Recently, I received an inquiry about the role of castor oil for psoriasis healing. Two of the most common uses of castor oil are to induce labor in pregnant women and to treat chronic constipation. But, the thought of using castor oil to relieve psoriasis symptoms is quite intriguing. Isn’t it?
After doing a fair bit of research over the Internet and reading a few of the books, I can confine the scope of using castor oil for psoriasis in three below mentioned categories:
- External application of castor oil on psoriasis lesions
- Use of warm Castor oil packs to heal gut related issues
- Ingestion of castor oil for body detox and to treat constipation (strictly by doctor’s recommendations)
In this post, we would discuss each of these applications in a fairly detailed manner.
Let us know Castor oil
Castor oil is a vegetable oil, extracted by the cold pressing of the seeds of castor bean plant. It is colorless to pale yellow in appearance. A thick oil which is almost tasteless and odorless. Due to high viscosity and bland taste, oral consumption of castor oil can prove a nightmare for you.
Naturopathy health experts prescribe castor oil to treat various skin and digestive tract related disorders. According to Ayurveda, castor oil has the ability to provide heat to the body. It helps in reducing the congestion of accumulated body toxins and lymph to promote body detox. In short, it has a purging action on the body and it is widely used in various Ayurveda medicines for better digestion and gut health. Panchkarma, an Ayurvedic body detox method also involves the oral consumption of castor oil to stimulate bowel movements.
As we can see, castor oil contains a variety of fatty acids. Ricinoleic acid, the chief component of castor oil is a unsaturated omega 9 fatty acid. It is responsible for almost all the medicinal benefits of castor oil. Ricinoleic acid contains potent antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
I couldn’t locate any specific research study regarding the benefits of Castor oil for psoriasis, but, an animal study performed by the Italian researchers acknowledges the safe and effective anti-inflammatory properties of topical application of castor oil. In that study, castor oil was compared with capsaicin. Capsaicin is an active component of chili peppers; it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Capsaicin based creams are used to provide relief from various inflammatory conditions. To get the same anti-inflammatory effect, amount of ricinoleic acid required was 10 folds as of capsaicin. But, the good news was- ricinoleic acid was not carrying any pungent and painful effect as illustrated by capsaicin.
Castor Oil for Psoriasis- External Application
Castor oil is a natural emollient- moisturize, soften and soothe your skin and scalp. Around 90% of castor oil is ricinoleic acid which has potent antimicrobial and antifungal properties. When used topically, castor oil can inhibit the growth of viruses, bacteria and fungi on the skin. Use of castor oil for skin care products is not a new thing. In 2002, castor oil and its derivatives were used in around 1000 cosmetic grade products.
There is a whole bunch of information available on the internet claiming that castor oil can stimulate hair growth and thickness by boosting the blood circulation to hair follicles. Some people even recommend it to increase the hair density of eyelashes and eyebrows. Although, there are no scientific evidences to confirm these claims, but, considering its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, there is no harm in giving it a shot.
Castor oil is a highly viscous vegetable oil and it takes at least a few hours for your skin to absorb it. Hence, the best time to apply castor oil on your skin (or scalp) is at night, before going to bed.
You can apply castor oil in pure form or in combination with other healing oils.
- Pure castor oil– Being too viscous, concentrated castor oil is generally not used to massage a larger body area because it would be too messy and it would need a lot of efforts to remove it afterwards. Pure castor oil is best applied on thick, circumscribed psoriasis patches. Before applying the oil, wash the area clean with water to increase the effectiveness. Then, rub a small amount of castor oil deep into the lesions and leave it for overnight. Less is more- due to high viscosity of castor oil, only a small amount would be sufficient. Excess of castor oil would make it messy and it may leave your clothes heavily stained. You may plastic wrap the affected area after massaging so that it doesn’t stain your clothes or bedding. Wash off the oil in the morning using lukewarm water. Daily application for a couple of weeks can bring significant reduction in the thickness of the lesions.
- Castor oil and Baking soda paste– This is a folk remedy for wart and mole removal- castor oil mixed with baking soda. You can use it for psoriasis lesions also. Mix a pinch of baking soda with a few drops of pure castor oil and apply it on thick, small and circumscribed patches. Within a few weeks of daily application, you may witness impressive results. Most of the people get results by the end of 4th week. Don’t use this paste on cracked skin patches.
- Castor oil mixed with olive oil– Dr Pagano in his book “Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative” has recommended olive oil mixed with peanut oil or castor oil in equal proportions as an effective topical application for psoriasis lesions. This combination would be less viscous (than pure castor oil) and hence, it can be applied on larger body areas easily. You can use it for scalp psoriasis also. Gently massage a good amount of oil deep into your scalp, then wear a shower cap and wrap a towel around the pillow so that the oil doesn’t stain your pillow cover or bed sheet. You may use a big plastic bag instead of a towel to cover the pillow. Wash off the oil in the morning using a natural shampoo. The frequency of this treatment would vary according to the severity- every day, twice a week or just once a week. You may use a few drops of any essential oil (such as lavender) to this oil mixture.
