Castor Oil Packs: Why & How

In our practice, castor oil packs are one of the most common self care practices we recommend for women trying to conceive. Castor oil has been revered for its healing properties for thousands of years. The castor seed is native to India, but castor oil has been part of the healing traditions of a variety of different cultures. It can be used internally and topically, although we do NOT recommend ingesting castor oil in any amount. It can cause severe digestive distress! Using castor oil topically is much more gentle, and very rarely causes side effects.

So, why would YOU want to use castor oil? If you are trying to get pregnant, castor oil can be helpful in a couple different ways:

– Castor oil has an anti-inflammatory effect when used topically.

– It promotes lymph circulation. The lymphatic system is an important part of the circulatory and immune systems. It is basically a large drainage system that keeps all our body fluids in balance, and lymph fluid is full of infection-fighting cells to keep our immune system strong. By stimulating lymph circulation, using castor oil packs promotes fertility-friendly detoxification of all our tissues, especially in the pelvis.

– From a TCM perspective, moves qi and blood within the pelvis, helping to treat menstrual cramps, clotted menstrual blood, and constipation.

Doing a castor oil pack can be as simple or as complicated as you would like it to be. Directions on how to do a castor oil pack in the traditional method can be found HERE. Personally, I like to keep things really simple, and offer a less complicated method: just apply a thick layer of cold-pressed, hexane-free castor oil to your lower abdomen (between your belly button and your pubic symphysis). Lay an old hand towel or washcloth over your belly, and then lay a heating pad on top of that. You should be laying down while doing this, and of course feel free to read or watch TV while the pack is on! Leave on for 45-60 minutes, by which point all the castor oil should be absorbed. Castor oil can stain so it’s best to do these packs while you’re wearing pajamas or something similar. This is a very nice nighttime ritual, especially during your period!

You should avoid using castor oil if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or in your luteal phase if you are actively TTC.