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Author Topic:   castor oil packs-real treatment or quackery?
nator
Member (Idle past 1117 days)
Posts: 12961
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 1 of 97 (365563)
11-23-2006 7:57 AM


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.


"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool."- Richard Feynman

"Science is like a blabbermouth who ruins a movie by telling you how it ends! Well I say there are some things we don't want to know! Important things!"
- Ned Flanders


Replies to this message:
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Wounded King
Member (Idle past 569 days)
Posts: 4149
From: Edinburgh, Scotland
Joined: 04-09-2003


Message 2 of 97 (365566)
11-23-2006 8:37 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by nator
11-23-2006 7:57 AM


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.

TTFN,

WK


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purpledawn
Member
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 3 of 97 (365747)
11-24-2006 12:10 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by nator
11-23-2006 7:57 AM


Haven't Forgotten
Holiday and watching grandson all week has prevented me from having the time to address this accurately. I did dig up my books and hopefully can give you some info to work with.

Hopefully I can get to it in a few days. Just wanted you to know I haven't forgotten.


"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz
This message is a reply to:
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Chiroptera
Member (Idle past 1053 days)
Posts: 6202
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003


Message 4 of 97 (365792)
11-24-2006 3:36 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by nator
11-23-2006 7:57 AM


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.


Kings were put to death long before 21 January 1793. But regicides of earlier times and their followers were interested in attacking the person, not the principle, of the king. They wanted another king, and that was all. It never occurred to them that the throne could remain empty forever. -- Albert Camus
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nator
Member (Idle past 1117 days)
Posts: 12961
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 5 of 97 (365801)
11-24-2006 4:23 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by purpledawn
11-24-2006 12:10 PM


Re: Haven't Forgotten
It's cool.
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Lithodid-Man
Member
Posts: 504
From: Juneau, Alaska, USA
Joined: 03-22-2004


Message 6 of 97 (365894)
11-24-2006 11:47 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by nator
11-23-2006 7:57 AM


What I have found
Schraf,

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.

An oral toxicity study:
http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/htdocs/ST_rpts/tox012.pdf

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.


Wanda: To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people. I've known sheep who could outwit you. I've worn dresses with higher IQs, but you think you're an intellectual, don't you, ape?
Otto: Apes don't read philosophy.
Wanda: Yes they do, Otto, they just don't understand it.
"A Fish Called Wanda"
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purpledawn
Member
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 7 of 97 (365945)
11-25-2006 12:40 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by nator
11-23-2006 7:57 AM


Castor Oil Packs
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
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Replies to this message:
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Wounded King
Member (Idle past 569 days)
Posts: 4149
From: Edinburgh, Scotland
Joined: 04-09-2003


Message 8 of 97 (365948)
11-25-2006 12:49 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by purpledawn
11-25-2006 12:40 PM


Re: Castor Oil Packs
This treatment has been shown to increase immune system function and improve hormone balance by stimulating the liver to clear excess hormones.

I guess from a scientific standpoint the main question is where and in what way has this been shown? Does your book provide a reference?

Perhaps there is not only not enough research to show how they work but not even enough to show that they work for a lot of the conditions they are intended to treat?

TTFN,

WK


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nator
Member (Idle past 1117 days)
Posts: 12961
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 9 of 97 (365978)
11-25-2006 5:47 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by purpledawn
11-25-2006 12:40 PM


Re: Castor Oil Packs
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?

Like, how did they arrive at the 10cm figure?

I's be happy to write to the authors.


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 Message 7 by purpledawn, posted 11-25-2006 12:40 PM purpledawn has not yet responded

  
nator
Member (Idle past 1117 days)
Posts: 12961
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 10 of 97 (365980)
11-25-2006 5:50 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by purpledawn
11-25-2006 12:40 PM


Re: Castor Oil Packs
quote:
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.

Actually, they haven't been researched enough to know if they work at all.


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purpledawn
Member
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 11 of 97 (366039)
11-26-2006 9:47 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by Wounded King
11-25-2006 12:49 PM


Re: Castor Oil Packs
The references for that chapter that seem to pertain to those statements are:

Edelson, R.L., and Fink, J.M., "The Immunologic Function of Skin," Scientific American, 1985, 252(6): 46-53.

Gaginella, T.S., and Phillips, S.F., "Ricinoleic acid: Current view on an acient oil," Digestive Diseases, 1975, 20(12): 1171-7.


"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz
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nator
Member (Idle past 1117 days)
Posts: 12961
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 12 of 97 (366042)
11-26-2006 10:17 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by purpledawn
11-26-2006 9:47 AM


Re: Castor Oil Packs
Can you please explain what you mean when you say that the references "pertain" to those statements?

Meaning, are there citations in the book to the scientific literature after claims such as "castor oil packs have been shown to do X"?

How specific are the references?

Edited by schrafinator, : No reason given.


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purpledawn
Member
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 13 of 97 (366051)
11-26-2006 11:12 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by nator
11-26-2006 10:17 AM


Re: Castor Oil Packs
Meaning they didn't quote the reference, so there isn't a number pointing to which reference gave them that idea.

I reasoned that those two were more likely to be the source for the castor oil pack info.

The castor oil comments are a very small portion of the chapter.


"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz
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Coragyps
Member
Posts: 5143
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002
Member Rating: 1.5


Message 14 of 97 (366052)
11-26-2006 11:15 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by purpledawn
11-25-2006 12:40 PM


Re: Castor Oil Packs
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.


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purpledawn
Member
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 15 of 97 (366053)
11-26-2006 11:24 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by Coragyps
11-26-2006 11:15 AM


Re: Castor Oil Packs
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
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