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Why Bother with Castor Oil Packs?

My naturopath recommended using castor oil packs for liver detoxification and for uterine fibroids. Are they worthwhile?

Answer (Published 1/22/2003)

Castor oil packs are a home remedy popularized by psychic healer Edgar Cayce who died in 1945. They are made by saturating a flannel cloth with castor oil and placing it on your body over the lower abdomen. You cover the pack with plastic, put a heating pad or hot water bottle on top and then you lie down for an hour.

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During his lifetime, Cayce made pronouncements on thousands of subjects including health. He saw castor oil packs as remedies for inflammation, congestion, constipation, liver, kidney, and pelvic disorders, including uterine fibroids. While many people swear by them, I know of no scientific studies demonstrating that they have the detoxifying effect that Cayce claimed.

Instead of castor oil packs, I suggest you try these approaches to managing your fibroids:

  • Avoid estrogenic foods including commercially raised beef and dairy products (you don’t need to avoid beef and dairy products to manage fibroids if you’re sure they’ve been raised or produced without hormones).
  • Increase aerobic exercise.
  • Take 400 IU of vitamin E twice a day.
  • Use visualization exercises to focus on decreasing the size of the fibroid.

For symptoms severe enough to warrant surgery, you can choose an alternative to hysterectomy. Fibroids can be removed via a myomectomy, an operation that can preserve your uterus and fertility. You don’t mention the liver problem for which you are considering castor oil packs. For liver disorders, I recommend taking extracts of the seeds of milk thistle (Silybum marianum), a non-toxic herbal remedy. European research shows that it stimulates regeneration of liver cells and protects them from toxic injury. In addition, I suggest decreasing protein to 10 percent or less of daily caloric intake; limiting dietary fat to 25 percent of daily caloric intake; eating lots of starches, vegetables, and fruits; avoiding alcohol and tobacco and other substances toxic to the liver, such as volatile solvents. Drink plenty of water and take steam baths or saunas regularly.

Castor oil packs can’t hurt you, but I’ve seen no evidence yet that demonstrates that they can help you any more than a regular hot pack.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Dosage Update, October, 2004
In order to provide the most up-to-date health information, I review my recommendations on a regular basis. As the fields of nutrition and health advance, my recommendations will change to reflect the best science and new findings. My recommendations for daily vitamin E are to take 400-800 IU of natural mixed tocopherols, or at least 80 mg of natural mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols.

Visit www.are-cayce.com for more information on Edgar Cayce.

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