The People's Perspective on Medicine

Castor Oil Helped Prevent Knee Surgery

Castor oil has been used for thousands of years. One woman shares her husband's success with this ancient remedy to ease knee pain. Will it work for you?

Castor oil is an old-timey remedy. The oil comes from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant. It has been used for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians used castor oil in their lamps because it was slow burning. They also used it as a body oil for their skin. Medicinally, it was valued as a laxative. The famed Christian mystic, Edgar Cayce, loved castor oil, aka Palma Christi (the palm of Christ). He wrote about it in his books and used it for fungal infections, acne, inflammation and wound healing.

Treatment with CO “Packs”

Cayce often recommended castor oil packs to his “clients.” They were told to fold soft flannel cloth a couple of times, soak the flannel in the oil, wring it out, and then apply it to the area on the body that “needs treatment.” This topical remedy has been used for a wide variety of conditions, from bruises and warts to cracked fingertips and sore joints. Here is just one story from a reader of our newspaper column:

Joint Pain:

Q. Castor Oil is a life-saver for joints, especially knees.

A few years ago, my husband hurt/twisted his knee while getting in and out of a huge truck. The pain only increased as time went by, so we went to urgent care. After x-rays, etc., my husband was told that it really required surgery to repair and fix his knee, which was NOT in our budget at the time. What to do?

We had already heard about using castor oil on joints from a couple of doctors (M.D.) with knowledge in natural remedies, also.

According to instructions, I massaged castor oil into his whole knee area; then I wrapped the whole area with an old cloth (that I would continue to keep stored/sealed in a zippy-bag, for re-use) and with saran-type-wrap, because the oil is both greasy and staining–it will not wash out. After that, we put a heating pad on the area (SET ON LOW heat) for an hour. We kept the wrappings on his knee over night.

I had to beg my husband to let me apply the oil and wrappings on the first night. The second night, he reminded me to fix up his knee again. Night number three, he did it himself, on his own. He woke up the next morning, with his knee feeling great.

If/when he or I ever hurt any joint, both of us know to rub with the castor oil, wrap with a cloth, cover for a while, and get relief. Heat does not have to be applied, but it helps.

There is nothing like castor oil for knees and joints. It’s messy, but who cares, if it helps prevent or STOP the need for surgery and if it stops pain?

PS. A few years ago a non-oily version of castor oil came out on the market: Castiva. We always kept a tube or two around the house; we can not find it now, though. Any idea where we can find Castiva?

A. Castiva Arthritis Pain Relief is still available. You can find it online or in independent pharmacies. Castiva contains a castor oil base and comes in both a warming formula (capsaicin) or a cooling formula (menthol and methyl salicylate). Capsaicin (the hot stuff in hot chili peppers) has long been used to ease joint pain. Combined with castor oil we think this is a winning formulation.

Diane in New York had a somewhat similar experience:

“My mother was always ahead of her time with everything. She was a vegetarian all her life of 88 yrs. She did yoga for 55 yrs (before it became popular) and read Edgar Cayce and became a fan of castor oil immediately.

“I have recently had unexplained extreme pain in my knee area and shoulder. Blood tests ruled out lupus and Lyme (I had a tick bite last year). The blood work showed inflammation. The Rheumatologist recommended medication but I chose the oil route instead. I experienced improvement within a few days.

Prior to the castor oil pack I could not stand or walk without a knee brace and cane. Now nothing, no pain at all…RIP Mom.”

Other Conditions:


L.C.F. tells a great story about bruise prevention:

“Whenever my children hurt themselves, the first thing I reached for was the castor oil. My mother-in-law’s uncle was a boxer and castor oil was what they used after a boxing match to prevent hematomas and bruising. It works like a charm. It has been passed down as a remedy in my family for many years.”

Tom D. accumulated a lot of bruises as a Lacrosse player:

“Used oil from the castor bean in Lacrosse for years. Put on the oil and wrapped it with plastic wrap, bruise would at times be gone the next day. Frustrated a lot of players because they would swear that they hit you… :-) “

M.M. is super susceptible to bruising:

“Castor Oil DEFINITELY WORKS!!! I am a huge bruiser, esp. since I am borderline anemic and whenever I bruise and I apply castor oil right away directly to bruise and rub it in a bit, it significantly minimizes the bruise right away and/or decreases the severity or # of days it shows! I love it!”


