By Dr. Amy Duong (bio below)
Today, I want to explain the benefits and use of castor oil packs as an eczema treatment. First, let’s talk a little bit about what makes it so special. Castor oil is made from the plant Ricinus communis (castor beans) and has been used historically for many reasons – most commonly internally as a laxative and externally as an anti-inflammatory painkiller. The active component in castor oil is considered to be ricinoleic acid and has been proven to reduce inflammation and exhibit analgesic (pain-relieving) effects in studies like this one.
As a naturopathic doctor specializing in skin conditions, such as eczema, there are a couple of organs in the body that are key players that I focus my attention towards, which I have outlined below:
- Digestive tract: making sure that food allergies, yeast overgrowth, and beneficial bacteria are sufficient for proper assimilation and elimination of food.
- Lymphatic system: making sure the lymphatic system has proper circulation for a healthy immune system and removing the cellular waste in your body. Check out my previous post about ways to move the lymphatic system: 4 Tips to Drain the Lymphatic System and Take Out the Body’s Trash.
- Liver: proper detoxification of the liver is very important to clean the bloodstream and address environmental toxins such as drugs, hormones, food additives, and other allergens.
With the use of castor oil topically, I can address all of these organs and systemically help to reduce inflammation, encourage proper digestion (especially for patients having constipation), support the detoxification of the liver, and move the lymphatic system. This, in turn, improves the outcome of any recommendations I have for patients for treating eczema symptoms and promoting clear, beautiful skin.
As with many things, it’s important to be diligent and regular with the use of castor oil packs to experience its benefits. I recommend patients use them consecutively for 3 days in a row and then take a break for compliance, though regular use every day would be a great practice as well.
In addition to the benefits of castor oil for the body’s organs, perhaps equally important is the relaxation that one experiences from lying down and applying castor oil packs. In the region of our abdomen where the castor oil is applied are nerves, our immune system, and the lymph system. Thus, the castor oil packs with the added heat I recommend offer a calming effect, which allows the body to rest, de-stress, and focus on healing, which can also help to treat eczema or other issues.
How to Make Castor Oil Packs
1. Flannel or wool cloth, such as this one.
2. External healing source – such as a heating pad or hot water bottle.
3. Castor oil from a good source, like this one.
4. Old clothes or a small towel that you don’t care to spoil from the castor oil because the oil will stain clothing and bedding.
- Fold the flannel or wool cloth into 2 layers to cover the recommended body area – I recommend the entire abdomen from the sternum to the above the hip bones.
- Soak the flannel or wool cloth pack in castor oil, which can be done in a glass container, and place the pack over the skin of the area of the body to be treated. Or, you can apply the castor oil directly onto the skin and place the flannel/wool pack over the oiled-up skin.
- Place the sheet of plastic, towel, or old clothes over the pack to prevent castor oil from ruining your other clothes.
- Place the heat from the heating pad or hot water bottle on top to allow the skin to absorb the castor oil. Please remember not to fall asleep with the heating pad on.
- Treatment should continue for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- To complete treatment, remove the castor oil pack and cleanse your skin with a solution of baking soda and water (1 teaspoon baking soda to 1 pint of water) or just a gentle eczema soap.
- The pack can be stored in the refrigerator in a glass container. It can be reused 20-25 times, after which it should be washed or dry-cleaned.
Caution: Do not use packs of castor oil for eczema during pregnancy, over areas of active bleeding (wounds, ulcers, menses), or on patients with bleeding disorders.
How to Combine Castor Oil with Other Oils
It may happen that you already use another kind of oil, and a question appears – is it all right to use castor oil along with it? Actually, it is even recommended in some cases, but usually for other parts of the body and without the wool pack method. Here are some of the most beneficial combinations of castor oil and different oils:
Castor Oil and Coconut Oil
Coconut and castor oils can have great effects when used together – they are especially effective for dry hair and scalp. It is because they are both rich in fatty acids, which can boost hair growth while soothing the scalp. They help to treat the dry skin on your head and moisturize it properly so that you can lose less hair.
Castor Oil and Avocado Oil
Another idea for using castor oil for eczema is to combine it with the addition of avocado oil. By applying such a mixture on dry spots, rather than as a traditional castor oil pack, you can relieve the irritating itch. What’s more, this combination can also do wonders for your hair, similar to the one with coconut oil (you can even try mixing all three of them!).
Castor Oil and Tea Tree Oil
This is another way to use castor beyond the normal packs. Mixing tea tree and castor oils can boost hair growth when applied to the scalp. Apart from that, this combination can help with various skin problems such as acne and ease inflammation, sunburn, or skin discoloration.
The Bottom Line
I hope you will try out packs with castor oil – for eczema symptoms, skin irritation, and more. It has been a great addition to my protocols for reducing pain, having anti-inflammatory effects, and easing digestive concerns, as well as promoting a healthy body for healthy skin, thanks to ricinoleic acid and other important ingredients.
Bio: Dr. Amy Duong completed her Naturopathic Doctorate at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona, where she also trained in Acupuncture. She offers general naturopathic care with a special focus on skin, disorders, including eczema, acne and psoriasis, as well as anxiety, depression, and digestive concerns. Currently, Dr. Duong is based in Connecticut, where she sees many lovely patients of all ages with common skin conditions and other medical concerns in her naturopathic medical practice.
Please visit Dr. Amy Duong’s website for more information and to work with her through phone or Skype consultations. Dr. Amy’s patients come from around the world, and it’s her passion to help everyone on their path to clear skin. Stay in touch through Instagram or check out her informative YouTube videos.
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