It also demonstrates the hormesis effect (as does low-level radiation that I have written about in the past). Essentially, the hormesis effect demonstrates that In a therapeutic dosage, the substance in question cures; too much, however, kills.
Cayce referred frequently to massage as a treatment for a wide variety of physical ailments. And among the massages he recommended most often was one using castor oil as a lubricant. In his readings, Cayce also emphasized the importance of Peyer's patches: these are little known and little understood clumps of lymphatic tissue found in the small intestine. Cayce believed that the overall health of an individual is directly related to the health of these Peyer's patches. He stated on several occasions that a substance formed in these patches is necessary for maintaining the integrity of the nervous system. Cayce may have only “intuited” the relationship between Peyer’s patches, castor oil and health, but modern science shows that he was on the right track.
Conditions Responding to Castor Oil
Cayce was by no means the first health advocate for castor oil. The history of its usage as both a therapeutic and beautifying agent is as old as we have records. Cleopatra is said to have used it to brighten the whites of her eyes. It has been used in China for centuries as a medicine for both internal medicinal use as well as externally as an anti-aging remedy for skin and hair growth. Traditional Ayurvedic medicine considers castor oil the king of medicinals for curing arthritic diseases. In India, it is regularly given to children orally for de-worming. In this country, when I was growing up in the 50s, it was routinely given to children to drink a tablespoon of as a remedy for constipation. (It’s really more of a purgative than a laxative, and will almost always work when bulk laxatives fail.) And, I also remember my mother telling me that she had been given castor oil before each of the births of her children to stimulate uterine contractions.
Castor oil improves both blood and lymphatic fluid flow. It benefits in the specific conditions of inflammation, congestion, and constipation.
Here is the long list of conditions that we now know can be helped by castor oil:
*fungal and bacterial infections
*abdominal stretch marks (prevention)
*applied to breasts to increase milk secretion and relieve inflammation and milk stagnation in the mammary glands.
*menstrual-related congestion; promotes normal menstruation as well as relieving menstrual cramps (I used castor oil packs to relieve menstrual cramps regularly when I was still getting my period, and it never failed to significantly reduce the pain.)
*senile lentigo ("liver" or "aging" spots)
*chronic fluid retention with swollen joints and pain
*upper respiratory infections involving the sinuses, tonsils and inner ear
*colon problems (Crohn's disease, constipation, bowel impaction, colitis)
*liver cirrhosis, hepatitis, enlargement or congestion
*swollen lymph nodes
*bladder and vaginal infections
*nerve inflammations (sciatica, shingles)
The Science behind the Efficacy of Castor Oil
Castor oil is a triglyceride of fatty acids, and it seems to be unique in its concentration of 90% ricinoleic acid, an unsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. Other fatty acids are also present for the remaining 10%, including oleic acid, undecylenic acid. and linoleic acid. Part of the remarkable power of castor oil lies in the fact that ricinoleic acid has been shown to be highly effective as a detoxifying agent in preventing and inhibiting the growth of numerous species of viruses, bacteria, yeasts and molds.
Although castor oil has had a long history as a medicinal, it is only recently that we have begun to understand the science behind its efficacy. It should not surprise us to find out that its very wide applicability for so many diseases and conditions has to do with three main systems of the body: the immune system, the lymphatic system, and the digestive system. Of course, these three systems are intimately connected to each other, as researchers now understand that up to 80% of the immune system is located within the gut—the digestive tract—and the lymphatic system, too, is a crucial part of the immune system. To this day, we still don't totally understand the specific functions and importance of Peyer's patches. But we have enough research on it to understand at least some aspects of the science behind its effectiveness. Researchers have witnessed that castor oil affects specifically Peyer’s patches, and in rather remarkable (really miraculous) ways.
Thanks to the recent research of Stefan Offermanns, a biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Germany, and his colleagues, we now understand why my mother’s generation was so sold on castor oil. The ricinoleic acid that comprises most of the oil connects to two prostaglandin receptors: EP 3 and EP4. Both have varied roles in the body, from changing the structure of neurons to controlling how blood clots. In experiments on mice, the researchers showed that ricinoleic acid induces its laxative and labor-inducing effects by interacting with EP3. When someone swallows castor oil, ricinoleic acid latches onto EP3 molecules in smooth muscle cells on the walls of the small intestine and causes contractions, explaining castor oil’s effectiveness as a laxative. Similarly, the researchers showed that ricinoleic acid binds to EP3 in the uterus and causes contractions.
