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HEALING POWERS OF CASTOR OIL TO TREAT WIDE VARIETY OF HEALTH CONDITIONS
In many ways, castor oil is a very unique substance. While most of us
are familiar with its use as a remedy for constipation, folk healers in this country and around the world have used castor oil to treat a wide variety of conditions. Its effectiveness is probably due in part to its peculiar chemical composition.
Castor oil is a triglyceride of fatty acids. Almost 90 percent of its
fatty acid content consists of ricinoleic acid. To my knowledge,
ricinoleic acid is not found in any other substance except castor oil.
Such a high concentration of this unusual, unsaturated fatty acid is
thought to be responsible for castor oil’s remarkable healing abilities.
Ricinoleic acid has been shown to be effective in preventing the growth of numerous species of viruses, bacteria, yeasts and molds. (J Am Oil Chem Soc 61;37.323-325.) This would explain the high degree of success in the topical use of the oil for treating such ailments as ringworm, keratoses (non-cancerous, wart-like skin growths), skin inflammation, abrasions, fungal-infected finger- and toenails, acne and chronic pruritus (itching). Generally, for these conditions the area involved is simply wrapped in cloth soaked with castor oil each night, or if the area is small enough, a castor oil soaked Band-Aid can be used. (For persistent infections and those finger- and toenails that have discolored and hardened, a good 10 to 20 minute soak in Epsom salts, prior to applying the castor oil, usually speeds up the healing process.)
Castor oil’s antimicrobial activity, while very impressive, comprises
only a small part of the story concerning this mysterious oil. While
castor oil has been thoroughly investigated for its industrial uses,
only a minimal amount of research effort has been directed toward its
In Russia the oil is known as “Kastorka.” The stem of the plant is
used in the textile industry. The extracted oil has a very consistent
viscosity and won’t freeze even in Russia’s severe climate. This makes
it an ideal lubricating oil in industrial equipment. Medicinally, the
oil is added to products to restore hair (one part oil to 10 parts of
grain alcohol), treat constipation, skin ulcers, some infectious
gynecological conditions and eye irritations.
The castor bean plant is actually native to India, where it is called
“Erand.” There we found it being used extensively for all types of
gastrointestinal problems like constipation, dysentery and
inflammatory bowel disease. It was also used to treat bladder and
vaginal infections and asthma. We were told the seed kernels or hulls
(without the actual seed) could be boiled in milk and water and taken
internally to relieve arthritis and lower back pain accompanied by
We also found early reports of nursing mothers in the Canary Islands
using poultices made from the leaves of the castor bean. They applied
the poultice to their breasts to increase milk secretion and relieve
inflammation and milk stagnation in the mammary glands. Applying the poultice to the abdominal area promoted normal menstruation.
While I find all of these uses of castor oil very interesting, the
most exciting use deals with ways to increase topical absorption
through the use of castor oil packs or poultices.
Much of the current use of castor oil packs, in the U.S. anyway, can
be attributed to the late healing psychic, Edgar Cayce. Time after
time he recommended their use. Based on his reports, I began to use
them in my practice over 12 years ago. But even though I, and numerous other doctors, have continued to experience remarkable results, the technique is still practically unknown and shunned by most health care professionals today. This is probably due to two reasons. First, it’s just too simple. It’s hard for most people to imagine that something as simple as castor oil packs could have a profound effect on any health problem. Secondly, in our present health care system, positive results alone do not constitute the critical factor in determining
whether a treatment will be accepted by the medical establishment.
[Everybody (except probably the poor patient) now seems to be more
concerned about how something is supposed to work, than whether it
actually works at all.] Recent research data presented by longtime
follower of Edgar Cayce, Dr. William McGarey of Phoenix, Arizona,
might help shed some light on how castor oil works.
If you’re not particularly interested in how castor oil enhances the
immune system, feel free to skip the next couple of paragraphs. Anyone
suffering from AIDS or other serious viral or bacterial diseases may
find this information helpful, however. Numerous AIDS patients have
been able to increase their T-cell counts and clear up many of their
problems by using the techniques I’ll be describing. Others have found
it useful in eliminating chronic problems with epilepsy, hyperactivity, liver and gallbladder diseases and chronic fluid retention. (Fortunately, to benefit from this and other natural therapies you really don’t have to understand how they work.)
