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The Forgotten Ancient Detox Oil

The Forgotten Ancient Detox Oil - What is Castor Oil used For

The Forgotten Ancient Detox Oil

By Scott Collins BHSc Naturopathy

It’s from a love of natural medicine that I am always learning and searching for new insights from the natural world. I was chatting with a mentor, and we started talking about the benefits of Castor Oil as she had used it in detoxification. Ironically the topic came up again in conversation with friend, this time she was using it as eye drops to prevent her eyes drying out, as she was trying to prevent glaucoma.

From knowing very little about Castor Oil, I was about to embark on a journey to discover more. Fascinated by the ancient world, they seem to have a knowing as to how to the use plants and oils therapeutically. Much of what we do in the modern era has it roots in antiquity, harnessing the power of plants well before the pharmaceutical age.

From its roots in Ancient Egypt evidence of castor oils therapeutic use was found in tombs 4000 years ago. In the 1800’s it was peddled as a cure all by travelling medicine men. Today this ancient oil is used to aid hair growth, to assist with constipation and detoxification.

Castor Oil has a long historical significance as a natural medicine and today is one of the world’s most important economic industrial oils and yet I have never used it in my 15-year career. I became curious about castor oil and its uses, I simply wanted to know more. Thus, begun my hunt to find evidence for its uses and how it worked?

What is Castor Oil?

Castor oil is a natural plant-based seed oil, whereby the oil is cold press extracted from the seed / bean of the castor plant (Ricinus communis).

What is Castor Oil Good For?

  • Cleansing The Bowel – traditionally used as laxative it has also been consumed to promote purging after food poisoning.
  • Inducing labor (never try this at home, seek medical attention)
  • Castor Oil for Hair Growth – castor oil for hair is a popular natural remedy to help restore growth due to its vitamin E content. (Mix with coconut oil and apply to the scalp)
  • Removal of corns (softens them to be exfoliated)
  • Softening the skin
  • Skin conditions (Bolaji, et al, ISJR, 2319-7064, 2012)
  • Menstrual cramping especially with fibroids (warm packs)
  • Warm Castor Oil Packs for elimination (a combination of cotton gauss soaked in castor oil, applied topically to the abdomen). A cotton gauze soaked in oil is placed over the liver and left in place for an hour for a total of 2 days. (see the instructions below)

What Else is Castor Oil used For? 

  • Removal of warts
  • Food additives, flavouring and mould inhibitor   
  • Animal feed (castor meal and husk)
  • Fertilizer
  • Cosmetics
  • Biodiesel / Fuel

What’s in Castor Oil?

  • Iodine
  • Ricinoleic acid  (90%) – which is suspected to act as a laxative on the bowel.
  • Omega 9’s
  • Omega 6’s
  • Natural Vitamin E Content
  • Carotenoids (antioxidant)

Castor Oil Benefits

  • Castor oil may assist in relieving inflammation and pain associated with arthritis. (S, Roopa and Dr M, Missiriya, IJIRT 142591, 2015)
  • As a laxative, castor oil which is considered safe and effective according to researchers. (Ganginella et al, HYTOTHERAPY RESEARCH, VOL. 12, S128–S130, 1998) Always see your health professional before gulping down a heap of castor oil.
  • Castor Oil may be of benefit to dry eyes and blepharitis. (C, Maissa et al, Contact Lens & Anterior Eye 33(2):76-82, 2009) – when used as drops.
  • Warm castor Oil packs applied topically to the fibroid may assist in reducing Uterine Fibroids as part of meditative visualization practice. (A, Warshowsky, Integrative Medicine 4th Edition 2018)

Castor Oil Packs for Detoxification

Edgar Cayce and The Use of Castor Oil Packs

The famed 1900’s psychic Edgar Cayce who delivered over 15000 readings would often prescribe castor oil packs (see below) frequently to assist in returning the body to health. He grew in fame throughout the USA and in most cases would prescribe Castor Oil Packs for many ailments. Many natural health strategies today focus on also detoxification using castor oil packs.

Dr Bernard Jensen refers to “Auto-intoxication” or poisoning from within, and the importance of proper elimination from within especially the bowel as essential to health. Over a lifetime we eat less than ideal foods, be exposed to environmental toxins and live with stress, which can contribute to a body burden of toxins.

M.D. William McGary sought the use of castor oil as he called it a “Remarkable Substance” and was fascinated by its use as an aid for elimination and healing. 