D.G. uses it for a variety of aches and pains:

“I rub castor oil on my aches and pains, and it helps a lot. Some people make packs. I used them when the doctors said I had liver cancer. We don’t know what happened to the liver cancer! It is gone. I use castor oil every chance I get. I hope it works for others! Take care!!”


V.M. finally got rid of warts with castor oil:

“I had warts on my hands when I was younger. Tried the burning/freezing remedies and nothing worked as well as my mother’s remedy of applying castor oil to the wart and covering with a band aid. This got rid of the warts completely. I forget how long it took or how often I had to reapply, but they never came back.”

Anne had equally excellent long-term success:

” It completely eliminated a wart that I had tried to eliminate for over twenty years. It did not even leave a scar! I applied the oil on the wart after showering and at bedtime and covered it with a bandage. I kept at it until it was gone, maybe two months.”

Other Uses:

If you find the stories about this old-fashioned remedy of interest, here are some links to more:

Does Castor Oil Clear Actinic Keratosis?

Clear Up Cracks at the Corner of the Mouth (Angular Cheilitis) with Castor Oil

Topical Castor Oil Helped Banish Skin Tag

Inducing Labor:

One of the most unusual applications of this old-fashioned remedy is to start labor when a baby is overdo. We knew a pharmacist, John McDonald, in Durham, NC. He had a wall of his drugstore dedicated to pictures of babies that had been born after their mothers drank his special concoction containing castor oil. 

To our surprise, there are several studies of this effect. A study published in the journal Women and Birth (April, 2018) concluded:

“Nearly 91% of women in the study who consumed the castor oil cocktail to induce labor were able to give birth vaginally with little to no maternal or fetal complications.”

Israeli researchers carried out a randomized controlled trial (Women and Birth, Feb. 2018). They found that:

“Multiparous women in the intervention group exhibited a significant beneficial effect on entering active labor within 24, 36 and 48h after castor oil consumption compared with the placebo.”

Women should not consider this approach, however, unless they have consulted with their midwife or obstetrician. 

We would love to learn about your stories. Share your experiences below.

And if you would like other home remedies for arthritis, muscle aches, warts, headaches or just about any other ailment, you might like a copy of our book, Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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My husband has had pain in his groin, numbness and stiffness on his upper thigh for some time now. He has had MRI, x-rays, gone to several doctors and they cant find anything wrong. I rubbed castor oil in the morning and in an hour he felt relief. I rubbed it again at night (after his shower) but the next day the stiffness and pain came back, so he took a pain killer and doesn’t want me to rub castor oil again. Is this normal? should I insist on rubbing Castor Oil for several days? I cant put a pack as it is in an awkward place.
Any suggestions?

Where can i buy castor oil liquid,?

Regarding use of castor oil to induce labor — my mother was instructed to consume a full bottle of castor oil by her doctor when she was 10 days overdue with her first pregnancy. My grandfather, who was a pharmacist, objected to the high dose — since castor oil is toxic in large quantities — but the young doctor insisted. I was born less than 24 hours later, but my mother suffered from bowel problems for years afterwards. It should only be used under supervision of a *knowledgeable* medical provider.

I’m intrigued at the topical uses for it and wonder if it would have any effect on mosquito bites. Since developing chronic leukemia, I react terribly to them (apparently not an uncommon aspect of CLL). I’m going to look for the cream or oil and give it a try.

My own reading suggested a Rag Wool rap. I also like Rag Wool socks for foot pain. Should not wear to bed. A little bit of treatment can go along way so don’t overdo.

I recently used castor oil for a boil on my back. After a week it’s almost healed and I can wear my bra again.

My husband had two large keloids in the middle of his chest. They were painful and itchy so he could not wear the seatbelt in the car. His went to a surgeon who surgically removed them and followed with radiation x 7 days. After a few months his keloids came back again but even larger.

The doctor injected potent steroids into the keloids with only temporary control. Later they continued to grow and became more sensitive and itchy than before. I researched Google and found out about castor oil for keloids. He applied it at bedtime, covered with dressing. It was a miracle: after a few months the keloids were completely gone, leaving only two flat scars in the chest.