McGarey has reported that, when used properly, castor oil packs
improve the function of the thymus gland and other areas of the immune system. More specifically, he found in two separate studies that
patients using abdominal castor oil packs had significant increases in
the production of lymphocytes compared to increases among those using placebo packs.
Lymphocytes are the disease-fighting cells of your immune system. They
are produced and housed mainly in your lymphatic tissue. This includes
the thymus gland, the spleen, the lymph nodes and the lymphatic tissue
that lines the small intestine (called Peyer’s patches, or more commonly, aggregated lymphatic follicles). Strangely, other than knowing it produces the body’s white blood cells, most doctors are not very knowledgeable about the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is an amazingly complex structure. It works hand
in hand with both the blood circulatory system and the digestive system.
In the circulatory system newly oxygenated blood from the lungs moves
from the heart along smaller and smaller arteries until it reaches the
smallest vessels called capillaries. It is in these microscopic tubules that the blood exchanges oxygen and nutrients for cellular waste products with surrounding body cells. The capillaries then gradually become larger and form veins through which the unoxygenated, waste-carrying blood returns back to the lungs and then to the heart to be recirculated time and time again.
Much of the fluid accompanying the blood and large protein molecules
leak from these capillaries. Additional fluids and waste products are
expelled from every cell in the body. These fluids accumulate in the
small spaces between the cells. If all of this material weren’t somehow removed we would begin to swell like a toad and die within a matter of 24 hours. Fortunately, we have a completely separate circulation system, called the lymphatic system, that is able to absorb and remove these fluids, proteins and waste materials. With the exception of the brain, where these proteins and fluids flow directly into the fluid that surrounds them, the extensive lymphatic network has hundreds of miles of tubules that cover the entire body. Through these tubules all of this material is returned to the blood so it can be utilized or eliminated from the body. (There is no pathway, other than the lymphatic system, that excess protein molecules can use to return to the circulatory system.)
Also, along these lymphatic tubules you’ll find bulb-shaped masses
called lymph nodes, which act as filters and produce antibodies when
foreign proteins are encountered. I’m sure you’ve experienced the
tenderness and swelling of an inflamed lymph node at one time or
another. It is usually a result of antibodies fighting an infection
either in the node itself or somewhere in the draining area of that
particular lymph chain.
In addition to returning leaking fluid from the circulation system and
creating antibodies for the immune system, the lymphatic system also
performs another very important function. Clumps of lymphatic tissue,
called Peyer’s patches, are spread throughout the small intestine.
Unlike other nutrients, fat molecules are generally too large to be
absorbed directly from the intestine. Instead, they are absorbed by
these patches and transported along the lymphatic system and then
released into the blood stream where they can be carried throughout
the body. Between 80 to 90 percent of all the fat absorbed from the
gut requires the help of the lymphatic system.
When it comes to treating the majority of health problems, the status
of your lymphatic system is rarely given any consideration whatsoever.
Medical students are taught that a failure of the lymphatic system is
obvious to detect because it is accompanied by “pitting” edema (the
accumulation of fluid in the tissues, i.e. swelling, usually in the feet, ankles or hands). The test for “pitting” edema is rather simple. A finger is pressed into the skin at the area of the swelling and then quickly removed. The skin stays depressed, forming a small “pit”, which remains until the fluid outside the cells has time to return to the area (this can take anywhere from 5 to 30 seconds). Unfortunately, research studies have shown that “pitting” edema and other signs of fluid retention can’t be observed until fluid levels outside the cells reach 30 percent above normal. In other words, you can have a serious lymphatic drainage problem long before it can be detected.
Several problems occur when the lymph drainage slows and fluids begin
to accumulate around the cells. First, the individual cells are forced
further and further away from the capillaries. The amount of oxygen
and nourishment they receive is decreased. Under exertion or stress
some cells may die. Additionally, cells are forced to survive in their
own waste and toxic by-products. This situation can eventually lead to
the degeneration and destruction of organs. For example, poor
lymphatic drainage of the heart can lead to tissue damage and even
heart failure. Similar problems occur in the liver, the kidneys and
A good analogy would be if you confined yourself to one room of your
house. Someone could bring you food and water, but not remove any of
your waste products. Eventually you would have difficulty remaining
healthy in such an environment. As your waste accumulated, not only
would you become sick, those around you would begin to experience the
same fate. Just like it is for each cell, in addition to nourishment
and oxygen, the removal of waste products is essential for continued
health of the entire body.