How to Make a Castor Oil Packs

Castor oil packs are a great way to give yourself some self-care and self-loving plus it’s so easy to do. As we mentioned earlier it’s best to avoid using castor oil if you are pregnant. Once you have made your Castor Oil Pack, simply place it on the body (see below for more details). I have laid out two different Castor Oil Packs to try.

Double D-Tox Oil Pack (Bentonite Clay and Castor Oil Together)

In this example we’re going to mix Grasses of Life Calcium Bentonite Clay with Organic Castor Oil make a Detox Body Wrap or Detox Face Mask!

What you’ll need:

  • A cup of Grasses of Life Calcium Bentonite Clay
  • 2 Cups of filtered water
  • 3 Tablespoons of Organic Castor Oil
  • A sealable container

Method: We’re going to start by adding water to the Calcium BentoniteClay placing 1 cup of Calcium Bentonite Clay into a plastic container with 2 cups of water then sealing the lid. Next, shake vigorously to mix together and reducing lumpiness.

The next thing to do is add the 3 tablespoons of organic castor oil and stir through thoroughly. Allow the final mix to sit for an hour, it will swell and become deliciously creamy.

Applying to the body: Apply a small amount of the mix to the skin (patch test first), then apply liberally to the abdomen over your liver region. Find a nice place to relax on an old towel and leave in place for around 30minutes.  Tip: It’s best applied to warm skin after a shower.

Castor Oil Pack

Essentially we’re infusing cloth with Organic Castor Oil placing it over liver. You’ll find many recipes and videos on how to make Castor Oil Packs, we’ve put together a quick version.

What you’ll need:

  • Organic Castor Oil
  • Cotton Flannel – this can be reused, so don’t throw it away.
  • Hot water bottle or heating pad.
  • Glass container with lid
  • Small towel

Method: Start by cutting the cotton flannel into the size of the area you wish to cover, next placing the cotton flannel in the container and soak with castor oil.

The cotton flannel should be well soaked and shouldn’t drip. It’s always wise to place a heavy towel or even a plastic sheet under your body to avoid mess.

Find a quiet place to lay down for an hour or two and place the castor-soaked flannel onto the skin (over the liver region or wherever it is needed), now wrap the hot water bottle in the small towel and place it on top of the cotton-soaked flannel.  It’s suggested to leave the Castor Oil Pack in place for minimum of 30minutes and a maximum of 2 hours.

Be sure to warm up the hot water bottle for when you need it. When you are done place the cotton flannel in the glass container and seal. You can use it up to 25 times. It always a good idea to use old sheets, towel and clothing as castor oil will stain them.             

Watch the video tutorial here.

What to Expect from a Castor Oil Pack?

Researchers suggest that Castor Oil Packs work via the lymphatic system where they aid in the reduction of inflammation. Lymphocytes help protect the body against pathogens and toxins. (A, Warshowsky, Integrative Medicine 4th Edition 2018)

What is apparent is the lack of understanding as to how castor oil work to aid detoxification. In the book, Oils That Heal: A Physicians Success with castor oil Treatments the author states how Edgar Cayce used castor oil to:

  • Increase elimination
  • Stimulate the liver
  • Dissolve and remove adhesions
  • Relieve constipation
  • Stimulate the gall bladder

The author, M.D. McGarey, William A (1993), would often use Castor Oil Packs for liver and gall bladder conditions.

There has been much written regarding Castor Oil Packs, providing the writer with broader view of its use in detoxification and personal care.

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The Essential Mineral You Can’t Live Without?

Magnesium Benefits

The Essential Mineral You Can’t Live Without?

Scott Collins BHSc Naturopathy founder Grasses of Life Super Foods

As a naturopath, we’re taught to examine the biochemical role of nutrients and the implications that deficiencies have on the whole body.

I often feel the mineral story is one in which doesn’t get enough attention or a priority in nutritional medicine. Even more interesting is that we live in an age where there are still people who are mineral deficient in western societies.

This is a story about the metallic mineral Magnesium, and magnesium’s role in the body. It’s an amazing tale. It’s probably not something that most would consider, yet the role of this single mineral is required for hundreds of biochemical reactions and without it there are significant implications. To give you an idea of its importance, Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the body and is the 2nd most abundant intracellularly.      