He doesn’t use castor oil regularly now but only if he begins to feel the itch sensation in the scars. The doctor was in total shock. It has been over 5 years now.

Just read your article and some of the remarks. I am going to try the oil. I was quite amused by the labor-inducing aspect. I was supposed to be born on Christmas. We were living in a tiny rural town way up in the mountains, and the country doctor there was taking care of my Mom (may she rest in peace). She didn’t want to leave my sister and Dad alone on Christmas so she asked the doctor about it. He said to take castor oil about a week or so before Christmas, and if I was ready I would come. I did! A full week before. :-)

It fixed mine too. Now I’m using it for everything from warts to moles to arthritis. Thanks, Granny!

I used castor oil packs for a gallbladder attack a couple years ago (along with drinking apple and cranberry juice) I had to wait two weeks for a test to see what it was … so looked up home remedies for the pain. I used the castor oil packs for a few days on and off thru out the day, and by the time it was time for my test they could find nothing wrong, and the pain was almost gone. A couple more days, and it was gone completely. I am now going to try it for arthritis pain in knees which makes it almost unbearable to walk some days.

I love castor oil to soothe knee pain and other pains and I regularly use it instead of body cream.

I bought Castiva as you mentioned it but you apparently didn’t notice that it contains parabens. I’m going to use up the tube but because of the parabens, don’t plan to buy it again.

Castor oil is a great treatment for inflammation and swelling. Also skin rashes like poison ivy

I rubbed castor oil on my feet, as they were dry with flaking skin, but I got diarrhea the next day, and stopped using it. I really thought the diarrhea was caused by the castor oil. Was I wrong or may it have just be coincidence?

Anybody treat and rid themselves of toenail fungus with castor oil applications? Asking because no other topical home remedies help my husband with this problem. Thanks!

As a primary care physician I have used castor oil routinely on post op knees once the wound has healed (it’s toxic in an open wound). I find that patient’s recover more rapidly apparently from moving the the post op inflammatory fluid from the knee. Massaging the knee from below the area of swelling to above it is also part of my routine.

This is vanity, but castor oil is also good for eyelashes. I use waterproof mascara nearly everyday and castor oil, put on at night with a q tip, every so often, is a good way to keep them conditioned. As a runner, I appreciate hearing about how it can be used for athletic injuries. Keep up the good work, PF!

Can castor oil be swallowed instead of placed directly on knees? Are there any benefits towards relieving arthritis via swallowing it?

Castor oil is a pretty strong laxative, so you won’t want to swallow it instead of rubbing it on.

Has anyone tried castor oil for back pain, if so what were the results?

I had a sore on my face for weeks and was dealing with my sister’s illness so I didn’t have time to take proper care of it. I became concerned and so I bought some Palma Christi Castor Oil recommended by Edgar Cayce. I put a few drops on my face rubbed it in and I promise you this is true – next morning it was completely gone.

Please, folks out there, consider Palma Christi Castor Oil when purchasing a brand. It is Hexane-free and certified. You are welcome to look up Edgar Cayce and his recommendation on Castor Oil. Thank you!

I pulled a calf muscle a few weeks ago while jogging. I was used to using Dr. Christopher products to take away the muscle pain and heal quickly. I love his products but didn’t seem to work this time.The dog came into my head to try castor oil. Are used to put it on my liver at night and wake up feeling much better the next day. So I put it on my calf muscle and it completely healed within three days. I went running on it and do not have a problem with it at all. I really love the stuff.

I must say I am flabbergasted!!! I have castor oil but never thought about using it for knee pain. I did last night and WOW. No pain. I have had knee pain from sciatica for 2 yrs, I will continue using it until ……
Thank you for putting up this information
God Bless all.

Will castor eliminate skin tags as it does warts?

Read the article. Found this useful. I wanted to know if I could use this during the day and not night.

What brand of castor oil can I buy over the counter?

For the lady who used the castor oil packs for liver cancer, did you apply them directly on the liver. Thank you

When in the service I had water on the knee, I’d use a rub then wrap it in a warm damp towel overnight. To keep the bed dry I had a trash bag I had put a hole through the bottom of for my foot to go through and slid it up my leg. I suspect the same would work to protect the bed from the castor oil wrap.

