Wellness Articles

My Favorite Liver Detox

And no, its NOT a juice cleanse!  What if I told you you could combat acne, breast tenderness and PMS cramps, constipation, brain fog and fatigue, headaches, weight gain, and prolonged soreness after exercise with just a simple weekly therapy?  Would you believe me?  Are you in? 

It's not a magic pill, and it's not too good to be true, it's... castor oil!

Wait, back up, all those symptoms are really linked to toxins? Yes!

  • Acne - a sign of the body relying on the skin as a backup detox organ because the liver is too overwhelmed

  • Breast tenderness and PMS cramps - signs of excess estrogen that the liver isn't clearing

  • Constipation - a sign of a sluggish gallbladder, which is the organ that eliminates toxins, or "takes out the trash" after the liver detoxes or "cleans up"

  • Brain fog and fatigue - signs of inflammation and oxidative stress due to the liver not neutralizing enough free radicals

  • Headaches - a sign of dehydration because the body is eliminating too much water in an attempt to flush toxins, of hormonal imbalance because the liver isn't clearing estrogen, or even of neurotoxicity because when the liver can't keep up, the body stores toxins in fatty tissues like our nervous system

  • Weight gain - among other things, it may be a sign that the body is storing excess toxins in adipose (fat) tissue because the liver isn't keeping up with demand

  • Prolonged soreness after exercise - a sign that metabolic waste products like lactic acid and inflammatory signal molecules are not being quickly removed by the liver

The liver clearly has a BIG job to do, but it is only one step in an intricate detoxification process

  1. Gather toxins from the tissues and move them via the lymphatic system

  2. Move toxins from the lymph into general circulation

  3. Move toxins in the blood stream to the liver

  4. Phase 1 liver detox

  5. Phase 2 liver detox

  6. Elimination of now water soluble toxins to the gallbladder

  7. Elimination of toxins via bile from the gallbladder into the colon

  8. Final elimination of toxic waste products from the colon in the stool

This is why we don't do fad or juice cleanses!  They typically only support 1 or 2 steps of this process. And if we only support step 4 or 5 on the assembly line but the rest of the steps are sluggish, that imbalance causes a build up of toxic intermediates that can be worse than just not detoxing in the first place!  You know those nasty "normal detox symptoms" we've come to associate with fad cleanses?  The headaches, body aches, fatigue, nausea etc. News flash!  Those aren't detox symptoms, those are toxic symptoms!  The imbalance in the "assembly line" leads to a buildup of toxic intermediates that lead to symptoms of toxicity.

Enter, Castor Oil :)

Castor beans have a laxative effect when taken orally, but when the oil is absorbed from the skin, it has thinning & cleansing properties.  Specifically, castor oil stimulates lymphatic flow to mobilize toxins to and through the liver, gallbladder and colon. In this way castor oil packs properly support the detoxification process from start to finish.  Leaving you refreshed, cleansed, and detox-symptom free.

How To

  1. Apply castor oil directly to your skin over the entire abdomen, with special attention to the liver, which is on your right side near the bottom of your ribcage

  2. Cover in some type of cloth (it doesn't need to be flannel)

  3. Apply heat

  4. Rest with the "pack" on for at least 20 mins, and you're done!

Tips & Tricks

  • I always do my castor oil pack before bed, so I don't have to worry about finding time in my day to get messy and "rest," plus all the oil is absorbed by morning, so you don't need to wash it off! We like efficiency ;)

  • Because I do it before bed, I secure the cloth to my body with an ace bandage and cover up with an old T-shirt so I don't get my sheets oily

  • If it's super hot outside and the idea of going to sleep or just laying down with a heating pad on is horrid, just skip the heat all together, the ambient temperature and your body heat will suffice

What You Need

  • Organic, hexane free castor oil. I love this one, because it is both those things AND comes in a roll-on bottle! Like I said, we like efficiency

  • EMF-free heat source. Instead of an electric heating pad, I use this hot water bottle because it keeps warm through the night, doesn't leak, and doesn't have any weird rubber or chemical smell to it


  • Castor oil packs are safe for all ages, just reduce the time and heat for children

    • Under 12 years old - 40 mins is sufficient

    • Under 6 years old - 20 mins is sufficient

  • If you have an IUD, restrict use to only over the liver, not the whole abdomen

  • If you have significant GI issues like Crohn's or Colitis, start with just 10 minutes

  • DO NOT use if you

    • Are pregnant or menstruating

    • Have had recent abdominal surgery

    • Have internal bleeding

We cannot ignore that we are exposed to toxins on a consistent, ongoing basis.  That means we need to be detoxing on a consistent, ongoing basis.  You can do castor oil packs up to 4 nights in a row, but I encourage my clients simply to adopt a weekly or biweekly habit. Every little bit helps!

Happy detoxing!