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential electrolyte which has many important cellular functions unfortunately we’re still seeing parts of society that are magnesium deficient in the 21st century. It’s quite common for those with diets higher in energy dense, low nutrient, low fibre foods being predisposed to preventable illness. As such diets that are high in refined cereal flours contain very little magnesium. (www.abs.gov.au, 2005)

Diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis are associated with poor intakes of magnesium. Magnesium supports healthy DNA, enzyme reactions, bone mineralization, hormone signaling, cell membrane transport, cell walls, blood clotting, reducing platelet aggregation, muscle contraction and energy production.

So why we are seeing a Magnesium deficiency?

It’s been estimated that a majority of western nations consume less than the recommended daily intakes of magnesium. (A, Alawi, et al, Int J of Endocrinology, 2018 Article ID 9041694)

Changes in how food is processed, plus food technologies and how it’s grown are factors as to why we’re seeing declining magnesium levels in our food chain.

The more a food has been altered or processed, even how it’s been stored and handled will reduce the magnesium levels by up to 85% with further loses just by boiling foods. (R, Swaminathan, 2003, Clin Biochem Rev, 24(2): 47-66)

Consuming foods grown in deficient soils and drinking demineralized water also contribute to these declining states of nutrient wellbeing. (A, Alawi, et al, Int J of Endocrinology, 2018 Article ID 9041694)

Magnesium deficiency is not well recognized or is it even effectively detected in people, as serum blood magnesium levels typically do not reflect the actual magnesium stores within the body. (M, Razzaque, 2018, Nutrients, 10, 1863)

Magnesium Rich Foods

  • Whole grain cereals (wheat bran and wheat germ)
  • Green leafy vegies (Spinach, Silver beet and Cauliflower)
  • Wheat Grass
  • Nuts (Almonds, Hazel, Brazil and Cashews) / Seeds (sunflower)

Where is Magnesium Found in the body?

50-60% of Magnesium is found in the bones, it is believed magnesium is deposited into bone during the formation of bone aiding mineralization.         

Why Are There Different Types of Magnesium?

We know that inorganic magnesium is absorbed better than organic magnesium. Authors Kappeller et al, (BMC Nutrition, 2017, 3:7) looked the absorption of various types of magnesium measuring urinary output and found that Magnesium Citrate (inorganic) was more readily absorbed than other forms. You’ll notice that many magnesium products will have different forms of magnesium to aid absorption.

What are the Different Types of Magnesium?

  • Magnesium Citrate – is a form of magnesium bound to citric acid
  • Magnesium Diglycinate – is magnesium as the magnesium salt glycine
  • Magnesium Orotate – is magnesium bound to orotic acid
  • Magnesium Chloride – is magnesium bound to chloride salt
  • Magnesium Ascorbate – is magnesium bound to vitamin C or a buffered form of vitamin C

So, what are the Magnesium Deficiency Signs?

  • Muscle cramps
  • Eclampsia in pregnancy
  • Hypokalemia
  • Cardiac arrythmia
  • Symptoms of Low Magnesium will vary from person to person.
  • Weakness and Fatigue
  • Sleepiness
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Overweight & Obesity
  • Inflammation, Elevated C-Reactive Protein, Cardiac Events and Metabolic Syndrome (F, Nielsen, J Inflamm Res, 2018, 11:25-34)

People often ask what causes low magnesium:

  • Poor gut health
  • Stress
  • Consuming processed foods
  • Some medications
  • Excess alcohol
  • Diet (lack of food and poor choices)

More Magnesium Facts:

  • Magnesium makes up 0.08-0.05mmol/l of saliva
  • Magnesium absorption in the distal jejunum is 30-60%
  • Circulating magnesium is re-absorbed by the kidneys
  • Magnesium is required for fat metabolism
  • 64% of the body’s magnesium is found in the bones, 40% of the body’s magnesium is found intracellularly and 1% in the blood
  • Protein, Fiber, Fructose, Oligosaccharides, Vitamin D may help magnesium absorption

How to Improve Magnesium Intake

When it comes to nutrition choice is everything! It can be challenging to get the best food dependent on where you are located, but you can choose unprocessed foods. You may even consider supplementing with minerals and a super greens food. Vitamin D consumption alongside magnesium rich foods or supplementation can increase the absorption of magnesium. 

Quick Tips:

  • Choosing organic
  • Choosing to buy local where possible
  • Avoiding processed foods / Processed Sugar
  • Foods with preservatives
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Snap frozen veggies (found in the freezer section of your supermarket)

See our next article Magnesium’s Role in Detoxification (for October 2021)

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Pre-biotics Vs Pro-biotics, What’s the Difference and Why Do I Need Them Both?