The Hormesis Effect
Viruses, bacterial and other pathogens are not the only substances that castor can kill. It is a broad-spectrum germicide, and as such, is used as a spermicide in spermicidal gels. If administered to pregnant women in slightly higher dosages, it may also cause abortions. However, if the dosage is too high (and correct dosage for this purpose can be difficult to determine), administration of the oil can be fatal for the mother too. Thus, castor oil is not recommended as a mode of birth control.
We now understand that it is the same the germicidal, insecticidal and fungicidal properties of ricinoleic acid that is the mechanism by which scalp and hair are positively affected. They are protected from microbial and fungal infections. These are the two prime causes of hair loss. In addition, the fatty acids in the oil nourish hair and prevent the scalp from drying by retaining moisture well.
Although the right dosage of the oil can be used to create health, the seeds from which the oil is extracted can be quite dangerous. They contain ricin, a poison. When the seeds are swallowed whole, they simply pass through the digestive tract without releasing the toxin, and with no damage to any animal, including humans. But when the seeds are broken or chewed, the toxin is quickly absorbed, and causes fatality. Toxicity varies among animal species: four seeds will kill a rabbit; five kill a sheep; six kill an ox or horse; seven, a pig; and eleven, a dog. Ducks, for whatever reason, have shown far more resistance to the seeds: it takes about 80 to kill them. A fatal dose for humans is four to eight seeds, and symptoms of ricin poisoning usually appear within 36 hours after ingestion. Death occurs within three to five days.
During the First World War, Italian Fascist poet Gabriele D'Annunzio conceived of castor oil as a method of punishment. In World War II, it was used as an instrument of coercion by the paramilitary Blackshirts under the regime of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Dissidents and regime opponents were forced to ingest the oil in large amounts, triggering severe diarrhea and dehydration, which could ultimately cause death.
It is thought that ricin from castor seeds was used to poison the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in 1978. Markov was stabbed by the tip of an umbrella dipped in ricin while he was waiting for a bus near the Waterloo station in London. The autopsy showed a perforated capsule lodged in his leg.
The Lymphatic System and Peyer’s Patches:
The lymphatic system is an amazingly complex structure. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body.
Lymphatic vessels are similar to the circulatory system's veins and capillaries. They are connected to lymph nodes, where the lymph is filtered. We have hundreds of lymph nodes located deep within the body, around the lungs and heart, or closer to the surface, such as under the arm or groin. The tonsils, adenoids, spleen and thymus are all part of the lymphatic system.
Many of us have experienced the tenderness and swelling of an inflamed lymph node at one time or another. This is the result of antibodies fighting an infection either in the node itself or somewhere in the draining area of that particular lymph chain.
The first sign of a failure of the lymphatic system is "pitting" edema. This is an accumulation of fluid in tissues, or swelling, and it usually happens in the feet, ankles or hands. The test for “pitting” edema is simple. A finger is pressed into the skin at the area of the swelling and then quickly removed. The skin stays depressed, forming a small “pit”, which remains until the fluid outside the cells has time to return to the area, usually only from 5 to 30 seconds. The problem with this test is that “pitting” edema cannot be observed until fluid levels outside the cells reach 30 percent above normal. In other words, you can have a serious lymphatic drainage problem long before it can be detected through this test.
Peyer’s patches, as part of the lymphatic system, are crucially important for over-all health. This is lymphatic tissue that is part of the gastrointestinal immune system, lying in clumps throughout the mucous membrane of the lowest portion of the small intestine. Like lymph nodes, Peyer’s patches produce lymph. In aiding in the production of antibodies, they help to keep the gastrointestinal system free of harmful pathogens. This is especially important in the lower reaches of the small intestine where a wide variety of potentially harmful bacteria from both the stomach and the large intestine live.
Peyer’s patches are smart. They have the ability to distinguish between “harmful” and “non-harmful” entities as food passes through the gastrointestinal tract. Antigens in the food are presented to the tissue and Peyer’s patches determine how they should be classified. In addition to recognizing antigens and triggering the appropriate response, Peyer’s patches can also learn to identify new antigens, storing this information for future reference to make the immune system more effective.
Castor Oil to the Rescue
Several problems occur when the lymph drainage slows. The amount of oxygen and nourishment the cells receive is decreased. Cells become auto-intoxicated, and are forced to survive in their own waste and toxic by-products. This situation can occur in any part of the body where lymph nodes live, including the heart (leading to tissue damage and even heart failure), as well as in the liver, the kidneys and other organs.
Although drugs can be used in these conditions, they are not an effective way of restoring lymphatic flow. But lymphatic flow can be restored when castor oil is absorbed through the skin. With dermal absorption, several extraordinary events take place:
1) The lymphocyte count of the blood increases. This is a result of a positive influence on the thymus gland and/or lymphatic tissue.
