In a recent chat session about naturopathy, purpledawn mentioned that her naturopath is treating her assumed elevated estrogen levels by treating her liver, by having her use castor oil packs.
As far as I can gather, a towel is soaked in castor oil and is laid on the skin over the liver. Supposedly, the castor oil soaks through the skin and gets into the liver where it finds the exess estrogen there and carries it out of the body.
Needless to say, I found this scenario quite astonishing.
Many questions came to my mind immediately, and I am wondering if PD has asked them of her Naturopath.
The questions I would have if a naturopath told me to do that would be:
How do you know I have estrogen above normal levels without taking a blood test?
Is there any proof that castor oil is absorbed through the outer layer of skin to the underlying tissues?
If so, how does the castor oil get directly to the liver without doing anything else to any other tissues?
How does the castor oil know to leave the healthy amount of estrogen in my ovaries and take only the exess in my liver?
If we haven't done any urine or blood tests to determine what my estrogen levels were before starting the castor oil packs, during use, and after stopping them, how can we know if my hormone levels were changing?
If we aren't doing blood or urine tests, how do we know that the castor oil is being absorbed into my system?
If my liver gets "cleaned" of the exess estrogen, how do I know without a blood test if my estrogen levels are back to normal?
Edited by schrafinator, : No reason given.
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there any proof that castor oil is absorbed through the outer layer of skin to the underlying tissues?
I think there probably is. Castor oil and fish liver oils are quite often used as factors to aid the transdermal application of drugs. I'm not sure how deep the penetration of such applications is, in some cases the intention is only to reach the sub-cutaneous blood vessels to introduce factors into the blood stream, so penetration need not be very deep.
quote:If we haven't done any urine or blood tests to determine what my estrogen levels were before starting the castor oil packs, during use, and after stopping them, how can we know if my hormone levels were changing?
When your beard is fuller than Zhimbo's, then we can probably assume enough estrogen has been removed.
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I spent the last several hours searching through medical research journals looking for answers to some of your questions. The first thing I learned is that I am really glad to be an invert researcher - vertebrates are just gross on the inside!
Unfortunately I could find very little information on the effectiveness of castor oil packs (not counting naturopath resources, looking through scientific literature). A general web search revealed thousands of websites, all of them naturopath, herbal, and homeopath sites. It was not a confidence boost IMO that pretty much all of them cited Edgar Cayce as the original source of the procedure. Him having been either insane or, more likely, a major fraud does not make me trust his medical expertise!
I did find several toxicity studies, but these are based on oral applications. Interestingly enough I did find that Mussolini used massive doses of castor oil to torture prisoners (sometimes mixed with gasoline to insure fatality). Dermal applications are mentioned in the literature but only as a means of administering lipophilic medications. I did find skin application toxicity experiment with rabbits that resulted in relatively mild skin irritation (they were looking at castor oil as a base for cosmetics, apparently many people have allergies or other reactions to these cosmetics (Rantuccio, et al. 1981).
Reading through some of the more prominent natural healing cites raised several red flags for me. The first, and most important (short of using Cayce as an authority!) is that the castor oil packs are reported to cure just about everything. I am suspicious of supposed cure-alls, the pharmacology alone would seem to require magic. The second major red flag (and one you hinted at) is that to work on whatever organ they are supposed to the packs need to be held over that organ (kidneys, liver, stomach, etc). This makes no sense, either it penetrates the skin and gets into the bloodstream to get to the organ in question (so it doesn't matter where it is applied) or it somehow penetrates straight down through skin, multiple muscle layers, bones, etc to reach just the organ underneath.
So, I am sorry I have nothing profound but I hope there is something of value.
A skin toxicity study: Rantuccio F, Sinidsi D, Scardigno A, and Coviello C (1981) Histological changes in rabbits after application of medicaments and cosmetic bases. II. Contact Dermatitis 7: 94-97.
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Ok I got my books out so I can say things correctly, hopefully. I notice that most of what anyone has found on the internet pretty much says that Castor Oil Packs have not been researched enough to know exactly how they work. So what I am presenting is according to what I have read from various sources.
My use of the pack is two-fold since I also have gallstones besides heading into menopause.