Prebiotics Vs Probiotic, Why You need Them Both

So, what is the difference between a Prebiotic and a Probiotic?

It’s an important distinction to make, especially when it comes to improving gut health naturally. Probiotic and prebiotics are substances that are consumed which help to maintain a healthy gut.

Often through poor diet, processed foods, alcohol, smoking, some medications and stress, the gut flora can be upset and even die off.  When this happens, Prebiotic and Probiotics are commonly used to restore the delicate gut flora or biome back into balance. When good or beneficial bacteria are abundant the gut environment is healthier and happier.

Prebiotics are dietary fibers that act as a foods source for beneficial gut bacteria to help them proliferate or grow. Healthy prebiotic fibers like slippery elm, aloe vera juice micro pulp, plus resistant starches like Green Banana Starch and Inulin all are used as food by the gut. Prebiotic fibers tend to bypass digestion in the stomach and make it down to the bowel where they are broken down in the bowel.

Probiotics or beneficial bacteria are live bacteria that co-exist with a host (the human gut) that have beneficial health effects.  Probiotic bacteria function to maintain an ecological balance over bad bacteria assisting the immune system and produce vitamins such as Vitamin K and Folate, B1, B2, B6 and B12.

In a work full of toxins and chemicals, giving the body prebiotic fibers plus probiotic could be a wise strategy for great gut health. What is your body telling you? Do you have signs of poor gut health?

Prebiotic Foods prebiotic fibre prebiotic supplement
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The Forgotten Deadly Toxin

DDT The Forgotten Deadly Toxin

In the early part of the 20th century science was surging ahead with the creation of brand-new chemical compounds. Although invented in 1874 a discovery was made that would affect the world forever and it began its deadly rising in the mid 1930’s.

It was dubbed the miracle compound! Swiss scientists were excited about this new chemical’s ability to kill pests without harming humans or mammals, so they thought. By late 1943 during WWII, both British and US companies were producing huge quantities to meet the demands of war. It was desperately needed to fight infestations of disease-causing pests. The rush to use this chemical during war led to widespread post war use of this infamous chemical.

If you haven’t guessed it, it’s called DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro-ethane)!

Once hailed as a miracle, it became all too clear that it was persistent, even after cleaning surfaces where it had been previously sprayed. Scientists soon discovered that DDT isn’t water soluble but will only break down in fat and be stored in fats.

So, which means if it’s  stored and concentrated in the fat of all of us?  Exposure is most likely to be from our food chain, like animal products and fish or contaminated products from countries still using DDT. Scarily DDT will even pass to foetuses during pregnancy.

So, what does DDT do to the Human Body?

Well, the effects are quite vast in nature, and is dependent on exposure. People who have lived longer may have more accumulation compared to a newborn. DDT is broken slowly down and metabolized into metabolites DDE and DDE (which are broken from DDT) in the body.

  • Liver – has been known to affect liver cellular health.
  • Neurological Health – Tremors, convulsions, vision problems, poor cognition and may affect neurological development
  • Reproductive System – decreased male reproductive tissues, decreased prostate weight, decreased fertility in male offspring, decreased fertility in female offspring, decreased birth weights.
  • Immune System – suppression and stimulation of immune system responses (reduced immune response).
  • Cancer – the liver appears to be the primary cancer target for DDT and its metabolites.

Sources: CDC, December 2019, Toxicological Profile for DDT, DDE, and DDD

The CDC looked at DDT levels in human populations from the 1970’s and found that more recent levels were 5-10 times lower than the 70’s and most people had detectable DDE (more toxic metabolite of DDT).

The concern with DDT and similar compounds is that they are persistent in the environment and are thus called Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP’s). Consider them as almost forever chemicals that concentrate up in the food chain.  The World Health Organisation indicates that 90% of DDT stored in the general population is primarily sourced from our food.

It takes approximately 8 years for DDT to reduce by half once in the fats of animals and humans once exposed.

It’s a fact of modern life, that we’re surrounded by all kinds of compounds and toxicants.  DDT was banned in the 1970’s yet is still present in all living mammals, 50 years later. The reason DDT was banned was due to its lack of biodegradability, fat solubility, and toxicity to beneficial insects while chemical resistance by bad pests.

So, if you haven’t asked it yet, your next question should be where to from here?

Let’s talk Detox!

