Castor Oil Packs
One of my favourite ways to wind down of a pm is to treat my tum to a castor oil pack.
What's a castor oil pack, you ask? Put simply; it's hexane free/organic caster oil applied externally onto the body (for me, almost always, my abdomen) with a towel and a heat pack/hot water bottle laying gently on top. After talking through it's health benefits and my experiences implementing this little ritual, I'll link you to all you need to carry it out on your own below..
I have been through some pretty wavy times with my endocrine system (nasty endometriosis/PCOS/hormone imbalances - as well as scares with my lymphatic system) and this application has helped me immensely.
Since using castor oil packs, not only has my pain relating to the conditions above sincerely decreased, but my skin has cleared up, my digestion improved and my eyes are far less puffy when I wake up of a morning. It is widely known to be an incredibly healing treatment that has wonderful detoxifying and inflammation reducing capabilities.
When used correctly, castor oil packs are said to support the liver by increasing it's capability to detoxify. Castor oil's lipid structure goes easily through the skin, stimulating a healthy flow of lymph fluid. It can also have anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing effects. (Source) Sometimes when I'm lying down of an evening time with my castor oil pack on my belly listening to a meditation; I can feel my digestive system activating/rumbling.
Additionally, they are known to support uterine and ovarian health as well as improve lymphatic circulation and reduce inflammation.
“Lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease. This is where castor oil comes in. When castor oil is absorbed through your skin, your lymphocyte count increases. Increased lymphocytes speed up the removal of toxins from your tissues, which promotes healing.” (Source)
Who doesn't want or need a hand with the removal of toxicity from their body? That being said.. I am not a medical professional; and what works for my body will most certainly differ from human to human (especially if you are a woman that is pregnant/trying to conceive) - so always use your own inner knowing or consult a medical/natural medicinal professional before trying anything new if you are remotely uncertain.
What you'll need to treat yourself to a castor oil pack:
Make sure you are well hydrated - hydration plays a major role in the detoxification process.
Choose a space where you are able to lay down comfortably. To avoid any oil dripping onto the surface, cover the space with an old towel. I lay on a towel on top of my bed, to be extra comfy. Remember; you'll want to be here for a while.
Find a piece of flannel/towel that is large enough to cover your abdomen. Cover your abdomen in castor oil. Enough so you can see a thick layer of it sitting on top of your skin. Another way of applying a castor oil pack is to soak the fabric in the castor oil and then apply said soaked towel to your tummy, but I personally find process this too messy & far more expensive because you need a lot more castor oil..
Lie down on your back on the surface protected by the old towel and cover your abdomen with the flannel. It is most important to make sure your right side (where the liver is) is completely covered from just above your groin to your sternum.
You can put a large pillow under your knees/feet in order to take stress off of your lower back and to focus the blood flow into your tummy. You could also lie on the floor and put your legs up on the couch. Just make sure you're comfy.. Place a hot water bottle or heating pad on top of the flannel/towel laying it gently on your tum.
Relax for 45-60 minutes (up to 2 hours, but it's not recommended to go longer) while the castor oil pack does its work and use this period of time to read a book, meditate, visualize, and/or spend time doing deep breathing. I do this process right before bed as I find it's the perfect wind down..
When finished, remove the pack and all the oil you placed on your tummy should, by now now, all be absorbed. If there is any excess just wipe it away using your towel. I use the same caster-oil-towel for up to a week before popping it in the wash.
Using the packs for just a few days can be enough to provide relief from certain symptoms, but the best results come with continual practice. Aim for a castor oil pack 3-4 times per week for one month and see how you feel. Definitely let me know if you do have any questions or if you start to feel positive changes upon incorporating this gentle routine!