Fluid accumulation outside the cells also stretches the tissue in the
area. The more it stretches and the longer it remains that way, the
harder it becomes to correct the problem.
Regardless of the health problem, most doctors generally assume the
lymphatic system is working adequately. This assumption is made at the
peril of the patient. Research has shown that as we age certain organs
begin to degenerate. The thymus gland is a key component of the immune system. It is initially responsible for the proper development of the lymphatic system and is practically absent in older individuals.
Peyer’s patches, those clumps of lymphatic tissue found in the small
intestine, begin to get smaller with age and are often destroyed by
certain diseases like typhoid fever. (Cayce felt that the overall
health and well-being of an individual was directly related to the
health of these Peyer’s patches. He stated on several occasions, that
a certain compound formed in these patches was necessary for
maintaining the integrity of the nervous system. He may very well be
correct. To this day, we still don’t totally understand the functions
and importance of either the thymus gland or Peyer’s patches.)
Efforts should be taken to improve the function of the lymphatic
system in every health problem. This applies to AIDS, as well as heart
disease, hemorrhoids and everything in between. No drug exists that
has the ability to improve lymphatic flow; however, the job can easily
be handled through the topical application of castor oil.
When castor oil is absorbed through the skin, several extraordinary
events take place. The lymphocyte count of the blood increases. This
is a result of a positive influence on the thymus gland and/or lymphatic tissue.
The flow of lymph increases throughout the body. This speeds up the
removal of toxins surrounding the cells and reduces the size of swollen lymph nodes. The end result is a general overall improvement in organ function with a lessening of fatigue and depression.
As toxicity is reduced, the pH of the saliva becomes less acidic,
indicating improved health. The Peyer’s patches in the small intestine
become more efficient in their absorption of fatty acids, which are
essential for the formation of hormones and other components necessary for growth and repair.
Common Methods of Using Castor Oil
The most common way to use castor oil (and most objectionable, I might add) has been to take it orally. Generally, oral doses are used to
correct constipation. The recommended dose is usually 1 tablespoon for
adults and 1 teaspoon for children. You can usually expect a “purging”
of the system in about four to six hours.
Rubbed or Massaged Directly Into the Skin
For several conditions I’ll mention later, the oil can simply be
rubbed into the skin. It can also be used as a massage oil which seems
to be especially effective when applied along the spinal column. If the oil is massaged into the body, the direction of the massage should always follow the same path as the underlying Iymphatic drainage system. The diagram below shows the proper direction to massage the oil and further facilitate lymphatic drainage. [Vater and Asdonk, Gesaltschaft for Manuelle Lymph Drainage (Essen, Germany).]
Conditions Responding to Topical Application
Oftentimes there is no need for castor oil packs; amazing results can
be obtained by simply applying it directly to the skin. The following
is a short list of some of the more common ailments it can remedy:
fungal and bacterial infections
abdominal stretch marks (prevention)
senile lentigo (“liver” or “aging” spots)
Castor Oil Packs
One of the most useful and least utilized methods of using castor oil
is to employ packs. Packs are an economical and efficient method of
absorbing the ricinoleic acid and other healing components of castor
oil directly into body tissues. (The following basic procedure was
outlined in several of the readings of Edgar Cayce.)
To make a castor oil pack you will need the following items: cold
pressed castor oil, a standard heating pad, a plastic garbage bag, two
or three one-foot square pieces of wool or cotton flannel and one
large bath towel.
1. Start by placing the heating pad on a flat surface and turn the
setting to high.
2. On top of the pad lay the plastic garbage bag. Next, soak the
flannel pieces with castor oil generally about 1/2 cup) and lay them
on top of the garbage bag and heating pad.
3. The entire pack can now be placed against the body with the
oil-soaked flannel on the skin. For general conditions the pack should
be placed on the abdomen. (For treating lower back problems, the pack
can be placed there.) To help hold the pack in place and to keep oil
from getting on bedding, etc., the body can be wrapped in a large bath
4. The pack should remain in place for at least one hour and the
temperature of the heating pad should be kept at the highest
temperature tolerable to the patient.
