Healing With Castor Oil

The Healing Power of Castor Oil

In the field of alternative therapies that have stood the test of time, castor oil stands out as a powerfully effective remedy. From warts to tumors, castor oil has been used for centuries to reduce and remove unwanted growths on, or in, the body, as well as killing bacteria or fungus on the skin. In this blog we take a look at this affordable, low-tech healing agent.



Seeds from the castor oil plant (ricinus communis), while native to India, have been found in Egyptian tombs, and, as well, were used by the ancients of Africa, China, Greece, Russia, and Rome. The Romans referred to the plant as Palma Christi, which means “hand of Christ” (a term still used today), as the leaves were believed to resemble the hands of Jesus.


The famed psychic healer, Edgar Cayce, is generally acknowledged as the person who brought the lost healing technique of castor oil use back to common usage in the twentieth century. In 1958, Vermont physician D.C. Jarvis further brought it to modern consciousness with his book  “Folk Medicine”. More recently (1993), Dr. W.A. McGarey has produced the book “The Oil That Heals”, based on his years of clinical experience with castor oil.  The Oil That Heals


How is Castor Oil Used?

In conventional medicine, castor oil is most commonly used internally, as remedy for constipation, or to induce vomiting. In the past, it was also often used to induce labor during childbirth, the theory being that castor oil acts as a stimulant to the bowels, which irritates the uterus and causes contractions. Medical studies suggest that labor may be more likely in the first 24 hours after ingesting castor oil, but they call into question the safety of the practice. Therefore, it should never be undertaken without the help of a midwife, or medical professional. 


As a natural healing agent, castor oil is most commonly applied to the body in the form of the castor oil pack (instructions to follow), though in many cases it may just be rubbed into the skin.


Castor Oil as a Killing Agent

Topically, castor oil is a valuable killing agent (these properties are the reason for the safety concerns when used to induce labor). A substance called ricinoleic acid makes up the majority of the fatty acid content of castor oil. This fatty acid has been shown to halt and kill a wide range of bacteria, molds, viruses, and yeasts.


In treating conditions that involve these ailments (such as ringworm, warts, nail-fungus, skin inflammation, etc.), the area is wrapped in a cloth soaked with castor oil, each evening (with some kind of plastic over-coat to stop the oil from leaking out). For deep bacterial or fungal infections, especially nails that have gotten to the point of being hardened and discolored, it is more effective to soak the area in warm water and Epsom salts, for 15 minutes prior to applying the castor oil. 


Castor Oil in many cases will work without the need for an oil pack, and may be simply rubbed or massaged into the skin. Or, for small issues, like warts or moles, one can soak the gauze area of a band-aid in castor oil, apply to the spot, and change daily.


Ailments that respond to topical application include bacterial infections, bursitis, fungal infections, itching, liver spots, keratosis, moles, over strained muscles, ringworm, sebaceous cysts, sprains and damaged ligaments, stretch marks, warts, and wounds.


Enhancing Immune Function

Along with killing off invasive bacteria, fungus, and viruses, castor oil supports and enhances immune functions. According to research done by Dr. William McGarey (author of “The Oil That Heals”), it does this by increasing lymphocyte production, and improving thymus gland function.


Lymphocytes are produced by the lymph system, which includes the spleen, the lymph nodes throughout the body, and the lymphatic tissue that is found in the small intestine (called Peyer’s patches). The lymph system is like your circulatory system, but without a heart to keep everything circulating. Therefore, it depends on constant movement and exercise, in order to perform its function of cleaning waste material out of the body. (The best form of exercise for lymph drainage is the mini-trampoline, or “rebounder”.)


Lymph function declines with age, and lack of exercise, and one sign that the lymph system is failing is when one develops what is known as “pitting” edema. The test for this form of edema is as follows: in areas of water retention, such as the ankles, hands or feet, we press a finger into the skin, creating a small depression or “pit”. If the pit remains for over 5 seconds, one has serious lymph drainage problems. By the time this symptom occurs, the cells are receiving insufficient oxygen and nutrients, and are being forced to try to survive while surrounded by waste materials. Poor lymph drainage eventually can damage the organs, including the heart, kidneys, and liver.


Almost every health issue should include an approach to keeping the lymph system working well, and castor oil packs nicely fulfill this need. Castor oil can also be used as a massage-oil, if one follows the direction of the lymphatic drainage system. (Here is one example of how to do a lymphatic drainage massage: Lymph


How To Prepare a Castor Oil Pack

-Flannel cloth is prepared according to the size of the area to be covered.

-For abdominal application it should be approximately eight inches wide and ten to twelve inches long.

-The cloth is folded until it is two or three thickness deep.

-Soak the cloth in a dish or pan of castor oil, wring out the flannel until it is wet but not dripping (usually about ¼ to ½ cup of oil is required).

