Anytime something is trending on social media I tend to roll my eyes. 

Castor oil was one of the first remedies I learned about in Naturopathic Medicine school.

It was the cure all for the gut and talked about so much!

Think… Windex from the movie “The Big Fat Greek Wedding”…

…or Frank’s Red Hot Sauce – put that shi%# on everything.

Castor oil and it’s seeds are famous for being found in Egyptian tombs…

… it must be good if it’s packed in with your other treasures when you die right?

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As a kid my grandmother was keen on handing it out to help family members poop.

It sat right next to her brandy in her medicine cabinet, we’ll talk about that remedy another day…

Why is castor oil all the rage?

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It contains ricinoleic acid that has been found to exert the following effects

  • anti-inflammatory
  • lymphatic drainage  
  • bowel moving
  • colon cleansing
  • pain decreasing
  • swelling, bloat and gas reducing

I’ve seen it do all of those things in myself and in my practice.

It’s effect on the gut are impressive.

For breast tenderness and cramps before the period it’s a game changer.

How does it work?

Castor oil’s effect appears to come from ricinoleic acid.

While research is limited to it’s internal use, there is quite a bit of positive data supporting it’s effectiveness dating back to the 1920’s.

When taken orally the fat digesting enzyme lipase breaks down castor oil into ricinoleic acid that activates specific inflammatory regulating receptors (prostanoids) in the cells of the smooth muscle.

These receptors trigger a surge of calcium to flow the smooth muscle.

Calcium is what your body uses to trigger muscle contractions while magnesium elicits relaxation. 

Increased calcium in the smooth muscle gets the bowel moving and exerts castor oil’s laxative and detox effect.

At the same time the binding of ricinoleic acid to inflammation regulating receptors triggers an anti-inflammatory effect.

It stops histamine from calling in the white blood cell troops to survey, attack or attempt to clean up from whatever has your gut, skin, uterus, thyroid, breast (wherever you put the oil) irritated.

Your body is always on alert for invaders and always trying to rid itself of toxins. 

What you eat and expose yourself to daily is what your body is working to detox and that means you have inflammation going on at all times.

The secret to inflammation being at a tolerable level and one that’s too much is how well your body does at putting out all the little pockets of inflammation on a daily basis.

Because your liver, gut and lymphatic system are your biggest detox systems it’s wise to help them out from time to time with things like castor oil to improve your ability to detox. 

To this day no study has identified what the ricinoleic acid is actually doing when applied topically. 

But I have a hunch it’s effects are similar to studies on internal castor oil use.

The skin has inflammation regulating prostanoid receptors just like smooth muscle does. 

They regulate inflammation by controlling how much histamine is triggered in a certain area.

Histamine is a neurochemical that has a lot of functions in the body with one being triggering an inflammatory reaction aka calling in increased blood flow, water, white blood cells that creates the swelling, heat and redness reaction of inflammation.

While you don’t often see the internal inflammation reactions like you would if your external skin was inflamed, the reaction is the same. 

You can see if the body is inflamed using simple blood tests to assess what’s going on.

I test the following markers of inflammation on everyone at least once a year and use these markers to monitor if interventions are making a difference.

  • Triglycerides – fatty acids produced in the liver
  • Liver enzymes – markers of liver inflammation
  • C-reactive protein – a protein released by the liver when it or the gallbladder are inflamed
  • Ferritin – a marker for iron stores but when it’s elevated it’s a marker of inflammation
  • Uric acid – a marker of systemic inflammation
  • Red and white blood cell levels

How do you know if castor oil topically is working for you?

Test before and after you apply the packs for a series of treatments.

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How do you use castor oil topically?

Apply the oil directly to your liver, abdomen, thyroid or area of pain.

Put a rag on top of the oil (note: it will stain anything it comes into contact with so use carefully).

Or you can use a pack like the Queen of Thrones castor oil packs – see them HERE

(Get 10% off orders over $59 with code: DRJANNINEKRAUSE10)

Then leave the pack for 20 minutes up to 24 hours. 

If you apply heat, which I recommend to help open the pores of the skin to get the castor oil in better, keep the heat on for 20 minutes then remove it. 

You can continue to wear the pack up to 24 hours if you like afterward.

A typical treatment series of a castor oil pack for detox would be daily x 5 days and I would pair it with Quicksilver Scientific’s Push Catch Detox program for those 5 days to get maximal effect.

For general use I’d use a castor oil pack once a week or at the least once a month to help your liver detox. 

If you get constipated from travel or stress I’d use a pack nightly till you get the bowels back on track.

For chronic constipation you may consider using castor oil up to 3 nights a week for at least 3 months and consult with a naturopathic or functional medicine practitioner to get the most out of a custom protocol.

I tend to use castor oil on most clients with gut issues and in particular those who are gassy and bloated. 

It’s easy to use, granted a little messy, but once you get the hang of it even kiddos will use it too when they see how good they feel afterwards.

You can even entice them to use the topical treatment while you tell them the stories you’ve likely heard from your parents or grandparents about castor oil internally!

The bottom line…castor oil is good stuff – quality products matter and making sure you’re getting an organic oil in glass not plastic is crucial.

My go to brand is Queen of the Thrones – they have all kinds of castor oil packs for many purposes – check them out HERE.

(Save $ with 10% off when you spend $59 – DRJANNINEKRAUSE10)

If you’re on the fence about following a social media fad – know that this one has been around for many years and was part of mainstream medicine right up till things changed with the invention of antibiotics and the concept of a magic pill for what ails you.

It’s worth a try!

Get your friends or family together and have a castor oil pack party, it’s what I used to do in ND school!

If you want to see me use it in action check my stories out on Instagram @drjanninekrause later today!

Happy castor oil packing – enjoy your weekend!

Here’s to your health,

Dr. J

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