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Castor Oil Packs for Fibroids: Do They Really Work?

Should you try castor oil packs for fibroids? Our fibroid specialists review the evidence for this common at-home fibroid remedy to see if they really work.

Woman using castor oil packs for fibroids

Uterine fibroids are a genetic condition that affect millions of women around the world. Despite serious symptoms, many women are reluctant to manage their fibroids with prescription medications, and even more are reluctant to undergo surgery to rid themselves of their fibroids. As a consequence, more and more women are turning to natural remedies. In recent years, castor oil packs have emerged amongst homeopaths and alternative medicine enthusiasts as a natural cure for fibroids that could potentially prevent fibroid growth and relieve fibroid symptoms, and in some cases, women swear by this remedy.

Being the fibroid specialists that we are, we spent some time reviewing the evidence for castor oil packs and fibroids. We reviewed the medical literature and a number of very interesting websites that offered castor oil as a therapeutic option for curing and shrinking fibroids, looking at everything with the same standard for medical evidence that we apply to the treatments that we prescribe routinely here at ProFibroidMD.

The short version of this story is that we came back with very little (zero) evidence that castor oil has any curative effect on uterine fibroids. This does not necessarily mean that the remedy is entirely useless, but with the current state of medical evidence around castor oil (or lack thereof, more accurately), it is unlikely that castor oil is providing the benefit that its users are hoping for. We explain more about castor oil below and why medical evidence is so important when it comes to your medical decisions and your health.

Fibroid Specialist Dr. Michael Lalezarian

Fibroid Relief Without Surgery in Los Angeles

ProFibroidMD is a leading provider of uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), the least invasive treatment option for uterine fibroid symptom relief. Our Fibroid Specialists have helped countless women overcome their fibroids and get back to their happy, healthy selves without going through a major surgery.

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Castor Oil Packs for Fibroids Explained

Castor oil is a thick, odorless oil made from the seeds of the castor plant. Castor oil packs are made by soaking a cloth in warm castor oil and placing it on the abdomen, sometimes with heat packs. How to use them, when to use them, how often, and the duration of application of castor oil packs varies from website to website. It’s extremely common for women to apply heat to their abdomen to soothe abdominal pain, during menstrual cramps for example, so it’s very likely that the castor oil packs have the same short-term soothing effect as a topical hot water bottle or a heated corn pillow when applied over fibroid pain.

Because it contains ricinoleic acid, castor oil is said to have anti-inflammatory effects when applied to the skin. Castor oil packs have become a favorite homemade remedy for a variety of ailments including fibroids, wound healing, and scalp health, but rigorous clinical evidence for any of these applications is entirely absent. We do know of one study done in Turkey in 2011 that showed that castor oil packs might be beneficial for constipation when combined with heat packs, and that castor oil may increase circulation and lymphatic flow when placed topically on the abdomen. This pathway has been identified by some natural medicine promoters as the reason that castor oil packs can help with fibroids, but again, this loose theory hasn’t been studied or tested with any scientific rigor.

Castor oil in bottle surrounded by castor plants and castor seeds
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Castor Oil Packs for Fibroids: Where’s the Evidence?

Our discussion so far has focused heavily on the lack of clinical evidence for the use of castor oil packs to treat fibroids. Not surprisingly, other popular natural remedies and cure alls like apple cider vinegar and milk thistle fall into the same camp as castor oil packs when it comes to a lack of clinical evidence.

Evidence-based medicine has long been used by physicians, regulators, and insurers to make informed decisions about what medical therapies are safe and effective. Virtually every medical treatment used today has had to go through rigorous clinical testing in a large population of human subjects under scientifically controlled conditions, and often new therapies must prove to be equivalent or better than those that came before it to win the favor of healthcare professionals. For fibroids, the standards for care have been set by medical, surgical, and minimally invasive approaches, and until there’s sufficient evidence to support natural remedies, natural remedies will (and should) continue to be an afterthought for anyone serious about treating fibroids.

Cynics of western medicine can be quick to dismiss evidence-based medicine as a rich-get-richer system designed for big pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare profiteers, but these individuals would benefit to know that thousands of clinical studies on natural remedies, dietary changes, and lifestyle hacks are ongoing all around the world to identify more affordable and accessible ways to fight common ailments and to help patients live healthier, happier lives. For example, researchers have looked at the effects of over-the-counter oral vitamin D supplements in women with fibroids and found that they may effectively shrink fibroids in women that are vitamin D deficient. The study did not comment on whether or not vitamin D supplementation alone was sufficient to ‘cure’ fibroid symptoms in its subjects. All of this is to say that medicine would certainly benefit from more researchers putting scientific rigor to alternative therapies, natural remedies, and affordable over-the-counter supplements.

Fibroid doctor researching castor oil fibroid therapy evidence
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Conclusion: Is Castor Oil Fibroid Treatment Effective?

Is castor oil fibroid therapy effective? The most honest answer we can give is that we don’t know, but if we had to bet on it we would say that it’s very unlikely that castor oil packs have any long-term effect on fibroids. Heat packs placed over the abdomen can certainly help to alleviate abdominal pain and may therefore help with fibroid pain, but this is probably the extent of the therapeutic benefit. In any case, women attempting to use castor oil packs for their fibroids should know that proper medical research has not been conducted on this approach, and while castor oil is unlikely to cause negative health effects when used in moderation, waiting for it to take effect may indefinitely prolong your journey to finding real fibroid relief.

As fibroid specialists, we truly wish that women had more options when it comes to fibroids, but the complete lack of clinical evidence should make women very skeptical about whether or not natural remedies like castor oil packs have any effect at all on their fibroids. This is not to discourage women from trying them or pursuing healthy habits, but to encourage women to be realistic about their usefulness when it comes to fibroids, especially compared to tried and true treatment methods like uterine artery embolization. If you’re seeking immediate relief from your fibroids, you may want to consider seeing a specialist about a clinically proven approach. At ProFibroidMD, we’re here to help you navigate your options.

More Resources
Woman discussing surgical vs. non-surgical fibroid treatment options with Fibroid Specialist
Surgical vs. Non-Surgical Fibroid Treatments: Which Is Best?

When it comes to fibroid treatment, we believe that less is more. A less invasive procedure means less trauma, less risk, and shorter recovery time. Learn more about why we opt for UFE, the least invasive treatment for uterine fibroids.

Uterine artery embolization
Uterine Artery Embolization
Uterine artery embolization is a minimally-invasive procedure that we offer at ProFibroidMD to relieve heavy bleeding, pain, and other symptoms in patients with uterine fibroids. Learn more about our specialty procedure.
Fibroid Specialist in Los Angeles
Fibroid Specialist in Los Angeles
Learn more about Los Angeles Fibroid Specialist Dr. Michael Lalezarian.
References

[1] Dr. Axe: “Fibroids”
[2] Arsalana, G.G., Eser, I. (2011) An examination of the effect of castor oil packs on constipation in the elderly. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 17:58-62.
[3] Hajhashemi, M.; Ansari, M.; Haghollahi, F.; Eslami, B. The effect of vitamin D supplementation on the size of uterine leiomyoma in women with vitamin D deficiency. Caspian J. Intern. Med. 2019, 10, 125–131.

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