Sabrina Maltby dragged herself out of bed, struggling to face another day of stomach bloat and discomfort. “Will this roller coaster ride ever end?” the 65-year-old teacher New Hampshire wondered, frustration filling her. For months, Sabrina had endured bouts of agonizing constipation — sometimes lasting for days. And when she finally experienced relief, it was filled with pain and strain.
“This can’t be good for me,” Sabrina realized. Wary of using harsh laxatives or prescription medications due to their side effects, she decided to turn to natural remedies, adding more fiber and water to her already healthy diet. But nothing gave — and alarmingly, Sabrina found herself becoming more and more fatigued. “What if I never find relief?” she worried.
A Simple Solution
In December of 2020, Sabrina felt a spark of hope when a friend shared a constipation remedy developed by Dr. Marisol Teijeiro, ND, who had triumphed over her own digestive issues using castor oil “packs.” This ancient healing practice has been used for centuries to relieve constipation and GI distress.
Fascinated, Sabrina learned that the packs, which are soaked in castor oil, then placed over the liver and worn overnight, stimulate the EP3 prostaglandin receptors, which help gently move the smooth muscles of the intestinal tract to cleanse and flush the system.
Deciding it couldn’t hurt to give it a try, Sabrina treated herself to a castor oil pack bundle ($59 from drmarisol.com) for her birthday. The kit included a reusable cotton sherpa flannel pack and a bottle of the castor oil. Each night before bed, Sabrina simply drizzled a small amount of oil onto the pack before securing it over her liver and drifting off to sleep. She awoke the next morning and was shocked that within 15 minutes, she experienced relief — minus the familiar pain or strain. “I can’t believe it!” Sabrina thought, though she wondered if it was just a fluke. But after wearing the pack again the next night with the same result, she knew she’d found her solution.
Using the pack each night, Sabrina fell into a consistent rhythm of smooth, pain-free elimination every morning. As the weeks passed, she also noticed her clothes fitting looser, increased energy, sounder sleep, and no more bloat.
Today, the castor oil packs are a part of Sabrina’s nightly routine, and she is thrilled that each bottle of the oil lasts four months. “I don’t go to bed without my castor oil pack!” Sabrina says, sharing that she also wears the pack over her stomach (instead of the liver) after eating a heavy meal to ease digestion. “It’s unbelievable. I feel as young as my 35-year-old daughter — and I finally have my life back!”
Harness the Healing Power of Castor Oil
“Using a castor oil pack on your belly triggers intestinal muscle contractions and helps the bowel retain moisture, so waste passes through easily,” says women’s health expert Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, who credits the oil’s ricinoleic acid for the laxative effect. To make your own: Fold a large piece of wool flannel (“It helps the oil penetrate more deeply”) into three or four layers, soak it with castor oil, then heat it in a baking dish in the oven until the flannel is tolerably hot.
Next, rub three tablespoons of the oil on your abdomen, lie down, and place the warm flannel on top. Cover it with plastic wrap, then lay a heating pad over the top. Wait 30 minutes to help constipation and up to an hour for other uses, like indigestion. Wash off the oil and keep the flannel in a sealed plastic bag for future use.
“The pack brings old-fashioned, drugless healing,” says Gittleman, who adds that its other benefits include boosting immunity and liver function as well as reducing pain.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.