What's a Castor Oil Pack and Why Is It Good For You?

Ever since my naturopath introduced me to the wonderful world of castor oil packs, I've been hooked. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Ayurvedic medicine, and naturopathy recommend castor oil packs for the ability to promote healing and reduce inflammation. My naturopath also touts the benefits of these packs because they are said to help improve elimination and circulation, especially of the lymphatic system by stimulating lymph and liver function. I've found them especially helpful during my time of the month to reduce the pain from cramps.

Easy to make, all you need are several layers of flannel and cold-pressed castor oil (a natural oil made from the seeds of the castor oil plant), both of which can be purchased online or from a local health food store. When placed on the affected area, the pack acts as a poultice to draw out impurities and promote healing. Since there are only a few small studies detailing the benefits of castor oil packs, we recommend that you meet with a TCM, Ayurvedic, or naturopath specialist to make sure it's the best solution for you.

How to Make a Castor Oil Pack


  • Soft, clean, thick material like organic flannel, wool, or cotton
  • Castor oil
  • Glass bowl
  • Hot water bottle or heating pad
  • Old clothes that you don't mind getting stained
  • Plastic bag
  • Large towel


  1. Put on your older clothes.
  2. Take your piece of flannel and place it in the bowl. Then pour enough castor oil over it to saturate.
  3. Get your hot water bottle or heating pad ready.
  4. Place your towel on a flat surface like a couch, your bed, or the floor. For added protection you can also put down a garbage bag so that your bed or couch won't get stained from any oil that manages to escape the plastic cover.
  5. Once you lie down, place your saturated flannel over the affected area of your body.
  6. Cover the pack with plastic.
  7. Place the heating pad or hot water bottle over the pack and let it sit for at least 45 to 60 minutes. During this time, you can rest or read a book.
  8. When the time is up, remove the pack and clean the area with water and a bit of baking soda.
  9. You can keep the pack in a plastic bag in a cool place or the refrigerator. I keep mine in a sealed glass jar in one of my kitchen cabinets. Just add another tablespoon of castor oil for the next session.

And if you're a visual leaner, here's a video describing how to make a castor oil pack.

click to play video