-The flannel is placed next to the skin and a plastic covering then applied on top of the wet cloth.

-Commonly, at this point, a heating pad is laid on top of the plastic, and set to a medium heat setting. In the days before heating pads, the oil itself was heated, the belief being that the oil finds it easier to penetrate the skin, and find its way deeply into tissue.

-Other alternatives to the heating pack include applying the pack immediately after a hot bath, sunbathing with the pack on, or focusing an infrared heat reflector lamp on the pack (about two feet away from the pack).

-When using a heating pack the temperature is usually kept as high as can be tolerated.

-Some like to wrap a towel around the body, and hold the pack tightly in place with safety pins. This both retains the heat and helps to prevent staining of bedding or clothing.

-Use a plastic sheet over the bed or furniture where the application is to be done, since if any castor oil spills it will stain fabric and wood.

-The pack should be left on for one to one and a half hours, for optimal benefit.

-Once the pack is removed, the oil left on the skin is often massaged into the skin. Or, if one desires, it may be washed off the skin with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of baking soda in one quart of warm water.


The most common areas to treat with a castor oil pack are over the liver (apply to the upper abdomen area, to the right of the navel), or the abdomen. Since the liver is essential to the body’s ability to detoxify, using castor oil packs can be a good way to detoxify toxins from your whole body, and reduce cancer risk. For menstrual irregularities, uterine fibroids, or ovarian cysts,  it would be applied to the abdomen, for lower back problems, it would be applied directly to the lower back.


Once finished with the treatment, the flannel may be stored in a plastic bag, in the fridge, for future use. It may be re-used up to five times, but, before reusing, add another couple tablespoons of fresh castor oil to refresh the used pack. As well, warm the cloth back up  to at least room temperature (either in a pot on the stove or with the heating pad). When reheating to a high temperature, it should only be re-used a few times, as constant reheating can cause the oil to go rancid.


Most Common Uses of Castor Oil in Folk Medicine

Appendicitis, arthritis, asthma, bladder and vaginal infections, boils, breast lumps, Crohn’s disease and colitis, cysts, dysentery, edema, eye problems, fertility, fibroids, hair loss (10 parts grain alcohol to one part castor oil), healing the umbilical cord in newborns, increase lactation (when applied to the breast), liver and gallbladder diseases, gallstones, lymph congestion, menstrual problems, migraines, PCOS, sciatica, shingles, sinus infections, skin ulcers, tonsillitis, and treating inflamed nipples in nursing mothers.


Other Uses

Castor oil is now often touted as an agent that helps women to grow thicker, longer eyelashes and eyebrows. Eyelashes


Another modern use of castor oil is for dissolving cataracts, as well as treating other eye conditions including dry eyes, red eyes, sensitive eyes, nearsightedness, and glaucoma. In these cases, the castor oil is actually used as eye drops.   Cataracts 


Castor oil pack are also often used as a treatment for cancerous tumors, but in this case, should only be used with the help of a health professional. For more information on that subject, have a view of this video.  Video



Always be sure to choose a high quality castor oil, since what we put on our skin enters our bloodstream. “Cold pressed” castor oil is the minimum grade we should look for. The highest grade is “pale pressed”, also known as AA standard, and is essentially an “extra virgin” oil, which, as with olive oil, means that it is the first pressing of the oil. And, ideally one should purchase an organic product, if available.


While castor oil topically is suggested for increasing lactation, and treating inflamed nipples, women who are breastfeeding should not do castor oil packs. Castor oil packs move toxins into circulation, where they can then be expelled by the body. When a mother is breastfeeding, these toxins could potentially enter the breast milk, and thus transfer to the nursing infant.


Though recommended for menstrual irregularities, women who have heavy menstrual bleeding, should avoid using castor oil packs during their menstruation. Castor oil packs may induce further bleeding, and could potentially be dangerous in this situations. For women who do not have excessive bleeding, and are experiencing cramps or discomfort, castor oil packs can be helpful in reducing pain.


The ricinoleic acid found in castor oil is a natural laxative, and can help with conditions such as bloating, cramping, constipation, and gas. However, it can also irritate the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, potentially aggravating conditions such as colitis, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, and ulcers. Thus, it should not be taken orally if one has any of these conditions.

Those with very sensitive skin, or chronic skin conditions that are easily aggravated, are at more risk for a reaction to castor oil, and therefore should proceed slowly, if they wish to use it topically.


More Information

For a detailed article on 30 uses for castor oil follow this link.


DISCLAIMER: The above material is offered for educational purposes only. Anyone with a serious ailment should consult with a health professional before attempting to treat themselves with castor oil packs.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

* indicates required
  • Contact

  • NutriStart Vitamin Company

  • 14-755 Vanalman Avenue

  • Victoria, BC

  • 1-800-813-4233

Scroll to Top