This article is Part 2 of a series on Spring Detox Protocols for Liver and Thyroid function.
In Part 1, we discussed why spring is traditionally held as the best season to support the liver with a gentle detox protocol, how to eliminate toxins that tax the liver and which foods support liver function.
In Part 2, we will discuss detox support protocols that go beyond the diet. Castor oil packs can help to improve the function of the liver and the release of toxins. They have the added benefit of promoting rest and relaxation because they force you to slow down and focus on self-care. Let's dive in!
Castor Oil Packs
One of the hallmark signs of hormone imbalance is, ahem, moodiness. Call it PMS, or something else, it's a well established fact that when your hormones are raging, your mood just might be raging too.
Which is actually kind of unfair. More often than not, mood issues have their root in nutrient deficiencies, poor gut health, neurotransmitter deficiencies, or imbalanced hormones. In other words, while most people blame irritability, depression, anxiety and other mood disorders on poor choices and wrong thinking, it may have more to do with a physical imbalance in the body.
At the same time, mood issues can go both ways. When you do give in to feelings of anger, unforgiveness or overwhelm, these toxic emotions can manifest as illness in the body.
Did you know that, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, anger and irritability are considered signs of poor liver function, along with other signs such as a perpetually red, flushed face or a vertical crease between the eyebrows?
So while you are working on cleaning up your diet to support detoxification, it’s also a good time to address any unresolved emotional issues. I love to spend the first part of my day in spiritual contemplation. Prayer, meditation, journaling and reflection are all ways to bring up and process hidden stressors that may be draining you emotionally. Can you any patterns of unresolved emotional tension that may be contributing to your fatigue?
Healing begins with the mind, so make sure to address any emotional stress in your life before it has chance to negatively impact your physical well-being. Easier said than done, I know, but it's worth it!
Other detox support methods can also help to pull toxins out of the tissues and draw out deep seated emotions, such as anger. Castor oils packs are one such detox method. A castor oil pack entails placing a heated flannel cloth soaked with castor oil over the abdomen and allowing the castor oil to penetrate while you relax for 30 minutes to an hour.
Castor oil packs can benefit the detox process in a number of ways. They stimulate drainage of the lymphatic system, which is responsible for removing toxic buildup from the body. Castor oil packs are also thought to improve digestion by stimulating elimination.
Finally, castor oil packs have been shown to have a normalizing effect on liver enzymes and to improve energy levels. Keep reading to find out what you will need as well as a step-by-step guide to applying the castor oil pack.
What You Will Need
- 100 percent pure, cold pressed castor oil
- Wool flannel
- A hot water bottle or heating pad
- An old towel or blanket
How to Use a Castor Oil Pack
- To begin fold the wool flannel into three layers and soak with castor oil. You want the flannel to be well saturated, but not dripping with oil.
- Place the soaked flannel in a glass baking dish and heat it in the oven on the lowest temperature. Ideally, the flannel will be hot, but not enough to burn your skin or cause discomfort. You can also skip this step and simply place the soaked flannel on the abdomen unheated, but you will need to rely on your hot water bottle or heating pad to warm the castor oil which can take a while.
- When you are ready to begin, lie down on an old towel or blanket. The castor oil can stain whatever it comes into contact with, so be sure you are also wearing old clothes that you don’t mind staining. Place the heated flannel on your abdomen, making sure it covers the lower right abdominal area where your liver resides.
- Place a heating pad or hot water bottle over the flannel (You may choose to wrap your heating pad in plastic to avoid being stained by the oil as well.) You will then want to cover the heated flannel and heating pad or water bottle with a second piece of clean, dry flannel to seal in the warmth. Alternatively, you can wrap your abdomen in plastic wrap, but I’m not a fan of this since the plastic itself can contain toxins that you don’t want in contact with your skin.
- Once you have the castor oil pack in place you will want to lie on your back and relax with your feet up, for up to an hour. Use this time to practice relaxation techniques like prayer, deep breathing or simply to rest.
- When finished, remove the castor oil soaked flannel from your abdomen and place it in a large glass jar. You can keep the flannel stored in the refrigerator for your next use- simply reheat the next time you are ready to apply your castor oil pack. Use a mild soap and warm water to carefully remove the castor oil from your stomach.
- For best results, use your castor oil pack for three consecutive days, then stop using the castor oil pack for three days, followed by another three days of consecutive use. This schedule can be repeated throughout the season to support detoxification.
Castor oil packs are also great for relieving symptoms of PMS and by stimulating the liver, you'll likely notice an improvement in other symptoms of hormone imbalance as well. In fact, many people report better sleep, improved moods, and other benefits from applying castor oil packs. Give castor oil packs a try and see what they can do for you!