Many people are aware that castor oil can be used as a strong laxative, or to induce labor when taken orally. It can also be used externally with a lot of benefits. Because it has so many beneficial properties, it is one of the things that every home should have in its medicine cabinet.
Uses and benefits of castor oil
- It has anti-inflammatory properties — massaged into joints (osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis), sore muscles, or after a workout, castor oil can do a lot of good.
- It promotes the flow of lymph — one of the best ways to do this is to massage it into the pectoralis minor muscle. The right side drains the head and right arm, and the left side drains the rest of the body. This can improve the immune system and help with allergies, chronic infections, and other immune problems.
- It can soften scar tissue, thickened skin, and cysts — after scar tissue is formed, whether from an injury or a surgery, it can cause adhesions that prevent full range of motion, disruption of acupuncture meridians, or even changes in gut motility.
- It promotes deep and restful sleep — you can use a castor oil pack to do this, in the traditional Edgar Cayce style, or you can use the quick method. Massage castor oil into the abdomen for a couple of minutes, throw on an old shirt that you don’t mind getting oily, and then go to bed.
- It can promote bowel regularity — not just when taken internally, but also when used as described above.
- Skin Issues — the main constituent in castor oil is antimicrobial, so it can be used on cuts, scrapes, burns, acne, warts, bites, athlete’s foot, and even poison ivy! It is doubly effective since it regulates inflammation and promotes healing of the tissues. It can also be used to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Since castor oil does promote lymph and blood flow, it is contraindicated in cases where there is bleeding. Also, it has been used to induce labor so don’t take it internally during pregnancy.
The human body is amazing with great adaptive capacity and gives us clear signs and symptoms when it is not functioning optimally. We are fortunate to have such a system built in that gives us feedback about what is working in our lives and what isn’t. As a naturopathic physician, my job is to collect these signs and symptoms and put them together to form a picture of what is causing an illness or disease.