Do Castor Oil Packs Work?
If you aren’t familiar, castor packs–sometimes called castor oil pack–have been used for a number of different conditions and illnesses. A castor oil pack is made by basically taking a piece of fabric, like a piece of flannel, soaking it in castor oil, and then placing that soaked fabric on the skin. But, that’s not all. The soaked fabric is covered with a sheet of plastic and a hot water bottle is placed over the plastic to provide heat. Usually castor oil is sold as a kit with all of these items so folks don’t have to worry about finding all of these materials on their own. Usually, this pack is then left on the skin for up to an hour, depending on the type of kit that was purchased. Each one has its own instructions.
Now, for liver cleansing, improving lymphatic drainage, and helping the immune system… basically, they couldn’t hurt. Unless someone was allergic to castor oil or the fabric, or if the water bottle was too hot, using this type of treatment likely would do no harm. Whether castor oil packs actually help the liver clean the blood or improve lymphatic drainage and the immune system is hard to say. What often happens when folks use these types of therapies is that they believe it will make them feel better.
Sometimes, just that belief will in fact make them feel better, which in turn could make their immune system stronger. Why? Well, if they feel better, maybe they’ll sleep better and eat better, and get up and move… all of these things can improve the immune system. In fact, moving around actually helps improve lymph drainage! So, again, I would say if you enjoy it and it makes you feel better and it's not harming anyone or anything in the process, go for it! But, without well-designed studies, I simply don’t know if castor oil kits are truly helpful. On the other hand, manual lymphatic drainage therapy–basically, a type of massage that’s designed to help drain our lymph nodes–has been showing promise. But, here again, there aren’t enough studies out there to really know for sure. If it doesn’t cause any harm and makes you feel better, enjoy!
What is Castor Oil Used For?
Castor oil is often used as a simulative laxative. As this oil is a natural emollient, people sometimes use a few drops to remedy dry skin. It can also be applied as a massage oil or benefit hair as a natural treatment.
Castor oil comes from the castor bean and has been used since ancient Egyptian times. Most of its traditional usage is a result of word of mouth and folk medicine circles from around the globe. The active component is ricinoleic acid (RA), which brings about analgesic as well as anti-inflammatory effects.
Does Acupuncture Work?
The second part of this episode discusses acupuncture, which has been around for a long time.
You can read more on an updated post regarding alternative therapies.
Listen to Dr. Neal’s episode on this topic on the podcast Optimal Health Daily.