How I Use Herbs and Castor Oil To Treat My Knee Pain

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Castor oil pack topped with healing herbs is a powerful natural way to treat mild knee pain that results from soft tissue injury.

I’ve mentioned goldenrod and calendula before – my favorite healing/beauty herbs (see the post about eczema). These herbs are amazing on their own, and magnificent together.

At the moment I use them as compression together with castor oil on my hard-working yoga knees. This mix alleviates inflammations, and sore muscles & joints.

But note that the castor oil pack without the herbs is very efficient too.

The idea is to keep castor oil on a piece of cloth on the skin for at least an hour with a heat source to stimulate lymph and liver function. Unlike some “detox” methods, this is said to not have any negative side effects, and many people notice immediate better sleep, more energy, and clearing of skin symptoms.

CASTOR OIL can relieve many conditions. It is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal, and castor oil is widely used topically, to treat a variety of painful conditions like arthritis, sciatica and back pain. Many people with recurring knee injuries and people, who suffer from the conditions above, swear by the efficacy of castor oil.

CALENDULA (or Marigold) is not only easy on the eye, it’s also a powerful antioxidant and is among the strongest of antimicrobial and antiviral herbs. And calendula has been found to have strong anti-inflammatory properties via powerful flavonoids. These plant-based antioxidants protect cells from free radical damage and pro-inflammatory compounds.
Crude extract of calendula flowers can also prevent and relax muscle spasms.


GOLDENROD (or Solidago) is an astringent herb and a strong decongestant; It contains a flavonoid called quercetin which acts as an antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. It’s also rich in the antioxidant compound rutin, whose benefits include strengthening blood vessels and promoting healthy circulation.

Goldenrod also supports the overall health of the kidneys and urinary tract by helping to remove harmful organisms, and because of this it’s also recommended for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

As a mild diaphoretic, Goldenrod helps to open up the pores and release heat through the skin.

Its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties make this herb extremely soothing.

How Effective Is Castor Oil For Knee Pain?

Many believe the high amounts of the unique fatty acid ricinoleic acid are responsible for the healing action of castor oil, and observational studies indicate that topical application of ricinoleic acid exerts remarkable analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.

In a 2011 clinical trial published in the An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda (AYU), castor oil was studied as part of a treatment program for 73 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In the 15-day study, the patients were given 30 to 40 ml of castor oil with hot water. After the study ended, researchers discovered that joint pain improved by more than 50% and joint stiffness decreased by over 48%. (1)

Science aside, I’ve found that when I add the herbal tea to the equation, the healing and soothing benefits max out.

How to make a castor oil pack

What you need for a herbal castor oil pack and how to go about making one!


How To Prepare:

  1. Make the tea. Boil 3 cups of water and let the herbs steep in it for about 5 min. Then strain.

  2. Take the cloth and soak it in the warm herbal tea.

  3. Massage some castor oil on to your knee (or on the desired body part).

  4. Position the cloth on the sore knee. 

  5. Consider wrapping cellophane to get the most out of the tea/water and to prevent oil from spilling on to the sheets. Alternatively, you can use an old towel.

  6. You can now place the heating pack on top of this. I normally just wrap a big towel around.

  7. Leave on for up to 7 hours.

  8. Make sure to drink enough water and stay hydrated after doing this to support detox.

  9. This castor oil wrap for knee pain can provide long lasting relief. 

TIP: You can repeat step 4 several times to get the most out of the warm herbs.

How Does The Castor Oil Pack Work?

Castor oil packs usually increase the number of lymphocytes. The T-cell is a type of lymphocyte that helps increase cell-mediated immunity. The castor oil pack increases the total T-cell count within a 24-hour period. Lymphocytes usually defend the body, creating antibodies for pathogens and toxins.

T-cells are a type of white blood cells, designed to repel disease. The T-cell identifies and kills viruses, bacteria, fungi and in some cases even cancer cells. Castor oil packs boost the healing of injuries sustained. (1)

Castor Oil Side Effects and Considerations

Always test any new oil (or any substance) on a small part of your arm before using on a larger area of the body.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deems castor oil as “generally regarded as safe and effective” in the U.S. However, castor oil is not without its possible side effects. The World Health Organization’s recommended dosage of castor oil is 0.7 mg per kg of body weight per day. Possible adverse effects from castor oil overdose include stomach pain, cramps, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and skin reactions.

The small intestine will break castor oil down into ricinoleic acid and it can irritate the intestinal lining, so castor oil is not recommended for people with irritable bowel syndrome, cramps, ulcers, hemorrhoids, colitis, or diverticulitis. Furthermore, castor oil may lead to nausea in pregnant women. It is also not recommended for nursing mothers.

And note that castor oil should always be applied to a wound, where the skin is not broken.

Before taking castor oil internally, consult with your doctor.

(1) Soni, A., et al., “Clinical evaluation of Vardhamana Pippali Rasayana in the management of Amavata (Rheumatoid Arthritis),” AYU, April to June, 2011; 32(2): 177-180.