Studies Support Castor Oil’s Efficacy as an Antimicrobial, Anti-Inflammatory, and Immunostimulant
Thanks to mercola.com for this data
While castor oil has been thoroughly investigated for its industrial use, only a minimal amount of research has been directed toward its medicinal benefits. That said, the healing properties of castor oil appear to have survived countless generations of scrutiny.
I believe it has enough history behind it to at least warrant greater scientific exploration, and perhaps a little careful at-home experimentation on your own. Oftentimes, modern day scientific studies end up validating thousands of years of “folklore.” Castor oil studies are hard to track down, but I did find a few notable ones, which I have summarized in the table below.
1.Castor oil has been found to have a strong suppressive effect on some tumors.
2.An Indian study in 2011 found that castor leaf extract showed better antibacterial activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria than Gentamycin (their standard for comparison).xii
3.A 2010 study found that castor oil packs were an effective means of decreasing constipation in the elderly.xii
4.This 2009 study found that castor oil effectively relieves arthritis symptoms.xiii
5.A 1999 studyxiv was carried out to determine whether or not topical castor oil would stimulate the lymphatic system. The findings were positive. After a two-hour treatment with castor oil packs, there was a significant increase in the number of T-11 cells, which increased over a seven-hour period following treatment.
6.In this 2000 studyxv of the effects of ricinoleic acid on inflammation, researchers found it exerted “capsaicin-like” antiinflammatory properties.
7.Patients with occupational dermatitis may have a positive reaction to castor oil or ricinoleic acid.xvi
Castor Oil May Promote Healing by Boosting Your Lymphatic System
One of the more compelling health benefits, if true, is castor oil’s support of your immune system. And this healing property does not require you ingest the oil, but only apply it externally.
The benefits of castor oil packs were popularized by the late psychic healer Edgar Cayce, and then later researched by primary care physician William McGarey of Phoenix, Arizona, a follower of Cayce’s work and the author of The Oil That Heals. McGarey reported that, when used properly, castor oil packs improve the function of your thymus gland and other components of your immune system. More specifically, he found in two separate studies that patients using abdominal castor oil packs had significant increases in lymphocyte production compared to placebo packs.
Lymphocytes are your immune system’s disease-fighting cells and are produced and stored mainly in your lymphatic tissuexvii (thymus gland, spleen, and lymph nodes). Hundreds of miles of lymphatic tubules allow waste to be collected from your tissues and transported to your blood for elimination, a process referred to as lymphatic drainage. When your lymphatic system is not working properly, waste and toxins can build up and make you sick.
Lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease.
This is where castor oil comes in. When castor oil is absorbed through your skin (according to Cayce and McGarey), your lymphocyte count increases. Increased lymphocytes speed up the removal of toxins from your tissues, which promotes healing.
Castor Oil Packs a Punch, Topically
Castor oil “packs” can be an economical and efficient method of infusing the ricinoleic acid and other healing components of castor oil directly into your tissues. You would be wise to do a “patch test” prior to applying a castor oil pack to make sure you aren’t allergic to the oil.
There are several ways to use castor oil topically. You can simply rub castor oil onto an affected area of your skin. Or, you can affix a Band-Aide soaked in castor oil if only a very small area needs to be treated. For larger or more systemic applications, it can be used as massage oil, which is reported especially effective when applied along your spinal column, massaged along your lymphatic drainage pathways. But the coup de grace of castor oil therapy is the “castor oil pack.”
To make a castor oil pack, you will need the following supplies:
1.High quality cold-pressed castor oil (see last section of this article)
2.A hot water bottle or heating pad
3.Plastic wrap, sheet of plastic, or plastic garbage bag
4.Two or three one-foot square pieces of wool or cotton flannel, or one piece large enough to cover the entire treatment area when folded in thirds
5.One large old bath towel
Below are instructions for making and using a castor oil pack (courtesy of Daniel H. Chong, ND):
•Fold flannel three layers thick so it is still large enough to fit over your entire upper abdomen and liver, or stack the three squares.
•Soak flannel with the oil so that it is completely saturated. The oil should be at room temperature.
•Lie on your back with your feet elevated (using a pillow under your knees and feet works well), placing flannel pack directly onto your abdomen; cover oiled flannel with the sheet of plastic, and place the hot water bottle on top of the plastic.
•Cover everything with the old towel to insulate the heat. Take caution not to get the oil on whatever you are laying on, as it can stain. If necessary, cover that surface with something to protect it.
•Leave pack on for 45 to 60 minutes.
•When finished, remove the oil from your skin by washing with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda to one quart water, or just soap and water. (Be sure to wash the towel by itself, as the castor oil can make other clothes stink if washed together.)
•You can reuse the pack several times, each time adding more oil as needed to keep the pack saturated. Store the pack in a large zip-lock bag or other plastic container in a convenient location, such as next to your bed. Replace the pack after it begins to change color.
•For maximum effectiveness, apply at least four consecutive days per week for one month. Patients who use the pack daily report the most benefits.
Be Cautious when Purchasing Castor Oil
As with everything else, you must be careful about your source of castor oil. Much of the oil currently sold in stores is derived from castor seeds that have been heavily sprayed with pesticides, solvent-extracted (hexane is commonly used), deodorized, or otherwise chemically processed, which damages beneficial phytonutrients and may even contaminate the oil with toxic agents.