Castor oil is known as an effective hair and skin treatment, but it can also be used for a wide range of medicinal purposes. I first incorporated castor oil into my acupuncture practice when I was confronted with a young adult patient who was writhing in pain from kidney stones. I took a piece of flannel and folded it over several times, and then I saturated its center with enough oil to cover her belly from the diaphragm down to the top of her thighs. Directing the beam of the infrared lamp to her abdomen, I then proceeded with the acupuncture, choosing points to help her with pain while moving Qi and blood.
Determining that the castor oil pack treatment would be most effective in softening the kidney stone if allowed to sit in place for at least an hour, I left my patient to rest and lie there with the heat on her belly. It worked amazingly well. Her doctor surmised that the stone might have moved back up into her kidney, but an ultrasound later revealed that the stone was no longer there. I’ve since used this treatment several times for kidney stone pain, with the same results.
I will sometimes incorporate castor oil packs into treatment if the immune or lymphatic systems are compromised, or if the liver and gallbladder are deficient or distressed. Castor oil was known throughout much of the ancient world, including India, China, Egypt, and Greece, as a therapeutic poultice. Edgar Cayce, who recommended the packs for a number of ailments, popularized the treatment once again in the 20th century.