5. When you remove the pack, the remaining oil can be massaged into
the skin or cleaned off using a little soda water made from 1 quart of
warm water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda.
6. The flannel can be reused if stored properly after removing the
pack. Put the flannel in either a plastic bag or zip-loc container and
place it in the refrigerator. Before using it next time let it warm up
and always add another 1 or 2 tablespoons of fresh cold pressed castor
oil. (After a month of use I would recommend using new flannel.)
Conditions Responding to Castor Oil Packs
Due to the many effects of its fatty acid component, ricinoleic acid,
the use of castor oil can be used topically to treat a wide variety of
Obviously, conditions known to be related to poor drainage of the
lymphatic system will tend to benefit from this type of therapy. These
would include complaints such as:
1. chronic fluid retention with swollen joints and pain
3. upper respiratory infections involving the sinuses,
tonsils and inner ear
4. colon problems like Crohn’s disease or colitis
5. gallbladder disease
7. liver cirrhosis, hepatitis, enlargement or congestion
8. menstrual-related congestion
11. constipation, bowel impaction or adhesions
12. swollen lymph nodes
13. bladder and vaginal infections
Several neurological problems have also been responsive to castor oil.
1. nerve inflammations such as sciatica, shingles, etc.
2. Parkinson’s disease
3. multiple sclerosis
4. migraine headaches
5. cerebral palsy
Conditions that stress or compromise the immune system will very often
benefit from castor oil packs. Nowhere is this more obvious than with
AIDS. I have talked with several AIDS patients who have added castor
oil packs (usually for one hour a day) to their treatment regimen with
very positive results. Within two weeks, it was not uncommon for them
to see increases in their WBC counts (white blood cell counts), platelet counts, hematocrit readings and RBC counts (red blood cells).
I should mention also that in addition to the castor oil packs most of
those I talked to are also drinking a combination of olive oil and
lemon juice to further stimulate lymphatic flow and liver activity. It
can be made by blending the following:
1 clean whole lemon, (pulp, rind, seeds and all)
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups of distilled water
4 rounded tablespoons of frozen orange juice concentrate
The blended material is then strained through a wire strainer to
remove the pulp, which is discarded. The remaining liquid is divided
in four equal portions of approximately 1/4 cup each and a portion is
consumed with each of the three daily meals and before bedtime.
In addition to stimulating lymphatic flow, the drink increases the
flow of bile from the liver and gallbladder, which, in turn, enhances
one’s ability to digest essential fatty acids through the Peyer’s
patches in the small intestine. It is not uncommon for AIDS patients
to experience weight gain and a reversal of a long list of complaints
often associated with fatty acid deficiencies.
Buying Castor Oil
Any oil that enters your body either orally or through the skin needs
to be of the highest quality. Castor oil is no different. Check your
local health food store for cold-pressed castor oil. If you can’t find
it there or they can’t order it for you, then it can be ordered
through the mail from Heritage Store, P.O. Box 444, Virginia Beach,
Virginia 23458. They can also be reached by calling 1(800)862-2923.
In his readings, Cayce attributed several actions to castor oil. Most
were in one way or another related to the body’s lymphatic system.
However, he also alluded to the idea that castor oil has a vibrational
quality that helps harmonize and promote healing within body cells.
Based on statements like these, many people labeled his psychic
readings as quackery. As we gain new knowledge about the workings of
the human body, however, these explanations don’t seem so far fetched.
Dr. Johanna Budwig has related much of the healing properties of flax
oil to its unique chemical bonds that vibrate at the same frequency as
the wavelengths of sunlight. She feels the essential fatty acids in
flax oil have the ability to absorb and store the energy from
sunlight. It’s possible that the special bonding in castor oil’s
unique ricinoleic acid works in a somewhat related method.
Regardless of exactly how it works, I think you’ll be more than
satisfied when you experience the amazing feats that can be accomplished with the simple oil of the castor bean. Centuries ago the
castor bean plant was referred to as the “Palma Christe.” It was
called this because the shape of the plant’s leaves were thought to
resemble the palm of Christ. Knowing the healing power of this plant,
the name may be one of the most accurate descriptions ever
Dr Darius H Umrigar MD(AM)