“I want you to know that it is pleasure, not pain, that is your birthright.”~Christiane Northrup M.D.
I often recommend self care practices with the use of castor oil in my practice. It is also one of my main tools for softening and mobilizing scar tissue manually during a pelvic healing session.
In this post, I want to highlight how you can use it for self care and healing.
Why castor oil?
Castor oil, of the ricinus communis plant, has a long history of use in ancient healing traditions for many conditions. Only now are we beginning to discover its remarkable immunological and circulatory effects to reveal more as to why it’s so powerful for reproductive and pelvic health.
Topical application of castor oil has been shown in research to affect immune system function and increase immune cell activity. This means it’s a great tool for various immune related conditions, especially endometriosis, painful menstruation, digestive discomfort, inflammation and even liver congestion.
It can also be used to mobilize and resolve scar tissue adhesions, especially when used with friction or heat. This is in part due to its effect on immune cells and its ability to create movement within the lymphatic system. Scar tissue adhesions can be present internally without direct or overt trauma, such is the case with endometriosis. If you have a surgical birth or vaginal or perineal tearing or other trauma with scarring, it’s usually clearly visible and easier to track changes with castor oil application.
Important note: castor oil is a strong laxative (really a purgative in plant medicine terms) and I do not recommend it for internal use. I know it’s commonly used as an alternative for medical induction in birth; however, I generally don’t recommend it in those cases either and I won’t be covering this here.
Using a castor oil pack
Castor oil packs are a very common way to apply castor oil that helps the medicinal properties penetrate deeper tissues. I most commonly recommend it over the low belly for womb healing and fertility support. It can also be used over the liver or over the surface of a joint or the low back.
How does it support reproductive health?
- Promotes blood flow and detoxification of pelvic organs.
- Softens underlying adhesions or scar tissue related to ovaries, uterine tubes or uterus.
- Promotes healthy immune system function and lymphocyte activity.
- Down-regulates the sympathetic nervous system and therefore promotes relaxation, digestion and assimilation on all levels.
- Gather supplies: piece of cotton or wool flannel large enough to cover area of application when folded, high quality cold pressed castor oil (like this one), hot water bottle, old towel, glass container with lid for storing saturated flannel, plastic wrap (optional).
- Fold the flannel two or three times as needed so it will cover your low belly and saturate the flannel with castor oil. To minimize clean up, do this in the same container that you will use to store the flannel between use. Don’t use so much that it’s dripping, again for easy clean up.
- Prepare your hot water bottle and then lie down with all supplies close by as well as any drinks, books or devices you might want while you pass the time.
- Place the flannel directly on your skin, being careful to not let it come in contact with clothes. Over the flannel you can use plastic wrap or an old towel to keep it from getting on your hot water bottle.
- On top of the plastic wrap or towel, place the hot water bottle and then cover yourself to stay warm.
- Rest, meditate, read, breath, listen to a podcast, etc. for at least 30 minutes. Let that castor oil work!
- Remove the flannel and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months for reuse.
- Gently wash off castor oil stickiness from your skin.
Regardless of what symptoms you’re seeking to resolve, you’ll want to use a castor oil pack very consistently to see the best results. Three times a week is a good starting point. You may need more frequency initially if you’re addressing a long standing condition or issue. Daily application is completely safe and the application process is the same regardless of the area you’re treating.
If you’re not sure how often to use a castor oil pack or if it’s the right solution for you, reach out to me for support.
Healing scar tissue
You can begin to apply castor oil topically once your scar has closed fully and stitches have been removed or dissolved. Start slowly and intentionally as you reconnect with this tissue that has experienced some level of trauma.
Use a small amount of warm castor oil. You can warm the bottle in a small bowl of warm water before use. First, just feel what’s there while gently massaging the castor oil into the scar and surrounding skin. It’s normal if there is minor sensitivity or even numbness.
As you get more comfortable with the texture and sensation of the scar tissue, you can work more intently with mobilizing any areas that feel stuck or sensitive. Apply different strokes and amounts of pressure, moving in different directions to allow the scar tissue to shape-shift into a more organized configuration.
Go slowly and trust your hands. If at any time emotions arise, pause to allow space for that to move and then start again when you’re ready or take a break.
If any step feels overwhelming or the scar tissue is in a hard to reach area, like the perineum, reach out to me for additional support or a referral to someone in your area.
If you have intra-vaginal scar tissue from childbirth or cervical scar tissue from a colposcopy or LEEP procedure, then internal application can be useful.
To apply internally, saturate an organic tampon in castor oil and insert vaginally. Leave in for about 30 minutes or shorter the first time you use it. Be sure to insert it deeper if you are needing support for cervical scarring.
You can use 2-3 times per week as long as there are no signs of sensitivity, like itching, redness, pain or changes in vaginal or cervical fluids.
Vaginal application can help with painful sex, pelvic floor dysfunction or pain, as well as reproductive health.
- It’s important to check with your naturopath, acupuncturist or other healthcare provider to see if castor oil application is right for you.
- I don’t recommend castor oil pack use post-ovulation while trying to conceive or using assisted reproductive technology (especially while on injectable hormones).
- I also rarely recommend castor oil packs during menstruation. So don’t use during your bleeding time unless you have specific instructions from me (or another healthcare provider) to do so.
- Wait until your scar has healed and closed properly, whether with stitches or without, to apply castor oil.
- Always test a small patch of skin before applying to a large area. Wait 24 hours to ensure you don’t have a reaction. I have never had someone tell me they had a reaction but of course it’s possible.
- With vaginal application using a tampon, use once for 30 minutes and then wait a few days before reapplying to monitor sensitivity.
- Do not use during pregnancy, particularly for abdominal or vaginal applications.
- Castor oil stains clothing so be aware!