Compounds like DDT are not easy to detoxify from the body, so it’s important to consume the best clean nutrition possible and add some key nutrients to the diet. Let’s face it toxicants are here to stay in our industrialised techno age. It’s time to be proactive and consider a strategic detox. There are more chemical compounds being used now than any other time in human history and it’s showing.

Organochlorine pesticides like DDT, place pressure on specific liver detoxification enzymes, however when adequate vitamin C levels were present it aided the metabolism (detoxification). DDT toxicity increased the requirements for vitamin C. (Street and Chadwick, 1975) It might be old research, but very relevant as DDT was more prevalent in the community at that time. Today we can still experience exposure from old sources of DDT and new ones today.

The liver requires help other than vitamin C to eliminate toxicants from the body. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is specifically required for many antioxidant reactions and plays a key role in enzyme activity.

Next is to choose your poison, literally!

The foods you choose each day can impact the exposure to DDT and other Organochloride compounds.

  • Avoiding fast foods
  • Processed foods, like confectionary, pizza, cured meats,
  • Avoiding some dairy products
  • Some farmed fish
  • Avoiding non organic foods
  • Imported Foods – Toxin levels differ country from to country as to the varying levels found in different types of food. By choosing clean non sprayed or organics foods is the best way to avoid potential agricultural toxins.

Chlorophyll has long been considered a blood purifier. Authors Crinion and Pizzorno 2018, cite that Chlorophyll to be effective at increasing faecal clearance of persistent chemical pollutants from the body. Chlorophyll is whats makes plants green, like green leafy plants and super greens.

Movement / Sweating – The use of saunas has been reported to increase the elimination of POP’s like DDT by increasing mobilisation from the tissues as sweat. Physical exercise can also be of benefit when combined in a regimen with regular saunas. It is also important to maintain adequate water balance with electrolytes and minerals due to fluid losses. (please check with your doctor as some people may not be ok to do saunas).

Liver Detoxification – We also want to give the liver a helping hand. There are foods and nutrients that are well suited to supporting how the liver detoxifies.

  • Magnesium, assists through supporting key enzymatic detoxification processes
  • Amino Acid Conjugation Reactions: Amino acids have a crucial role in environmental toxin elimination. Particularly Glycine and Taurine, which are found in meats and fish and in super greens grasses like barley grass. As a side note Barley Grass naturally contains all 8 essential amino acids required for life.
  • Vitamin B3 and Iodine are necessary for phase I liver detoxification (phase I makes toxins even more toxic so they can be metabolised by phase II detoxification).
  • Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Turmeric, Dandelion Root and Rosemary can be of assistance to liver by aiding a process called phase II liver detoxification by making toxins water soluble ready for excretion.  

Antioxidants

  • Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) is a powerful protecting antioxidant enzyme, which has been shown to be in reduced levels by DDT in the testis. Organic Green Barley Grass is natural source of SOD.  The antioxidant SOD is an extremely valuable nutrient for protecting against environmental toxins.
  • Glutathione is one the most powerful protecting antioxidants produced in the liver. Nearly all environmental toxins will reduce the body’s natural stores of Glutathione. The body requires the Amino Acid – N-Acetyl Cysteine and the mineral magnesium to make sufficient amounts of Glutathione.
  • Green Tea contains natural antioxidant compound called epigallocatechin gallate which has been shown in studies to have a protective effect against DDT induced cell injury and death.

Water Consumption – This goes without saying that the body needs water to help flush out toxins. Adding minerals rich with fulvic acid to water may also be of benefit when detoxifying the body.

In summary, we’re surrounded by environmental toxins with the major route of contamination primarily being our food, follow by water and air. Occupational exposure is also very possible depending on the type of industry or job. You can start to detox your life by choosing the cleanest foods possible and reducing exposure in the home by removing unnecessary chemicals, sprays, body care products and garden care products ect.

 Its important to note when assessing toxicants (or toxins made by man), it’s about the total toxic burden upon the body. The sum total of all environmental pollutants and chemicals that could be affecting your health such as heavy metals, water, food, home chemicals and environmental chemicals. For example you may have been brought up on a farm, or there were chemicals stored at home or you worked in a mechanical factory or have toxic plumbing in our home. A good environmental health professional will assess for hidden toxins that may really be the underlying reason of ill health. Ask your doctor or health professional about  toxicological testing that’s available like heavy metal scanning and pesticide residue testing. You never know it could unlock what may be going on!