Castor oil, pressed from the seed of the castor plant, has a long history of medicinal use. In addition to its internal use as a laxative, castor oil poultices and packs may alleviate joint pain. While using castor oil for pain relief is a popular practice in alternative medicine circles, scientific studies supporting the oil’s curative effects are lacking. Visit with your doctor to rule out a serious condition before using castor oil to relieve joint pain.
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Although castor oil has a long history of use, it became known as an external remedy for arthritic joints, liver ailments, intestinal disorders and other conditions through the recommendation of Edgar Cayce. In the early 1900s, Cayce, the reported “Sleeping Prophet,” frequently suggested castor oil as an external treatment while he was in a trance..
Castor oil is a fatty oil with a yellowish or greenish tinge. It is thick, and it possesses a high level of viscosity, meaning it does not spread easily. For use as massage oil, combine castor oil with a carrier oil, such as almond oil or grape seed oil, before rubbing it into affected joints. The oil contains triglycerides ricinoleic acid, and it is non-drying.
Although there is no clinical evidence that castor oil, when applied externally, heals sore joints, Accubalance Wellness Center suggests that a castor oil pack may reduce inflammation, increase circulation and relieve pain.
Massage castor oil into a sore joint or apply as a warm pack, suggests the "Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine." A castor oil pack consists of several thicknesses of flannel, soaked in warm castor oil and then placed on the affected joint. After covering the flannel with plastic wrap to protect clothing and upholstery from oil stains, apply a heating pad over the pack to warm the oil and the joint. Leave the pack on for one hour and repeat as necessary.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers should not use castor oil. In addition, do not use the oil on broken skin or if you are allergic to any part of the castor plant. A sore joint may be a symptom of an underlying disorder, so consult your doctor for advice before using castor oil to relieve joint pain. Do not attempt to extract castor oil at home from castor seeds; part of the castor seed is extremely poisonous.