As far as estrogen is concerned. From the book: Creating and Maintaining Balance, A Woman's Guide to Safe, Natural Hormone Health, by Holly Lucille, ND, RN and forward by Jacob Teitelbaum, MD.
Xenoestrogens are all around us--that's a fact. Previously, their small amounts of estogenic activity were dismissed, but recent findings publishe in Environmental Health Perspectives indicate all those little exposures add up. The researchers found that the effects of a collection of xenoestrogens, even though each one was beneath the levels at which they cause an effet, was to more than double the effect of natural estrogen by itself.
Same Book: Estrogen Dominance When there is an excess of any hormone, an imbalance devlopes, and health proglems can arise. When there is too much estrogena nd not enough progesterone to counteract its effects, the situation is called estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance is caused by exposure to excess environmental xenoestrogens, use of synthetic estrogens (birth control pill and HRT), anovulation (lack of ovulation during menstrual cycle, which is not uncommon among women older than 35), digestion issues (which tax the estrogen-detoxification process in the liver), unrelenting stress (which strains the adrenals and the thyroid), poor diet, unresolved emotional issues, and negative lifestyle factors (including smoking).
Unopposed estrogen appears to be the greatest risk factor for developing Endometrial Cancer
Same Book - Castor Oil Pack Another option is a castor oil pack. This traditional treatment is often prescribed for homone imbalance, intestinal discorder, liver and gallbladder conditions, headaches, urinary tract infections, and cleansing/detoxification programs. ...The oil is absorbed into circulation, providing a cleansing, nutritive, and relaxing treatment. This treatment has been shown to increase immune system function and improve hormone balance by stimulating the liver to clear excess hormones.
From the book: No More HRT, Menopause, Treat the Cause; by Dr. Karen Jensen, ND & Lorna R. Vanderhaeghe, BSc.
Castor oil is used topically, in a castor oil pack, to enhance the functioning of the lymphatic system and the immune system. It is also a powerful detoxifier, able to draw toxins out of the body from as far as 10cm down.
Looking at the article on Edgar Cayce and other sites the difference between the oral Castor Oil and the Pack seems to be that the pack supposedly affects the lymphatic system.
The oral use of Castor Oil doesn't seem to deal with the lymphatic system. I can't find that link that was in the other thread on the test for how the castor oil moves through the body, but maybe the intestines don't absorb the oil to affect the lumphatic system.
The pack seems to have gentler affect than the oral intake. My ND doesn't want me to take castor oil orally because it would stimulate the gallbladder to harshly. We don't want all the gallstones rushing to the exit. :D
"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz
quote:Castor oil is used topically, in a castor oil pack, to enhance the functioning of the lymphatic system and the immune system. It is also a powerful detoxifier, able to draw toxins out of the body from as far as 10cm down.
So, how do they know this? What research or experiemnt or tests are they basing this on?
It is also a powerful detoxifier, able to draw toxins out of the body from as far as 10cm down.
Statements like this are why I spend so much on new bullshit detectors - even the heavy-duty ones burn out their circuits when exposed to this sort of drivel. Which "toxins?" Should a used-up castor-oil pack be treated as hazardous medical waste because it's "toxic?" How does the pack "know" what to extract from the body, and how to find it four inches inside, in your liver or whatever? Does castor oil go after the same toxins as "chelation therapy" does?
Do the practitioners and promoters of this stuff have any data or the solubilities or partition coefficients of, say, estrogen and pregesterone in castor oil? Do they have data to show that castor oil will extract (in the lab, even - leaving out this ten-centimeter-deep bologna) estrogen more efficiently than, say, vitamin D or vitamin E? Those are also oil-soluble essentials in the body, and D even is stored in the liver.
Quackery. With a seven-foot duck doing the quacking.
I don't have the answers, I just gave Schraf what I've found in books to help explain what the packs supposedly do.
And as I said in Message 7: I notice that most of what anyone has found on the internet pretty much says that Castor Oil Packs have not been researched enough to know exactly how they work. So what I am presenting is according to what I have read from various sources.
I haven't found anything yet that says they are harmful either.
"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz