients do a castor pack 1-2 times/week (or more!) to help support their liver if they’re dealing with mental health concerns, hormonal imbalance, detoxification issues or actual liver organ issues, like fatty liver. Note that this is in addition to other supports for liver health, not as a stand-alone treatment. Castor is great, but it’s not that powerful!

Improves Circulation

When your body increases production of lymphocytes and rids itself of toxins, the result is a boost in circulation. Thus, when your blood starts flowing as it should, you’ll get more oxygen to vital organs, more oxygen in cells and a reduced toxin load in your blood.

Reduces Inflammation and Pain

Castor oil packs have also been used to reduce inflammation caused by autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or as an accompaniment to other treatment. Since the oil has detoxing properties, it works at reducing the load of white blood cells that are attacking tissue, which reduces the inflammation.

I often recommend using castor packs for help with menstrual cramps. Put the castor pack and hot water bottle right over your uterus and relax for 20-30 minutes. It’s pretty darn amazing at reducing inflammation, pain and cramping!

Thickens Hair

Used as an all-natural hair elixir, castor oil is also said to be a wonder oil if you’re in the market for thicker, longer hair. According to many of its biggest supporters, the oil can help thicken hair and even spurs on hair growth. The only scientific evidence, however, is that castor can change the appearance of hair, making it noticeably glossy. Apply it sparingly and rinse out thoroughly to avoid getting greasy, stringy or matted hair.

An Alternative to Face Wash

Use castor oil as a replacement for products laden with chemicals – endocrine system disruptors and parabens disguised as face wash anyone?

You can use castor to remove makeup by applying a small amount to a cotton swab and gently wiping your face with it. It’s also an effective natural cleanser to cleanse your face of dirt and impurities. To use it as a cleanser, you’ll need to use the oil cleansing method – a method recommended if you want baby soft skin without the oily residue.


Although, castor oil is relatively safe to use, you should not use the oil if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or menstruating. I would also caution against using the oil internally as it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps, amongst other side effects. In addition, some people are allergic to castor oil. Therefore it’s best to do a patch test before using the packs.

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Victoria Albina

Victoria Albina, NP, MPH is a licensed and board certified Family Nurse Practitioner, herbalist and life coach, with 20 years experience in health and wellness. She trained at the University of California, San Francisco, and holds a Masters in Public Health from Boston University and a bachelors from Oberlin College. She comes to this work having been a patient herself, and having healed from a lifetime of IBS, GERD, SIBO, fatigue, depression and anxiety.

She is passionate about her work, and loves supporting patients in a truly holistic way - body, mind, heart and spirit. A native of Mar del Plata, Argentina, she grew up in the great state of Rhode Island, and lives in NYC with her partner. A brown dog named Frankie Bacon has her heart, and she lives for steak and a good dark chocolate.


  1. Kana Overman on September 27, 2019 at 11:58 am

    What is the oil cleansing method referred to if wanting to use as a facial cleanser?
    You mention using a pack for menustral cramps but also say do not use if pregnant, nursing or menustrating. I am confused on that issue. Please help!
    Also, is it imperative to drink lots of water as when doing other cleansi,vs? I ask because I am wanting to help an autistic granddaughter but she doesn’t drink much water at all.
    Thank you for your help!!!

    • Victoria Albina on September 29, 2019 at 12:22 pm

      Hi Kana,

      1. Oil cleansing: put a thin coat of coconut, castor or other noncomedogenic oil on your face, then warm up a towel with some warm water and gently steam it off! So easy 🙂

      2. Pregnant people should not have menstrual cramps… and yes, castor oil packs are great topically for cramps before and during menses.

      3. It’s always vital to drink lots of good filtered water. I recommend a Berkley Water Filter:

      This is the water filter I use, and I use 2 black carbon filters with 2 white fluoride filters, and I also use their shower filter from the Accessories page (because vanity and hair and new-found gargling-in-shower habit… and also because who wants to shower in a cloud of chlorine gas?!)

      Note that while the Berkey is available on Amazon and other big-box online retailers, I recommend ONLY buying from an authorized Berkey-dealer, such as the one I’ve linked to here. I want to make sure you’ve getting the real-deal filters.

      I also like supporting a family-owned independent business (for the same price as Amazon, so why not?) and the customer service at Big Berkey is fantastic (I have no financial interest in this company, I just like supporting small business)

      Thanks for your comments!

  2. AURELIA OANA on October 6, 2019 at 10:09 am

    I’ve read on a site “global healing center”, a certain dr. there praises the castor oil packs for cleansing the lungs of toxins, what do you think? have you ever used the method in such circumstances? Thank you!

    • Victoria Albina on October 6, 2019 at 2:02 pm

      Hi Aurelia, I’m not familiar with that practice and I’m not sure how one would use castor oil for the lungs other than a topical pack, as castor shouldn’t be taken internally… the lungs are pretty adept at cleaning themselves out by initiating a coughing reflex. Not sure what castor would do there, but I suppose a topical pack is unlikely to be harmful. Hope that helps! – Victoria

      • Aurelia Oana on October 6, 2019 at 2:24 pm

        Thank You for your quick reply! IT is awesome! Yes, it’s pièces of cloth dipped in oil and put on the chest to cleanse the toxic substances from the lungs, several times, for around an hour each time.

        • Victoria Albina on October 6, 2019 at 2:29 pm

          My pleasure, and I hope it’s useful for you!

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