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How to add a castor oil pack to your liver detox

By Dr. Sharon Stills, NMD

Make a castor oil pack to help with a liver detox

Do you wake up in the middle of the night and then have a terrible time getting back to sleep? In traditional Chinese medicine, waking between the hours of 1 – 3 AM correlates with the “time of the liver,” a cycle in which your liver, the body’s largest detox organ, is highly active. By waking, and especially not being able to fall right back to sleep, it may be the liver giving you a sign that it needs a detox of its own. 

There’s a lot you do to give your liver some love and help it with detoxifying. One of my favorite tools for doing this is to make and use a castor oil pack. 

Using a castor oil pack placed on the skin over the liver is a time honored tradition. Many schools of traditional medicine have used castor oil to help support optimized liver function, to improve detoxification and hormonal balance and to reduce inflammation in the liver. Castor oil is prized for its ricinoleic acid, a compound in castor beans believed to help the body rid itself of excess toxins. Modern research backs up this claim.

Want to give a castor oil pack a try? Here’s what you’ll need and some easy directions to get you started with this relaxing practice. 


  • Castor oil from the health food store (make sure the label says “hexane free” )
  • Large (12”x27”) piece of unbleached natural wool or cotton flannel
  • Old bed sheet and old towels
  • Plastic grocery bag
  • Heating pad or hot water bottle
  • Quart-sized glass mason jar 
  • Tongs

How to Use a Castor Oil Pack

  1. Fold your large (approximately 12”x27”) piece of flannel into thirds to make three layers. 
  2. Place folded flannel in the large mason jar and add a few tablespoons of castor oil, giving the oil time to seep in. Continue to add castor oil a few tablespoons at a time until the cloth is thoroughly soaked. 
  3. Castor oil can stain so be aware of your surroundings and cover any surfaces (bed, chair, etc.) with old sheets or towels.
  4. Plug in heating pad or fill hot water bottle. 
  5. Carefully remove flannel from jar with tongs and place over liver.
  6. On top of the flannel place a towel. Lay a plastic bag over the towel, and place the heating pad on the bag to prevent oil from staining or clinging to the heating pad.   
  7. Relax for 30-60 minutes. You can practice deep breathing, pray, meditate, listen to a podcast or just close your eyes and let your mind wander. 
  8. After the desired time, remove the pack and return the flannel to the glass container. Store in the fridge.
  9. Use a natural soap to remove any castor oil left on the skin.
  10. Drink some water or tea to help you stay hydrated after doing this to support detox.

I often recommend that patients do a castor oil pack 1-2 times/week (or more!) to help support their liver if they’re dealing with hormonal imbalance and/or detoxification issues or fatty liver. It can also be helpful when you are having severe PMS. (Shift the pack to your lower abdomen.)

Keep up your castor oil pack habit and note any changes, especially this big one — are you sleeping better through the night? 

Last Updated: July 12, 2022
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