Castor oil has been around for hundreds of years and is best known for its reputation as a laxative.  Some people also swear by it to induce labor.  However, it also has many other beneficial medicinal properties that are often unknown or overlooked. 

Castor Oil as a Sleep Aid:  Rubbing a small amount of castor oil on the eyelids before going to bed is said to act as a natural sleep aid, allowing you to quickly fall asleep.  After suffering from insomnia for many years, I tried this myself and was amazed at how well it worked.  When I use it, I tend to fall asleep quickly, sleep deeply, and wake up feeling refreshed.  It does not seem to have the grogginess side effect of most over-the-counter sleep aids. 

Castor Oil to Reduce the Appearance of Wrinkles and Age Spots:  Castor oil is a thick oil but is easily absorbed into the skin.  Used at night as a moisturizer, over time, it will reduce the appearance of wrinkles and leave your skin looking much healthier, as well.  To reduce age spots, simply apply a small amount of castor oil twice a day, and within weeks you should notice that they are lighter and not as visible.

Castor Oil for Styes:  A stye is a swollen pimple in the eyelid due to an infected oil gland, and they often cause discomfort.  Several over-the-counter remedies are available at the drugstore, but castor oil can also safely be used to remedy this problem.  Simply apply a small amount of castor oil to the stye with a Q-Tip.  Within hours you should notice the pain and swelling decreasing.  Reapply as needed until stye has cleared up.

Castor Oil Packs:  By far the most common use for castor oil these days is application of a castor oil pack.  Castor oil packs are used to promote healing of tissues and organs underneath the skin.  They are commonly used to aid in reducing pain and inflammation, improving digestion and stimulating the liver.  Castor oil packs are excellent in helping to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with both arthritis and carpel tunnel syndrome.

To make a castor oil pack, you need the following ingredients:

  • Flannel or cloth piece -- three layers’ worth, to cover affected area
  • Bottle of castor oil
  • Plastic wrap -- generally two to three times the size of flannel or cloth being used
  • Hot water bottle or heating pad
  • Container with lid

To use, you will:

  • Soak your flannel or cloth pieces in castor oil in the container -- enough to saturate the cloth/flannel but not so much that it’s dripping.  Remember that castor oil is a very thick oil, so you may need the entire bottle depending on how large of an area you are trying to treat.
  • Place the saturated piece of flannel or cloth on the area to be treated.
  • Wrap the area with plastic wrap.  Go around it two or three times.  Do not wrap so tight that you cut off circulation to the area. 
  • Apply heat via a hot water bottle or heating pad for 45 to 60 minutes.  Remember to test while you are applying the castor oil pack.  Do it while reading a book or watching TV.
  • When you have left the pack on for the desired time, be sure to wash the castor oil off your skin.  Often a water and baking soda paste is recommended to remove all of the oil.
  • Place the flannel back into the container and place into the refrigerator.  Each castor oil pack can be used 25 to 30 times before it needs replaced.
  • Castor oil will stain, so be sure to change into old clothing or lay down an old sheet on furniture prior to using. 

Castor oil is available in most grocery and drug stores, and is very inexpensive, at less than $5 per bottle.  Because of its many uses as both a beauty aid and pain reliever, it is an old remedy that still has modern-day uses.