- Castor oil mixed with virgin coconut oil– Just like olive oil, virgin coconut oil can be mixed with castor oil in equal proportion for body and scalp psoriasis. Some people may find a 50/50 mixed oil combination too viscous. In that case, you can increase the share of coconut oil to reduce the oil thickness.
- Blend of Castor oil, wheat germ oil with sunflower oil– Take one teaspoon each of castor oil and wheat germ oil and add it to one cup of sunflower oil. Use this oil amalgam as a lotion on affected body parts. Numerous websites on the Internet has promoted this oil mixture as an effective topical treatment for psoriasis lesions.
Use of Castor Oil Packs
Dr John Pagano is a very familiar name for most of the psoriatic people looking for a natural solution of their skin ailment. But, very few people would be knowing that most of the recommendations of Dr Pagano’s natural treatment are inspired by the teachings of Edgar Cayce, also known as the father of holistic healing.
Both of these gentlemen termed psoriasis a gut related disorder- caused due to leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome refers to the thinning of the walls of the small intestine so that the undigested food, disease causing microbes and other unwanted stuff seep through into the body fluid triggering an autoimmune response.
A restricted psoriasis diet, positive lifestyle, use of dietary supplements and herbs and stress management- all these factors help to manage this lifelong skin condition.
Liver is the chief filtering organ of the human body, responsible for the elimination of toxins from the body. A weakened liver is always associated with psoriasis. In his book, Dr Pagano has marked the benefits of warm castor oil pack to improve the liver functioning. But, the detailed benefits of castor oil pack were explained by Edgar Cayce. He mentioned the use of castor oil packs for more than 500 times in all his readings to heal various ailments.
Few of the ailments where castor oil packs can be beneficial are:
- Digestive tract related problems (constipation, indigestion, bowel inflammation, stomach ulcer and hyperacidity)
- Liver conditions such as cirrhosis and torpid liver
- Skin problems such as acne and psoriasis
- Cold and Flu
- Gallbladder problems
- Chronic headache
- Pain, inflammation and fatigue
Regular use of Castor oil packs helps in stimulating the liver and lymphatic system. We all know the importance of our liver. Let us know the lymphatic system a little. The lymphatic system is a drainage network which helps to remove body toxins, unhealthy microbes and excess fluid from your body system. Lymph, a clear to white fluid, is the main carrier of the lymphatic system. Not only it removes toxins, but, it absorbs fats and fat soluble vitamins from the food and transport them to various body cells. In short, a smooth functioning lymphatic system is vital for a healthy immune system.
By improving the functioning of liver and lymphatic system, castor oil packs ensure smooth elimination of toxins from the body. It implies a healthy digestive tract (including liver) and reduced inflammation in the body. Overall, it would regulate the immune system and reverse the autoimmune response.
In his book “The Oil That Heals”, Dr William McGarey has reported that use of castor oil packs significantly increased the flow of lymph throughout the body in comparison to placebo packs.
Materials needed for Castor Oil Packs
- Cold pressed, organic castor oil
- Wool or cotton flannel- you can buy wool/ cotton flannel pieces specially designed for castor oil packs from Amazon. Otherwise, just use a piece of old cloth (100% cotton or wool) that you have- for example- any old shirt, pillow case or bed sheet. It would serve the purpose. Make sure that it is not synthetic- should be either 100% cotton or wool.
- Hot water bottle or heating pad
- Old towels, plastic wrap and garbage bags- all these stuffs are needed to avoid oil staining on clothes and bedding
- A glass jar
- A large pan
How to apply Castor oil packs
- Warm the castor oil– First of all, put around 3-4 ounces of castor oil in the glass jar. Now, boil water in a large pan and put this glass jar in the pan so that the castor oil inside can get heated. When the castor oil gets warm, remove the jar from pan. The oil should be warm (comfortable to touch), not too hot.
- Prepare the flannel– Fold the flannel to make three layers of it. After folding, it should be big enough to cover the entire affected area.
- Saturate the flannel with castor oil– Now, drain out the water from the pan and spread the folded woolen flannel in it. Then, pour the warm castor oil on the flannel thoroughly covering all the areas. Let the flannel soak the oil. Make sure that the flannel is thoroughly saturated with castor oil, but not dripping. You may squeeze the flannel to remove excess of oil, if required.
- Prepare the bedding for laying down– Spread the garbage bag on your bed and place an old towel over it. Now, lay down on the towel and expose your abdomen.
- Applying the castor oil pack– Put the flannel (saturated with oil) directly over the liver (right side of the abdomen). Cover the flannel with plastic wrap. Then, put the hot water bottle/ heating pad over it. Finally, put another old towel over all this to keep it warm and intact. Just relax for around an hour and let the castor oil pack do its work. You can relax, meditate or listen to your favorite music during this time. The warmth of this whole isolated system should not be painful. It should be tolerable so that you don’t get your skin burned.
- Washing off after the application– After removing the castor oil pack, wash your skin with warm water. You may add a small amount of baking soda or soap in the water for better cleaning.
- You can use this oil soaked flannel for multiple times. So, don’t hurry to throw it away. Just put it back into the glass jar and store it in a cool place- say your refrigerator. You can use this single piece of flannel for up to 50 to 60 times. Replace the flannel when it begins to change its color or looks too spoiled.