I found using castor poil on swollen hemmorids takes the pain and swelling !way quickly. Now I have a knee pain I am going to try it

My mother was always ahead of her time with “everything”. She was a vegetarian all her life of 88 yrs., did yoga for 55 yrs (before its popularity) and read Edgar Casey and became a fan of castor oil immediately. I have recently had unexplained extreme pain in knee area and shoulder. Blood tests ruled out lupus and lymes (had tick bite last year) but showed inflammation only. Rheumatologist recommended but I chose the castor oil route instead and improvement within a few days. Could not stand or walk without knee brace and cane, now nothing….RIP Mom

I had a knee problem for months after popping it playing basketball. Some days worse than others but I could feel pain and discomfort daily. Knee supports and pain creams did nothing. Then I read a book by Edgar Casey, he keeps talking about castor oil and it’s many different applications in health. So I bought the best I could and rubbed some on my knee. That was two mornings ago. Today I am not wearing a knee support and my knee feels fine. All I did was rub it into my knee directly for one day. The pain has gone and so has the clicking and popping. No wonder they call this plant the ‘Hand of Jesus’!! I am not that religious bTw.

Thanks for sharing.As I also have a knee problem I am going to give it a try

Fantastic & Beneficial!
Sharing such a valuable treasure like wisdom is also a way to serve Humankind
. ~ Salvation

Fantastic & Beneficial!
Sharing such a valuable treasure like wisdom is also a way to serve Humankind.

This reminds me of my early childhood in India when mother was rubbing us all siblings with castor oil to massage specially on the legs & feet. I will start rub on on my painful legs & feet.

I found this conversation so much interesting, so much intensive eye-opening & beneficial.

I have foot & leg injury & have arthritis. Started caster oil therapy intensively since two days & already beginning to sense positive results.

~ Salvation

Do you sugguest I use the castiva warming when wrappiing my knee or just get regular castor oil?

Purchased castor oil and turpentine as I have had knee surgery and my other knee has started having pain, due to overcompensation. Going to try on the uninjured knee to see if pain goes away. Will post update.

Stumbled onto this site while being wakeful from extremely painful knee and back pain of 18 mos. duration. Very willing to learn of non medical solutions.

I am quit impressed. Will it work for lower back pain which I am having for many years?

I will try

I had a ten year old knee injury that never got surgery and hurt all the time. I recently re-injured it and could barely walk. A friend recommended castor oil so i tried it. After 3 applications my injured leg feels better than the uninjured one! I love castor oil…

My husband has been working in carpentry/painting/plumbing, etc for years and his hands ache afterwards. Has a family history of arthritis as well. I massage his hands with castor oil and it works like a charm. Pain gone. Movement re-established. waalaa.

I read this article which makes me a bit leery about trying the Castor Oil. I appreciate that it works so well for so many people, but those who have not tried it before, might want to read this article before making the final decision. I have suffered with joint pain and was so hoping this would be my magic pill, but I also have had colon cancer and suffer from colitis as well. Just want to be sure this is something that won’t affect any of these problems since the castor oil does soak into the skin, as I have read in the comments.
Any suggestions or help with this would be appreciated
Here is the link:

Like everything else you have to use this oil with caution. I just read about the oil for knee pain and started last night. I have tried just about everything else, I will try for 3 nights and report back.

Castor oil: I use it regularly, as it entirely suppresses the pain of an arthritis joint, and enables me to play a stringed instrument. I use it also in an area beneath my knee, as it eliminates for days or longer the pain of medial meniscus tears (in my case), which are aggravated by squatting and weeding on my knees. I use it also on an ankle with chronic tendonitis: it makes the ache go away after 1-2 treatments, and suppresses it for many days. I simply place it (see method below) so as to be centered on the area of greatest pain.
How to apply it? I take a large bandaid pad (from a drugstore or Walgreens brand), these being about 2 inches by 3 inches, saturate it with a good amount, spreading it edge to edge, then apply it to the area. It sticks fast, even if the oil goes right up to the edge of the adhesive. I leave it in place about 18 hours. This works better for me than simply massage with oil.
I began reading about castor oil after I learned through a news report on TV that a member of the US Ski Team had used it to ameliorate an injury from falling on the slopes, enabling her to return to the racing days later. Her PT had recommended it, I believe.
This treatment has been a miracle for me, after months of PT and visits to the doctor did little good. My husband gets the same excellent benefits for something akin to tennis elbow.

