Castor Oil Packs: Benefits and How to Use

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/22/2024

With roots tracing as far back as ancient Egypt, castor oil has been a staple in natural healing practices for centuries. 

Castor oil packs are renowned for their therapeutic benefits and may help lower inflammation, promote detoxification, and alleviate pain. 

Discover the potential health benefits of castor oil packs and learn how to make and use them at home.
Castor oil

What are castor oil packs?

Castor oil packs involve soaking a piece of fabric in castor oil and then applying it to specific areas of the body. 

Castor oil is a thick, pale-yellow oil extracted from the seeds of the castor plant, also known as Ricinus communis. It’s utilized for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, laxative, and moisturizing properties. 

Aside from its medicinal value, castor oil is a widely used ingredient in cosmetic products and a natural cleaning agent.

Watch this video to learn more about the therapeutic benefits of castor oil for your face, skin, and hair. 

The Therapeutic Benefits of CASTOR OIL

Benefits of castor oil packs

“The benefits of castor oil  are largely attributed to ricinoleic acid, which is a unique unsaturated fatty acid that constitutes around 90 percent of castor oil's composition,” explains Dr.Berg.

Castor oil packs can harness the medicinal properties of ricinoleic acid, offering potential health advantages when applied topically.

Here are the top three benefits of castor oil packs.

1. Promote detoxification  

While scientific evidence linking castor oil packs to detoxification is limited, ricinoleic acid is believed to stimulate lymphatic circulation and enhance lymphatic drainage. 

In addition, castor oil has been approved as a laxative by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), providing a natural plant-based alternative to pharmaceutical drugs with laxative properties. 

Optimal lymphatic drainage and digestive functions are essential for several detoxification processes needed to remove toxins, waste products, and excess fluids from the body.

2. Help lower inflammation 

Research published in Mediators of Inflammation reveals that ricinoleic acid parallels the anti-inflammatory effects of capsaicin, the compound responsible for the characteristic heat of hot peppers, but without its irritating qualities.

The study observed that ricinoleic acid can influence pain receptors and may have the ability to modulate inflammatory responses. 

This effect suggests a promising therapeutic application of castor oil to help mitigate pain associated with inflammation.

3. Support female reproductive health 

Research conducted by the Max Planck Institute reveals that ricinoleic acid may activate certain receptors on intestinal and uterine muscle cells linked to pain perception, inflammation, and even uterine contractions. 

These findings support the long-term application of castor oil packs for alleviating pain connected to menstrual cramps and ovarian cysts. 

While castor oil packs can promote female reproductive health, pregnant women should exercise caution with castor oil, as it can trigger uterine contractions, which can cause serious complications. 

Man with medical bandage

How to make and use a castor oil pack

Making a castor oil pack is a relatively simple process. 

Here's a complete guide on how to make and use a DIY castor oil pack at home.


  • Scissors 

  • Organic, unbleached fabric

  • Glass jar or storage container

  • Castor oil

  • Plastic or beeswax wrap

  • Elastic bandage

  • Heating pad or hot water bottle


  1. Fold or use scissors to cut a piece of fabric large enough to cover the desired treatment area. 

  2. Place fabric in glass jar or storage container and pour castor oil onto fabric until completely soaked. 

  3. Once fabric is saturated, either seal container and store it for later use or use immediately.

  4. Place castor oil-soaked fabric directly on skin.

  5. Cover fabric with plastic or beeswax wrap. Allow wrap to extend past the edges of the saturated fabric to prevent leakage.

  6. Secure castor pack with elastic bandage. It should be snug but not overly tight and shouldn’t impede movement or breathing.

  7. Place a heating pad or hot water bottle over castor pack to improve absorption and blood circulation.

  8. Keep castor pack in place for 45 to 60 minutes. 

  9. Remove pack and store, wash, or discard fabric.

  10. Gently rub castor oil residues into skin or wash off.  

Here are a few additional tips to help you get the most out of your DIY castor oil pack.

