How to make a Castor Oil Pack


by Dr. Kelly Rybicki

Many of us are familiar with the grandmother references to taking castor oil for prevention and as a cure all for many health ailments. There is not much documented research on the efficacy of castor oil for health conditions.  However, there is much anecdotal evidence to support using castor oil as a innocuous and possibly helpful external application for reducing inflammation and reducing pain. Castor oil is a unique fatty acid, a monounsaturated, 18 carbon fatty acid with a high amount of ricinoleic acid.

Castor oil has been suggested to help: arthritis, chronic joint and muscle pain, improve lymphatic flow, stimulate the immune system and to relieve constipation.

Over my 20 years as a practicing chiropractor, I have recommended this innocuous treatment to try and help my patients reduce their musculoskeletal inflammation, with favorable results. It is a home remedy which is inexpensive, recyclable and generally without side effects (although one should always do a sensitivity test by applying a small amount of castor oil to the skin and monitor for allergic reactions to the oil).

1) Cold pressed, preferably organic, castor oil
2) Hot water bottle or moist heating pad
3) Plastic wrap
4) Three squares (depending on size of area you want to cover) of cotton flannel or towel
5) Old towel
6) Tupperware to keep castor oil soaked squares in

* Soak squares in castor oil until they are saturated
* Place three soaked squares on body part, cover with plastic wrap
* Put hot water bottle/heating pad on top of plastic wrap, cover with old towel
* Leave on 30-60 minutes. Depending on problem, treat daily for 3 days to 2 weeks
* Store squares in Tupperware after every use
* When oil’s color changes and/or the oil smells rancid, replace oil

For conditions such as forearm tendonitis, place squares over forearm muscles and insertions. For low back conditions, place squares over back area affected. For arthritis of the knee, wrap squares around the front, sides and back of the knee. ETC….

Massage Therapy Benefits Those with Chronic Pain

bth_massageMore than 15 percent of the population suffers from chronic pain related to the joints and musculoskeletal system.  Lack of exercise combined with obesity, occupation related physical stress, sports and hobby related injuries and other phenomena contribute to this statistic.  Many people choose massage therapy, often after suffering for a long time and not finding resolution with other treatments.

Chronic pain is a pain sensation that lingers longer than would be expected, versus acute pain from a recent injury.  Chronic pain may start acutely, from an injury for example, and then remain for a disproportionate period of time.  It can then transform into a more diffuse, longer-lasting pain condition.

Most recent research is showing that fibromyalgia pain originates in the muscles (not in the head).  The role of massage is particularly beneficial for this condition.  Those with chronic fatigue syndrome also frequently experience debilitating, body-wide pain.

Chronic pain complaints may develop either from or into an interactive process involving metabolic factors, such as food or allergies; psychological stressors; chemical or environmental impacts; or any number of sensory system irritants.  This produces an overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system – the system in “high-gear” during the fight-or-flight response.  Prolonged, excess sympathetic system activity can generate  pain in various regions of the body.  Factors that become perpetuating include insomnia, poor sleep, lack of exercise or movement, fatigue, and psychological stress and depression.

According to Rolfing and Feldenkrais practitioner Robert Schleip, “our body’s richest sensory organ is not the nose, ears, eyes, or mouth – but rather the myofascial system”.  With the largest amount of sensory information coming in to the central nervous system through the myofascial tissues, massage therapists have a great opportunity to decrease the barrage of nervous system input from pain receptors.

By addressing different areas of the body, soft-tissue therapists can change the entire sensorimotor experience for the individual.  Massage therapy is an intervention that reduces the noxious input from the myofascial tissues.  By decreasing this input and reducing the sensitivity of the neural pain receptors, massage therapy is able to break the perpetual cycle of pain.

Chronic pain may also involve trigger points.  These are areas of tissue with ischemia and lactic acid build up.  Trigger points can create local nerve fiber impairment or aggravation, leading to increased pain.  Many times, soft-tissue pain is not produced by a local tissue, but is referred from some other location.  Therapists recognize the characteristics of referred pain sensation and adapt their therapy accordingly.

Massage is beneficial in improving sleep, reducing anxiety and stress levels.  For many, finding relief through skillful soft-tissue therapy can be a life-changing experience.  Call the office and book your massage today!  802-655-0354

Chiropractic Economics, The Soft-tissue Solution, Whitney Lowe, September 21, 2011, pg. 76