- For reuse, just pour a little more of castor oil- say 1 to 2 ounces of castor oil on this flannel and heat it in the pan (as explained earlier). Rest of the process is same.
- The old towels that you are using for castor oil packs- either don’t wash them or wash them separately to avoid any staining of other clothes.
I understand that a practical demo video would help you understand the procedure in a better way. This YouTube video gives a wonderful demonstration as per Edgar Cayce’s guidelines.
Where to put castor oil pack
As explained earlier, put it directly over the liver- right side of the abdomen. It would stimulate liver and heal internal digestive tract related issues. The top corner of the flannel should coincide with the end of the breastbone and bottom corner should fall around four inches below the naval.
The flannel should be large enough to cover the liver area and upper abdomen when folded into three layers.
Frequency of Castor oil packs
According to Edgar Cayce, you should apply castor oil packs continuously for three days and then take a break for next four days. Then, again apply castor oil packs for the next three days and take a break for another next four days. Keep on repeating this weekly cycle until you feel better.
During the days when you apply castor oil packs, consume one tablespoon (around 15 ml) of extra virgin olive oil to promote body detox. Interestingly, Dr Pagano also recommends consuming extra virgin olive oil to heal psoriasis.
The best way to consume extra virgin olive oil is by using it as a salad dressing or drizzling it over food stuffs such as fish, bread and pasta.
Internal consumption of Castor oil
Internal consumption of castor oil is a bit controversial issue. Some people recommend it and some don’t. Let us try to figure out a sensible answer to this question.
According to the 2007 edition of Guinness book of world records, castor bean plant is the most poisonous plant of the world. The castor beans contain ricin, a poisonous substance. If the castor beans are swollen or chewed, ricin enters inside the body cells and prevent them from synthesizing the necessary proteins that is required for survival. In the absence of necessary proteins, the body cells would eventually die which can prove fatal to human life.
Luckily, castor oil doesn’t contain ricin. Ricin remains in the leftover mash after the extraction of oil from the castor beans. According to a report published in The International Journal of Toxicology, May 2007 edition- castor oil is safe for internal consumption. The joint expert committee of the World health organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has established an acceptable daily castor oil intake of up to 0.7 mg per kg of body weight.
The United States FDA has also approved castor oil as a laxative for internal consumption. It is digested in the form of ricinoleic acid and causes contractions in the small intestine to stimulate bowel movements. Generally, a teaspoon of castor oil taken with warm water at night ensures trouble free bowel movement the next morning.
Are there any case studies to prove the safety of oral intake of castor oil?
In a clinical study conducted by the doctors at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi- efficacy of oral consumption of castor oil was compared with diclofenac sodium (a conventional non-steroidal antiinflammatory drug). A total 100 patients dealing with knee osteoarthritis were divided into two groups. The first group was administered a total daily dose of 2.7 ml of castor oil (divided into three equal installments). Second group was given a total of 150 mg of diclofecan sodium (three equal installments of 50 mg each). After 4 weeks, anti-inflammatory effect of castor oil was found at par with diclofenac sodium. More importantly, no side effects were observed in case of castor oil.
All said and done- castor oil oral consumption is not going to take your life. But, it doesn’t mean that we should consume it liberally. The ricinoleic acid, the main constituent of castor oil is a digestive tract irritant. Not only it stimulates bowel movements, it irritate the intestinal linings also. Ingestion of castor oil may cause mild side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Hence, castor oil is a short term remedy for constipation and its oral consumption should always be driven by the prescription of a registered health expert. Self trials are not recommended at all.
- External Application
Generally, castor oil is quite safe for external application. Still, to be on safer side, do a patch test before applying it on bigger skin area. Simply put a drop of castor oil on any non-sensitive area- say your forearm and leave it for a few hours. If it doesn’t cause any swelling, itching or redness- then castor oil is safe for you.
External application of castor oil should be avoided on cracked skin areas.
- Castor Oil Packs
Use of castor oil packs during pregnancy, breastfeeding or menstruation should be avoided.
- Oral Consumption
Already discussed, oral consumption is a bit tricky and it should be considered strictly under the supervision of a doctor.
From where to buy
- Pure Castor Oil
Always opt for cold pressed, unrefined, organic castor oil which is free from hexane. Low quality castor oil, extracted by using chemical solvents, would be highly refined and may contain hexane- a byproduct of gasoline industry.
One more thing- if you have made up your mind to try castor oil packs, then it would be better to buy the bigger supply of Castor oil – for example 16 ounce (around 470 ml) bottle (or even more) because you would need a good amount of castor oil for a single application of castor oil packs. Buying a bigger supply would prove economical also.
You can buy pure castor oil from a chemist shop near to you. Otherwise opt for online shopping.
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- Wool/ Cotton Flannel
As already discussed, you can use any old piece of shirt, light weight blanket, pillow case or bed sheet as a flannel for castor oil pack application. But, if you have decided to replicate the Edgar Cayce’s castor oil process exactly the same without even a small deviation- then you can buy the specially designed piece of flannel from Amazon.
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