DIY Help For Painful Periods: Part Two

Castor Oil Packs: Say Yes to Warmth!

If wrapping up with a blanket and heating pad is your go-to pain relief, and especially if you have a lot of clots in your period blood, you might enjoy trying a castor oil pack for period pain!

Castor oil, when applied topically, is thought to decrease inflammation, swelling and pain. From a Traditional East AsianMedicine perspective, it helps to resolve the blood stagnation that is usually causing painful periods. In this way it can help to improve your fertility if blood stagnation is an issue. If you are trying to conceive however, castor oil packs should only be applied once your period has fully started or you’ve gotten a negative pregnancy test.

We suggest applying castor oil packs before bed as a way to wind down and ease into rest at the end of the day. The heat and pain relieving effects will hopefully lull you into a restorative, deep sleep. The following instructions strive to simplify the application process so that it isn’t quite as messy as traditional castor oil packs!

What you’ll need:

  • Clean un-dyed wool or flannel (large enough to spread over your abdomen in two or three layers). You can purchase this from any fabric store or find some prepared squares online.
  • Castor oil. Can be found at a local health food store or market, or if you’re looking online, we recommend this oil from Mountain Rose Herbs.
  • An old set of clothes that you don’t mind getting stained or oily 
  • A large towel 
  • A heating pad or hot water bottle
  • Ziplock plastic bag for storage
  • Optional: Glass roller bottle used to apply castor oil. By pouring the castor oil into a roller bottle and using this to apply the oil to your abdomen, the messiness of applying sticky castor oil with your hands is minimized.) 

How to make and apply a castor oil pack:

  1. Prepare a comfortable space. Place your towel on a flat surface where you’ll be able to comfortably lie down for a while. Change into your older set of clothes. 
  2. Get your heat source ready. Fill your bottle with hot water or heat up your heating pad on a low or medium setting.
  3. Spread castor oil on your bare belly. Using your fingers, a corner of the wool/flannel or a roller bottle, apply a layer of castor oil onto your lower abdomen. You can use your fingertips or the flannel to gently massage the oil into your skin.
  4. Place folded flannel or wool on abdomen. Once you’ve spread a layer of castor oil on your abdomen, place the flannel on top!
  5. Apply heat. Place the heating pad or hot water bottle over the castor oil pack. Rest with heated castor oil pack for 30 minutes (choose a setting on the heating pad that allows you to rest for that long comfortably) 
  6. Clean up! When you’ve rested long enough, remove the heat source and castor oil pack. You can gently massage any excess castor oil into your belly or wipe it off with the folded fabric or your towel. Place the oily wool flannel into a ziplock plastic bag and store in your refrigerator for future use.

Have you used a castor oil pack for painful periods? We’d love to hear how it went and if it helped in the comments!

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