I use Castor Oil to treat Plantar Fascaitis. Put the affected foot across the opposite knee, pull the toes back to expose the tendon that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot. Apply castor oil to the sore part of the heel and massage the tendon with as much pressure as can be tolerated ( the harder the better ). Tha castor oil lubricates the area being massaged and works some magic on the inside as well.

After I wrote my comments about how using castor oil externally helped my husband’s knee, I had a pharmacy tech at Target order 2 tubes of Castiva with CAPSAISIN. They arrived the next day. At about $10, it is well worth it. (I do not own any or am I connected to Castiva’s manufacturers.)
Castor oil must be rubbed onto the skin. A doctor in Springfield, MO explains that castor oil reduces inflammation, among other things.)
A friend’s husband had awful knees. She applied the oil at night, as per instructions, and used Castiva during the day, because it would not stain clothes, as castor oil will not wash out completely. She told us that her husband’s knees improved greatly. She told her sister about castol oil, etc., and her knees were improved.
It might not help everyone, but, hey, a bottle costs less than $5.00, and an old rag and zippy-bag costs little to nothing.

Cherry, In Germany it was used as a laxative. It’s thick and sticky, be hard to swallow!

My father overheard a man in line at the pharmacy ask for cod liver oil caps to take for knee problems. Since Daddy had had knee pain for years after a car accident, he decided to try cod liver oil daily. It worked for him; he took it for the rest of his life, one a day, I think.

I am definitely going to try this. I will let you know how it goes :)

Used castor oil packs with heating pad after I had shoulder surgery a few years back. It worked really well at easing the pain.

wonder if it’d help with eczema/psoriasis?

When I was growing up my family had milk cows. One young cow had warts on her teats. My Dad said I could have the cow if I could cure the warts. He gave me a bottle of Castor Oil and told me to apply it daily. I did so for about a month and the warts disappeared so I got to claim the cow as my own

I have always been a fan of Edgar Cayce from Virginia Beach and he always talked about the castor oil packs. I wonder if they would work on idiopathic incontinence??

As a kid, my grandfather used it regularly for colds, he swore that it was ‘good for what ails you’. We took if by the tablespoon full, he took the whole glass full. As a maintenance man, I noted many of the engineers used Castor oil as a lubricant.

What about ingesting it? Can taking a castor oil supplement also work for painful joints and bruises?

I have never used caster oil on my knees, but going to try it. It won’t hurt.

There is an old book called Folk Medicine by D.C. Jarvis, MD. Based on Vermont folk medicine, it was first published in 1958, and the 4th printing was in 1985. It includes info about apple cider vinegar, honey, and includes a chapter on many uses for castor oil. I found a used copy on the internet. He mentions the use of a drop of castor oil in the eye for irritation, which I have tried. When I used Restasis for dry eye, I looked up the of the inactive ingredients is castor oil! I’m sure Dr. Jarvis, who lived from 1881-1966, would be amused that Dr. Oz on his 2013 TV show is talking about the use of vinegar.
Christiane Northrup MD mentions castor oil packs for menstrual cramps in her best selling book for women. I have also found that rubbing castor oil into the tops of your hands at night lightens the brown spots.

Graedon’s, could you find any science on this and do you know of any theoretical reason why it might work. I am not a skeptic, just trying to learn more.
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: We haven’t seen any science yet, but we’ll keep looking.

I would like to hear what people have to say. I think I may buy some castor oil to have on hand!

I cannot take aspirin products due to a kidney transplant. I bruise VERY easily (from the meds I take) and my knees are starting to ‘go.’ Can I use the Castor Oil remedies?

Does the Castiva stain?
Not as far as we know. Give it a go and let us know!

I use olive oil (very liberally) and it’s not greasy or messy, soaks right in. After showers, slather all over, makes nice, clearer skin, clears psorious, after yard work rub and massage knees liberally. With olive oil and glucosomine I really don’t hurt. I’m 74 and most of my friends are having knee replacements!

Doing a lot of outside work, I’ve used Castor Oil for bruises, especially on the back of my hands. While not a controlled study, it seemed to help heal faster than what I thought as normal healing without treatment of any type.

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