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Home / Articles / Health / Dear Pharmacist /  Castor oil is a comfy alternative to pain meds
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Saturday, November 28,2009

Castor oil is a comfy alternative to pain meds

By Suzy Cohen

Dear Pharmacist,

I’ve had monthly cramps for years so I take lots of Motrin and Midol. My mom came over and put an old-fashioned castor oil pack on me. It worked like magic. Can I apply it regularly? What else are castor oil packs used for?  

--C.S. Gainesville, Florida

Answer: Castor oil packs are a safe, natural alternative to relieve many aches and pains.  I think it’s great for monthly cramping or fibroid pain; many women confirm this comfy benefit, but ask your gynecologist because the heat will increase blood flow and so it may be contraindicated for you. 

I frequently recommend castor oil packs because they’re non-medicated, have no side effects, and the moist heat feels good instantly. Castor oil is rich in oleic and linoleic acid; it contains a strong anti-fungal, anti-microbial compound that’s why it helps with certain skin problems (keratosis, ringworm).  People with ligament strains, muscle aches, headaches and backaches may reap benefits.  It’s used most frequently by people who suffer with abdominal discomfort such as constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, gallbladder disease, pancreatitis, spleen or liver problems.

Castor oil is a vegetable oil that comes from the castor bean, which is actually a seed from the plant, Ricinus communis.  India leads the global pack for production.  As far back as 4000 BC, castor seeds were found in Egyptian tombs; the famous medical clairvoyant Edgar Cayce recommended castor oil in many of his readings. 

Naturopaths can’t agree on this, but I feel that castor oil should only be applied to the skin, not taken internally.  An ideal location to apply the pack is on the right side of the abdomen over the gallbladder and liver, because this promotes bile flow, which relieves pain from digestive disorders.  If you suffer with chronic pancreatitis, a castor oil pack may feel good. Women who get Mittelschmerz (ovulation pain) enjoy the warmth of a castor oil pack just below the belly button.

 You will need a bottle of castor oil and a piece of wool cloth, about 12 by 12 inches. These items are sold at health food stores and natural grocers. You’ll need some clear plastic wrap, or a plastic bag.    Squirt the castor oil onto the wool pad.   Saturate the cloth, but don’t make it dripping wet.  Warm the castor oil-saturated cloth by microwaving it 30 seconds.  Careful, it gets hot very quickly.  Apply the pack wherever your pain is.  Cover the wet cloth with the plastic wrap, and then put a little dish towel over it.  Then, put a hot water bottle on top to keep the pack warm while you lay back and rest.  Leave it on for 30 minutes to an hour, and repeat applications several times a week.   Never apply to open (bleeding) wounds. To remove the oiliness from your skin, use a mixture of water and baking soda.

Did You Know?

Pumpkin seeds contain special oils and minerals which may improve symptoms of enlarged prostate (BPH).

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