High-quality castor oil

Choose cold-pressed, organic, non-GMO castor oil without harmful additives such as hexane, artificial preservatives, colors, or fragrances. 

Additionally, ensure it's packaged in a glass bottle instead of plastic. Glass packaging helps maintain the oil's quality and prevents potential chemical leaching from plastic containers.

Organic, unbleached fabric

Choose natural fabrics such as an organic cotton flannel, linen, or hemp that hasn't been treated with chemicals or dyes or washed with harsh detergents. 

Plastic wrap 

Ensure your plastic wrap is large enough to cover the oil-soaked fabric. Ideally, you'll want something that can completely wrap around the area for stability and cleanliness. 

For a more environmentally friendly choice, consider using a beeswax wrap, or look for biodegradable plastic wraps free of bisphenol A.

Glass jar or storage container

A glass container or jar with a lid is ideal for storing oil-soaked fabric and any leftover castor oil to keep it clean and protected for future use.

Applying healthy oil to hair

More benefits of castor oil

Castor oil’s rich ricinoleic acid content also offers a variety of hair and skin benefits due to its moisturizing, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Castor oil’s emollient effects can help alleviate brittle hair, promote scalp health, and improve hair growth

Applying castor oil can also help hydrate and soothe dry, irritated skin and reduce inflammation, making it particularly beneficial for skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis.

In addition, by providing deep and sustained hydration, castor oil can help enhance skin elasticity and help manage cracked heels, stretch marks, and skin redness.

Because of its antimicrobial properties, castor oil may help reduce the growth of acne-causing bacteria on the skin, potentially leading to clearer and healthier skin for those dealing with acne issues. 

Due to its anti-inflammatory qualities, castor oil can help reduce joint pain and enhance joint mobility when applied topically.

woman with digestive pain

Potential downsides of castor oil

Despite its popularity, castor oil does have potential downsides.

It’s recommended to perform a skin patch test before using castor oil. Some individuals can be sensitive to castor oil and develop skin irritation or other allergic reactions. 

Moreover, it's vital to exercise extreme caution while using castor oil in households with pets, as ricinoleic acid can be toxic to animals, especially dogs and cats.

Consult a medical professional before using castor oil for its laxative effects to verify that it’s the safest solution for your needs. Ingesting castor oil can cause gastrointestinal distress, including cramping, diarrhea, and nausea, especially if taken in large doses.

While castor oil is deemed generally safe for various uses, unprocessed castor seeds contain ricin, a potent toxin.

According to evidence published in Statpearls, consumption of castor plant seeds can cause ricin toxicity associated with gastrointestinal bleeding, shock, and pulmonary edema. 

Fresh castor oil and seeds

Key takeaways

By harnessing the benefits of ricinoleic acid, castor oil packs offer multiple therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and moisturizing effects.

Castor oil packs have been used for centuries to soothe inflammation, enhance skin and hair health, assist in pain management, and promote detoxification processes.


1. What do castor oil packs do for you?

Castor oil packs are believed to reduce pain, help lower inflammation, and enhance detoxification processes when applied topically. 

2. Does castor oil draw out toxins?

There is limited evidence to support the claim that using castor oil packs draws toxins from the skin. However, castor oil may stimulate lymphatic circulation, which plays a crucial role in removing toxins and waste products from the body. 

3. What are the downsides of castor oil?

Potential downsides of using castor oil topically include an increased risk of allergic reactions or skin irritation. In addition, consuming castor oil to manage constipation can cause gastrointestinal issues such as abdominal cramping and diarrhea. 

4. How long does it take to see results from castor oil packs?

How long it takes to see results from castor oil packs depends on the application and the specific health concern being addressed.

While castor oil can help relieve constipation within a few hours, it may take several weeks of regular use to see noticeable improvements in conditions such as skin inflammation, joint pain, or menstrual cramps.

5. Can I sleep with a castor oil pack?

It’s not recommended to sleep with a castor oil pack as it can stain bedding and clothing. In addition, prolonged exposure to castor oil may cause skin irritation or discomfort.





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