If you take a look at the ingredients label on the soap and shampoo products you use on a daily basis, you’ll probably notice castor oil as a common ingredient.


Castor oil–with its antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties–is a popular component used for a variety of purposes. From serving as a natural laxative, to making your hair shine more brightly and preventing dandruff, to detoxing the liver, to making your skin smooth and supple, castor oil is nothing short of a miracle oil.


But, let’s back up a second…what exactly is castor oil and where does it come from?


Castor oil is a vegetable oil that is derived by pressing the seed of Ricinus communis, more commonly referred to as the castor plant.


The high amount of unique fatty acid ricinoleic acid in the oil has been credited for its healing ability by decreasing inflammation and increasing circulation in the body.


Though some people take castor oil orally for pain relief and medicinal purposes, it can also be applied topically to aid in relieving anything from arthritic joint pain to menstrual cramps.


People have known this for centuries in societies all around the world–in countries such as China, Persia, Greece, and India, its native country of origin.


With its Indian background, it won’t come as a surprise that it’s been used as a topical treatment for painful joints in the realm of Ayurvedic medicine.


And, one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, the Ebers Papyrus, details how the early Egyptians used castor oil topically as far back as 1550 B.C.


It wasn’t until the 1900s that the concept of using castor oil for arthritic joints became more prevalent in Western society. Edgar Cayce, otherwise known as “The Father of Holistic Medicine,” was the first to recommend its use for these issues.


How to Use Castor Oil for Topical Pain Relief.


To aid in the relief of muscle pain, inflammation, and joint problems, there are several methods used to topically apply castor oil, such as…

  • Soak a cloth in castor oil and apply it to your affected joints or swollen body parts.
  • Massage your problematic areas with castor oil. For best results, leave the oil on your skin overnight. If you are an arthritis sufferer, repeat this process two times a week for maximum results.
  • Prepare a castor oil pack.


Castor Oil Packs


Castor oil packs are a cost-effective and simple at-home remedy.


Depending on where you apply them, they can provide relief for various ailments. For example….


  • To support the liver and digestive system, apply on the right side of the abdomen or the entire abdomen.
  • To speed the healing of minor strained joints or muscles, apply directly to the afflicted area.
  • To relieve menstrual cramps, apply on the lower abdomen.


To prepare a castor oil pack, you will need…


  • High-quality cold-pressed castor oil
  • A hot water bottle or heating pad
  • Plastic wrap
  • A large bath towel
  • 2-3 pieces of one-foot square pieces of cotton flannel




  • Fold the flannel so it is thick enough to fit over your liver and upper abdomen.
  • Soak the flannel with the oil at room temperature.
  • While laying on your back with your feet elevated, place the flannel pack onto your abdomen.
  • Place a sheet of plastic over the oiled flannel, then put a hot water bottle on top. In order to provide insulation, cover everything with the towel.
  • Apply the castor oil pack for 45 to 60 minutes.
  • In order to remove oil from the skin afterwards, wash with two tablespoons of baking soda and a quart of water, or just warm water and soap.


When finished, you can store the pack in a plastic container or ziplock bag. I recommend using the castor pack for four days straight for best results.


You may wonder how safe castor oil is to apply to your body.


Fortunately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that castor oil is “generally regarded as safe and effective” in the United States.


That said, if castor oil is used in excess, side effects can range from stomach pain to nausea to skin reactions. The recommended dosage is 0.7mg per kg of body weight per day, according to the World Health Organization.


Whether you suffer from menstrual cramps or arthritis, castor oil can be a great alternative to pharmaceutical pain relievers. I hope these methods of applying the oil topically will prove to be effective in healing your specific pain situation.


Don’t let chronic aches and pains control your life–check out this list for additional ways to soothe backaches, knee pain, or joint problem!