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Mar 2

Liver and Lymph: Castor Oil Pack Detox

Castor oil’s a tricky thing. One component of the castor bean is undoubtedly poisonous if consumed, but the oil has been used for centuries internally and topically…topically it’s pretty amazing, which is why I’m stoked to include it as part of my Spring detox…here’s how you can too!

In 1999 a study in the Journal of Naturopathic Medicine showed that castor oil, when applied in a heating pack to the body, boosted the production of lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are the immune soldiers of the body, fighting disease throughout your lymphatic system. Further, the heat from the pack stimulates the dilation of blood vessels and lymph channels, increasing mobility of these soldiers so that they reach throughout the body to provide deep healing and immune support, and stirs up toxins in need of removal.

Stimulating and cleansing the lymphatic system and liver is a pillar of any good detox regime, which is why I’ve chosen to use a castor oil pack daily during my Spring detox. You can too! Here’s how:

  • Visit your local health food store or health-conscious grocery store and pick up a bottle of high-quality (preferably organic), hexane-free castor oil (and while you’re there, grab a hot water bottle or microwavable heating pad if you don’t already have one, and saran wrap).
  • Cut an old tea towel or washcloth into a piece aprox. 5 inches wide and 8 inches long.
  • Place this piece in a glass cup and pour castor oil over it until it is submerged and absorbs the oil.
  • While you’re waiting for absorption (you can help it along with your hands…sticky but easily washed off!), tear off a piece of saran wrap larger than the towel and place on your counter. Heat water for your hot water bottle.
  • When your towel has absorbed the castor oil, place it on the saran wrap, fill your hot water bottle, and bring both to your bed or couch. Grab a book and get ready to relax for half an hour! (Keep in mind that castor oil STAINS—I found this out the hard way—wear an old t-shirt and use enough saran wrap to fully cover the cloth. You can also buy already-made packs from most health food stores!)
  • When you’re comfortably propped up, place the towel over your liver (upper-right quadrant of your body, just under your ribs), saran wrap facing upwards, and the hot water bottle on top.
  • Enjoy the warmth for half an hour or even an hour, if you have the time (who does?!), and relax.

Afterwards, you can store the cloth in the fridge in a glass container for a month and re-use as often as you like. The oil can be washed off or massaged into your skin—it’s a great skin softener!

Use this method daily for a week or ten days as an adjunct to a detox program or on it’s own when you’re feeling run down or especially full of toxins.

You can check out my detox programs here for a more in-depth approach to cleansing, including which foods to eat and which to avoid, herbal tea combinations for detoxing each body system, supplementation to enhance detoxification, and a variety of lifestyle additions.

Happy Spring Cleaning everyone!