Are all castor oil packs created equal? No, they most definitely are not. Recently, castor oil has gotten a lot of attention and press all over social media and there is a lot of misinformation out there. It could make you think that this is a new fad.
However, castor oil packs and castor oil itself has been used for a very long time. It was made popular in the 1930's by Edgar Cayce, also known as the sleeping prophet for his use of it in so many healing remedies. I was educated at the Edgar Cayce Institute of holistic massage therapy back in 2004-2006, so I've been using this for almost 20 years now. That's why I think it's funny that it has suddenly become such a hot topic on TikTok.
The following is my personal evaluation of the various kinds of castor oil packs I have used personally and in the office.
The company Baar is the official worldwide supplier of Edgar Cayce products and they refuse to sell or make wearable castor oils packs. At first, I thought this was a negligent oversight on their times to catch up with the times but after exploring what was available on the market, I began to realize that their refusal to compromise was highly ethical and held true to the original intent and the best practice for this amazing healing oil.
Baar does sell disposable castor oil packs made of organic plant fibers with a plastic backing. They have a flannel like feel, are hygienic, non-messy and conveniently come in two sizes for various body parts. You an re-use each one up to 10 times before throwing it away. These are the ones I use in the office and also have for sale.
Right now, the most popular wearable castor oil pack is a brand called Queen of Thrones, due to their wonderful marketing. Many of my clients have purchased this brand and some of them were happy with it initially. The two biggest complaints I received from them is that the pack was too small for some, especially men, and didn't feel sturdy. After several uses, they also found that it didn't wash well or hold it's shape.
I purchased several kinds of the wearable castor oil packs, some with button closures, tie on and velcro straps. All of them had the pockets for a heating element. The first one I tried and liked the most was the one with button closures because the fabric was soft and didn't irritate my skin, unlike the thicker one with velcro straps. It worked alright most of the time, even overnight. They were definitely more secure than the other ones, even for men.
What I disliked about all the wearable ones was that after several uses, even the "waterproof" backing absorbed the oil and so the pack became heavy and greasy. I then tried washing it with a combination of baking soda, castle soap and borax. I even let it hang dry in the sun. Unfortunately it didn't wash well, the fabric was all still covered in a heavy film of oil. I'll have to try washing it with Dawn soap next time but that still doesn't fix the problem of having more of the oil accessible to the skin instead of within the pack.
The Original Castor Oil Pack
The original castor oil packs as promoted by Edgar Cayce in the 1930's were made of organic, unbleached fabric either wool, flannel or cotton. The cloth was large enough to be folded into a 3-ply rectangle large enough to cover the abdomen and be wrapped around the liver. This needed to be covered with plastic and wrapped with a towel. A hot water bottle or heating pad was then used to help it penetrate. Heating pads were discouraged because the electricity would disrupt the nervous system. During , application, you were encouraged to rest, meditate, listen to calming music, read or pray and abstain from electronics.
The entire experience was to be healing and soothing, giving the body/mind/spirit a chance to heal and fully benefit from the healing qualities of Castor Oil. This is why Edgar Cayce nicknamed it Palm Christos. The palm of Christ.
Nowadays, everyone is on the run and taking me - time is not as admired as multi-tasking, hence the wearable castor oil pack. In the name of convenience we have made the castor oil pack To-Go. Seems like a good idea when you first hear of it but let me tell you, it doesn't live up to the hype. Nothing beats the original because of it's effectiveness. Having a 3-ply cloth, holds on to more of the oil so that it is more accessible for your skin to absorb it. Wrapping it in plastic, means that the oil will stay were it needs to, against your skin, instead of all over the garment. Using the towel to protect your bedding or coach also gives you the comforting feeling of being snuggled. Taking the time to use a castor oil pack allows you to unplug and disconnect (ahem from your smart phone) so you can center yourself and breath, let your nervous system switch from Sympathetic to Para-Sympathetic, which allows your body to heal. What about hygiene and cleanliness?
Castor oil is naturally antibacterial and antifungal. That means you don't have to worry about it going rancid. The oil only travels in one direction, into your skin penetrating deeper than other oils. There is no need to worry about toxins coming out and being deposited onto your castor oil pack.
Castor oil can not draw anything out, instead it improves lymphatics and circulation by penetrating through your skin, and allowing your body to dissolve and flush it out internally. As long as your skin is clean when you apply it and you store it in the fridge until you are ready to use it again, there is no need to wash it, simply add more oil as needed.
I store mine in a large ziplock bag that is stored in the refrigerator. Some people use a glass mason jar because they're afraid of plastic leaching out somehow. Again, this only happens if exposed to heat. That can't happen in the refrigerator. It can't even happen at room temperature.