The Surprising Benefits of Castor Oil for Massage (and How to Use It Safely)

Picture of a woman enjoying massage with castor oil

Once upon a time, castor oil was folk’s natural remedy for all sorts of ailments, and mothers would religiously give their children a daily dose of this not so pleasant tasting oil. While castor oil comes with a host of benefits, there is a more appealing way of reaping the goodness without necessarily heaping the dose on a spoon– through massage.

Castor oil is an amazing massage oil with deep penetrating properties when applied to the skin and can help reduce inflammation, relieve pain and fatigue, and induce sleep. Besides, the oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties that can help with dandruff, scalp issues, and dry ends.

Read on to find out what is in castor oil and tips for using it as a massage oil.

Benefits and Uses of Castor Oil

The castor oil plant is one of the oldest cultivated crops. It produces non-volatile fatty oil that’s very thick and has a color ranging from clear, greenish to amber. The fact that this oil contains therapeutic components such as fatty acids (ricinoleic), flavonoids, amino acids, phenolic compounds, phytosterols, and terpenoids makes it a remarkable massage oil.

Typically, these compounds give castor oil the following properties and potential health benefits when used as massage oil:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-diabetic
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antioxidant
  • Free radical removal

When applied topically on the skin, castor oil allows the massage therapist’s hands to glide smoothly for a relaxing massage experience. The oil allows the therapist to reach and manipulate deep muscle tissues without undue friction on your skin.

Here is what you stand to gain by using castor oil for massage:

Ease joint pain and arthritis

Castor oil has been used as a natural treatment for joint pain and arthritis. It has anti-inflammatory properties, making it an exceptional massage oil that can relieve muscle pain, joint aches, and inflammation. A study conducted at the University of Miami showed that a 15-minute light pressure massage applied daily led to reduced pain by up to 57 percent and improved grip strength in 22 people diagnosed with hand or wrist arthritis. Besides, using castor oil on the affected area also helps relieve soreness by promoting fluid circulation, which reduces the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles.

Reduce the appearance of wrinkles

If you’ve noticed wrinkles and fine lines on your skin, you don’t have to worry, as castor oil can help treat this troubling issue. As we age, the reserve of elastin and collagen (that keep skin looking plump) reduces, resulting in increased stiffness and decreased elasticity in the skin. Castor oil diffuses into the skin and promotes the production of collagen, which helps to hydrate and firm the skin. The skin will become softer and smoother than before, therefore giving you a youthful look.

Supports wound healing

When applied on wounds, castor oil blocks your skin’s pores, prevents moisture from leaving your skin, and lowers infection risks. The oil also stimulates tissue growth that creates a barrier between a wound and the external environment, accelerating the wound healing process. Besides, it prevents sores from drying out, cornification, and the building up of dead cells that might delay wound healing. Just be sure to check with your doctor before trying castor oil or any other remedy on a wound.

Boost immune system

Castor massage oil can improve thymus gland health, lymphatic drainage, and blood flow, among other immune system functions. The oil stimulates the body to secrete proper levels of lymphocytes (a type of white blood cells) that are stored and released into the lymphatic tissue. Typically, the lymphocytes attack any perceived threats to the body, including toxins and bacteria. Some people apply castor oil packs to the abdomen to increase its absorption rate into the body.

Combat insomnia

If you’re having difficulties either falling asleep or staying asleep, using castor massage oil can help. Insomnia is usually associated with a lack of serotonin. Gently massaging the areas around your eyes with castor oil before going to bed can significantly increase your body’s serotonin levels. Serotonin also plays a crucial role in improving appetite, mood, behavior, and physical coordination.

Moisturizes the skin

Picture of a woman relaxing after self-massage

Castor oil contains fatty acids that help retain moisture in the skin. Fatty acid works by blocking your skin pores and preventing the moisture from leaving the skin. This oil also has humectant properties, which means it can draw moisture from the air into the skin. Hence, it can be an excellent remedy for individuals with dry palms, skin, and scaly underfoot.

Besides, castor oil is particularly beneficial for people suffering from Atopic Dermatitis, a skin ailment that takes a toll on your skin due to increased pollution and climatic change.

Again, be sure to check with your doctor before trying castor oil to help with any ailment.

Eases menstrual cramps

Castor oil has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Massaging castor oil over your abdomen can help relieve symptoms of period pain and cramps.

Clears acne

Applying castor oil on your skin can help combat acne. It can draw out dirt, excess oils (sebum), dead skins, and bacteria, which leads to the reduction of acne. Besides, it works to resolve deeper underlying issues that cause skin breakout, such as hormonal imbalances.

By the way, if acne is a concern of yours, make sure to check out my article on best massage oil for acne prone skin.

How should I Use Castor Oil for Massage?

Although there is no fixed approach to using castor massage oil, here are a few ways of going about it:

Direct application: You can put five drops of castor oil in a bowl and heat it till lukewarm (do not overheat it). Apply the oil gently on any part of your body that you want to massage, and gently massage it in circular motions. Do this for approximately 10-30 minutes. You can wash it off in warm water or leave it on for a couple of hours.

Using hot compress: This entails using a castor oil pack that requires the use of heat. To do this, you will need:

  • Castor oil
  • Flannel or cotton cloth
  • Plastic wrap
  • Glass container with a lid
  • A heating pad or hot water bottle

Soak the cloth or flannel in castor oil. Fold the cloth, lie down on a comfortable surface and position the soaked cloth on the desired part of your body. Place the plastic wrap over the soaked cloth and start pressing it against your skin with a hot water bottle or heat pad. Do this for about 45-60 minutes. Once done, remove the rap carefully, store the cloth in a glass container and refrigerate. The flannel can be used in the future for hot compress massages.

Safety Tips on Using Castor Oil for Massage

While castor oil is safe to use for body massage, it’s crucial to take the following measures:

Buy the correct product: Choosing the best castor oil is vital. It’s recommended that you look for a reputable, familiar vendor like your local pharmacy. Also, ensure that the castor oil properties and ingredients in your product of choice meet your unique needs.

Do a patch test: Castor oil has shown mild or moderate symptoms of irritation in some people. So, before using the oil, it’s best to determine if you’re allergic to it. Put a small amount of castor oil on your forearm and allow it to sit for 24 hours. Even if you have the slightest itching or redness, you should avoid it because that’s a sign you’re allergic to it.

Downsides of Using Castor Oil for Massage

You might experience the following challenges when using castor oil for massage:

Thickness: Since castor oil is thick, it might take time for the body to absorb it fully. However, you can dilute it with other oils such as peanut or olive oil on a 1:1 ratio to promote absorption into the skin.

Greasiness: Castor oil can be greasy and messy, and so you’ll want to put a bath towel between yourself and the furniture or bedding when massaging.

The Takeaway

Photo of a woman enjoying a massage with oil

Picking any random massage oil might not do the job effectively or give you the results you desire. With castor oil, your massage will not only untangle knots, relieve muscles and tissues but also relax your body by melting away your stress and heat of life. The anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, curing, nourishing, replenishing, and softening properties of the castor oil make it the ideal companion for a relaxing massage.