If you’ve followed me for any length of time on Instagram, you’ve probably seen me post daily about me working on my drainage.
Off the bat, you’re probably thinking… “Steph, what the heck is drainage? Are you a pipe?”
Haha, no… but the lymphatic system is known as the body’s inner “drainage” system. It’s a network of blood vessels and lymph nodes that carry fluids from tissues around the body into the blood and vice versa.
The lymphatic system has the primary role of protecting the body against outside threats — such as infections, bacteria and cancer cells — while helping keep fluid levels in balance.
When we are sick or injured, fluid and toxins build up in the damaged area, which is why throbbing and pain occur in the lymph nodes.
When the lymphatic system becomes overly stressed, symptoms and signs can include things like:
- chronic fatigue
- swelling in lymph nodes (like throat, armpits or groin)
- muscle aches and pains
- joint pains
- sore throats and getting colds more often
- frequent infections or viruses
- fibromyalgia symptoms
- cancer formation
Any of this sound familiar?
Or… maybe you’re someone that has tried different “kill” protocols (taking herbal antibiotics, trying to detox) and you can’t seem to make it a week past your protocol because the die off is so bad.
Your body probably isn’t ready to address whatever underlying issues are going on because your lymphatic system is so stressed.
Which is huge because you will waste so much time and money if you can’t get this system working properly again.
So, if you’re ready to help your lymphatic system get moving again and to open up your detoxification pathways (your organs that naturally rid your body of toxins), a simple and affordable way you can start doing this is by doing a castor oil pack anywhere from 1-4x a week.
Castor oil is a non-volatile fatty oil that is derived from the seeds of the castor bean plant.
*A quick PubMed search for ‘castor oil’ will show you this is often used to induce labor… so make sure NOT to do this if you are pregnant!
Castor oil has also been used to:
- Relieve constipation (I always have to go after one!)
- Reduce inflammation
- Reduce swelling in the body
- Improve lymphatic drainage + blood flow
…Which is why we’re doing this! 😊
A small, double-blind study published in the Journal of Naturopathic Medicine found that adults who used abdominal castor oil packs on their abdomens had significant increases in the production of lymphocytes compared with patients using placebo packs. (Lymphocytes are the immune system’s natural “disease-fighters” that attack outside invaders such as toxins, bacteria and other perceived threats.)
Ready to get started?
How to do a castor oil pack
Castor oil packs are one of my FAVORITE ways to relieve constipation and die off symptoms you may be experiencing from drainage or detox work.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Castor oil (I prefer HomeHealth or Heritage Store)
- A wool flannel
- A heat source (I just use a heating pad)
- 1-2 towels (it gets MESSY)
I’d recommend ordering this castor oil kit which has the oil, flannel, AND cleansing wipes (because it is SO sticky and hard to wipe off afterwards).
Also, for the heating pad, you can just use your basic one from CVS/Walgreens, but if you’re sensitive to EMFs, this is heating pad has been tested to have ZERO EMFs. (It’s on my healthy swaps wishlist.)
There’s not one “right” way to do a castor oil pack, but here’s how I easily integrate castor oil packs into my routine and actually keep up with doing these 3-4x a week.
- Pick a cozy spot to lie down at. You’re probably going to want to lie a large towel down the first few times you do this because castor oil is REALLY sticky and you don’t want to make a mess all over your couch or bed.
- Lie down and you can either pour the castor oil directly on your liver (just under your right breast) or really throughout your whole stomach and rub it around so it doesn’t run off you onto the towel.
- Quickly place the wool flannel on once you spread the castor oil around on the area you’re targeting.
- Place a towel over the wool flannel (to trap in the heat). You can also wipe castor oil residue off your fingers with this towel.
- Place your heating pad over your towel.
- Lay down for 45 min to 1 hour. I like to use this time to read a book, watch a funny show, do my bible study, or listen to a podcast.
- Take everything off + wipe down your stomach with some non-toxic soap, body wash, or the cleansing wipes if you get the kit.
What to Expect + FAQ
I know I’m a fairly sensitive person when it comes to trying out new supplements or protocols. I like to know what to expect so I don’t panic if I experience something abnormal. Here are some things to note about castor oil packs.
- It’s pretty normal for your tummy to gurgle while it’s happening. It means things are moving! I usually have to go to the bathroom every time I do this. It’s a lifesaver for constipation.
- I’ve heard people say they feel dehydrated when doing a castor oil pack. I’ve never experienced that – but to be safe, it doesn’t hurt to keep a glass of water by you while you do this!
- I use this method externally only (and wouldn’t recommend using castor oil internally unless your doctor specifically tells you to).
- Reminder: don’t do this when pregnant. I also avoid doing this on my period because it can make your periods even heavier.