2) The flow of lymph increases throughout the body. This speeds up the removal of toxins surrounding the cells and reduces the size of swollen lymph nodes.
3) As toxicity is reduced, the pH of the saliva becomes less acidic, indicating improved health.
4) The Peyer's patches in the small intestine become more efficient in their absorption of fatty acids, which are essential for the formation of hormones and other components necessary for growth and repair.
Common Methods of Using Castor Oil
The most common way to use castor oil (and most objectionable) is to take it orally. Generally, oral doses are used to correct constipation. The recommended dose is 1 tablespoon for adults and 1 teaspoon for children. You can usually expect a "purging" of the system in about four to six hours.
Massaged Directly into the Skin
The oil can simply be rubbed into the skin. It can also be used as a massage oil, which seems to be especially effective when applied along the spinal column.
Castor Oil Packs
Packs are the method most advocated by Cayce. It is an economical and efficient method of absorbing the ricinoleic acid and other healing components of castor oil directly into body tissues.
To Make a Castor Oil Pack
1. Start by placing a heating pad or hydracolator (the hydracolator has the advantage of not having any electromagnetic pollution, but the disadvantage of losing heat) on a flat surface. The heat level should be high.
2. On top of the pad lay a plastic garbage bag. Next, soak flannel cloth with castor oil (generally about 1/2 cup, and alternatively, the castor oil can be warmed on the stove first and the flannel put directly into the hot oil) and lay both on top of the garbage bag and the heating element.
3. The entire pack can now be placed against the body with the oil-soaked flannel on the skin. For general conditions the pack should be placed on the abdomen. For treating lower back problems, the pack can be placed there. To help hold the pack in place and to keep oil from getting on bedding or clothes, the body can be wrapped in a large bath towel.
4. The pack should remain in place for at least one hour and the temperature of the heating pad should be kept at the highest temperature tolerable. If you are using a hydracolator, you will have to re-heat it.
5. When you remove the pack, the remaining oil can be massaged into the skin or cleaned off using a little soda water made from 1 quart of warm water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda.
6. The flannel can be reused if stored properly after removing the pack. Put the flannel in either a plastic bag or zip-loc container and place it in the refrigerator. Before using it again, let it warm up, and always add another 1 or 2 tablespoons of fresh cold pressed castor oil. (After a month of use, it’s best to begin using new flannel.)
The Importance of Peyer’s Patches and Supplements
Frank Ervolino, ND has some interesting things to say about Peyer’s patches and supplements. He first explains the obvious: dietary supplements can only be useful if they are absorbed. Without the proper absorption, these supplements are simply digested and turned to waste.
Dr. Ervolina goes on to explain how Peyer’s patches work in this process of absorption. As we have found out, Peyer’s patches play a very important role in immune response. And, as such, they also play a lesser known, but equally important role in the absorption of dietary supplements that are used for immune response:
“Research has shown that dietary supplements made from yeast and bacteria cell wall, glucans from mushrooms and other sources, act on the immune system via presentation of Peyer’s patch follicles. These follicles, located in the lower intestine of gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), grab hold of samples of bacteria, constituents of digested food, and other matter that transit the gastrointestinal tract in order to provide the immune system with information on the type of pathological threats facing the organism. The body responds to the compounds presented via Peyer’s patches by modifying, or modulating immune response.”
Dr. Ervolino suggests to choose supplements, especially immune supplements, that are micro-encapsulated with layers to protect the active material from degradation caused by the high acid environment of the stomach. As well, layers of micro-encapsulation materials adhere to Peyer’s patches, slowing their transit through the lower GI tract, and enhancing their presentation to the immune system.
Addendum and Conclusion
In his readings, Cayce attributed several actions to castor oil. Most were in one way or another related to the body's lymphatic system. However, he also alluded to the idea that castor oil has a vibrational quality that helps harmonize and promote healing within body cells.
Dr. Johanna Budwig developed a cancer treatment using flaxseed and cottage cheese. She has related much of the healing properties of flax oil to its unique chemical bonds that vibrate at the same frequency as the wavelengths of sunlight. She feels the essential fatty acids in flax oil have the ability to absorb and store the energy from sunlight. It's possible that the special bonding in castor oil's unique ricinoleic acid works in a somewhat related method.
* Peyer’s patches are the largest component of the body’s immune system.
* They are instrumental in modulating “harmful” versus “non-harmful” for the overall immune system through antigen recognition.
* They regulate gut permeability and nutrient absorption.
* Peyer’s patches assist in detoxifying the body by using their absorption ability to direct toxins back to the lymph system for removal.
* They modulate the immune system through receptor sites that regulate innate and adaptive immune responses.
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