By Dr. Sharon Stills, NMD
Do you wake up in the middle of the night and have a hard time getting back to sleep? In traditional Chinese medicine, waking between the hours of 1 – 3 AM is associated with the time of the liver, which is highly active. By waking and not being able to fall back to sleep, it may be the sign that the liver needs a cleanse.
There’s a lot you do to give your liver some love and help it with detoxifying. One of my favorite tools for doing this is to make and use a castor oil pack.
Using a castor oil pack placed on the skin over the liver is a time honored tradition. Many schools of traditional medicine have used castor to help support optimized liver function, to improve detoxification and hormonal balance and to reduce inflammation in the liver. Castor oil is prized for its ricinoleic acid, a compound in castor beans believed to help the body rid itself of excess toxins. Modern research backs up this claim.
Do you want to try out a pack of castor oil? There are some easy directions to get you started with this relaxing practice.
- Make sure the label says “hexane free” when you buy it from the health food store.
- There is a large piece of unbleached natural wool or cotton flannel.
- There are old bed sheets and towels.
- Plastic grocery bag
- There is a heating pad or hot water bottle.
- A quart-sized glass jar.
How to use a pack of oils.
- You can make three layers by folding your large piece of flannel into thirds.
- Add a small amount of castor oil to the large mason jar and it will take a while for the oil to show up. Continue to add a small amount of oil until the cloth has been thoroughly soaked.
- If you notice the stain on your surroundings, use old sheets or towels to cover any surfaces.
- Plug in a heating pad or fill a hot water bottle.
- Remove flannel from jar with tongs and place over the liver.
- Place a towel on top of the flannel. To prevent oil from staining or clinging to the heating pad, place a plastic bag over the towel and place the heating pad on the bag.
- Relax for at least 60 minutes. You can meditate, practice deep breathing, pray, listen to a show, or just close your eyes and let your mind wander.
- After the desired time, remove the pack and return the flannel to the glass container. The fridge is a good place to store things.
- You can use a natural soap to remove the oil from the skin.
- You should drink some water or tea to stay hydrated after you do this.
I often recommend that patients do a castor oil pack 1-2 times/week (or more!) to help support their liver if they’re dealing with hormonal imbalance and/or detoxification issues or fatty liver. It can also be helpful when you are having severe PMS. (Shift the pack to your lower abdomen.)
Do you sleep better through the night if you keep up your castor oil pack habit?
October 1, 2021 was the last updated.