Castor BeanCastor Oil is pressed from the castor bean and has been used medicinally for centuries for its anti-inflammatory, moisturizing effect. You can use castor oil orally as a powerful laxative (not recommended) and as a way to induce labor (for use only under the supervision of a midwife or doctor), but it is incredibly effective externally for a wide array of ailments.

Castor oil, applied topically, is able to penetrate deep into the dermis due to its low molecular weight. It is often added into many beauty products, serums, and lotions to help absorb nutrients and oils deeper into the skin. On its own, castor oil is anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial and can be applied directly to any red, irritated skin. 

Topically, castor oil can be used for so many conditions. I often recommend it for any chronically dry skin, which is so common. You can mix it with coconut, argon or jojoba oil to help heal dry skin. Castor oil is also great for any skin condition that is red and irritated. For example, you can apply it directly to acne spots, eczema and psoriasis, and can even be beneficial for shingles blisters. I also recommend it to soothe sunburns, treat styes, and to get rid of warts. As a beauty product, you can apply castor oil to your eyebrows and lashes to promote hair growth, put it on the scalp to soothe dandruff, and can even use it to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. 

One of the very first treatment protocols I learned in school was the use of a castor oil ‘pack’. This involves the use of topical castor oil combined with compression, and sometimes heat. The castor oil pack can be placed on any area of the body to reduce inflammation and pain. For example, you could apply a castor oil pack to your arthritic knees, an aching back, or onto gloves for arthritis in the hands or fingers. It is a great topical treatment for any pain or swelling anywhere on the body.

Traditionally, Naturopathic Doctors employ the use of castor oil most often to decrease core inflammation and improve the regulation of the hormones, balance the  immune system, promote healthy detoxification, and modulate the nervous system. We do this by applying the castor oil pack over the abdomen, on a regular basis, typically at night for an hour or during sleep. This is because of the healing potential of the oil and is therefore effective in treating conditions of digestion like IBS, bloating and gas, and it even acts as a gentle laxative. It is so safe to use that I often recommend it for helping babies with colic. Placing the castor oil pack over the lower abdomen can be helpful for menstrual cramps, PCOS and ovarian cysts. We use castor oil packs placed over the liver to help with detoxification, over the kidneys to improve kidney function, and can be  helpful on the breasts for fibrocystic breasts. 

You can see that castor oil is definitely one oil that is always good to keep on hand at home as it can be used for so many ailments. We just got some certified organic castor oil, in a glass bottle (which is very important to maintain the purity of the oil) here at Vail Valley Pharmacy. Come grab a bottle and a pack off our shelf and start treating yourself with this very powerful medicine.