Steaming & Castor Oil Packs
This is an ancient herbal healing practice to nourish the womb, vagina and vulva.
Using a blend of medicinal plants in a herbal infusion brings warmth to the womb and perineum, softening the tissues it comes in to contact with. The use of specific herbs adds layers of different healing benefits, depending on the health condition being treated, to nourish, tone, bring in fresh oxygenated blood and promote uterine cleansing. The water vapour carries the medicinal benefits of the plants including the volatile oils, and is absorbed in to the tissues and enters the bloodstream, having a direct healing benefit on the reproductive system since vaginal tissue is one of the most absorbent in the female body.
The practice can help to :-
– reduce pain and bloating during your cycle
– reduce dark blood at the start and end of your period
– help regulate cycles
– promote circulation to the reproductive system, supporting healing and fertility, especially with conditions such as Endometriosis, Fibroids and Ovarian Cysts and prolapse
– support menopausal symptoms and vaginal dryness
– gently support detoxification
Read more on how to steam here
It’s possible to come to have a steaming session set up for you in my home treatment barn, using herbs tailored specially for you and a special steaming stool to make the whole experience comfortable, relaxing and private. It’s also possible to have a combined steaming and abdominal therapy session, which is a lovely way to receive the benefits of both approaches. Please feel free to contact me for details.
If you would prefer to be able to steam in the privacy of your own home, it’s a really simple approach to be able to do for yourself too.
Directions on how to steam
Using a blend of herbs prepared specially for steaming, place a large handful of the herbs in a large stainless steel pot with about 2 litres of fresh water. Gently simmer the herbs in the water for about 10 minutes then remove from heat and pour into a heat proof bowl.
There are lots of different ways to set up a steaming station for yourself at home. One method is using a modified chair with a circular hole cut in to it, or a garden chair that is slatted. An alternative method is kneeling over a bowl and resting your upper body on the end of a bed or sofa.
Place the steam bowl securely beneath the hole in the chair or in-between your thighs. Try placing on a wooden box or something similar, approx 20 cms away from your skin would be comfortable but experiment with what suits you. You will be sitting over the steam for 15 minutes so your legs and bottom need to be comfortable and supported. I also find it can be helpful to have an extra towel or blanket beneath your knees if you are kneeling.
The important thing is to be warm and comfortable and relaxed. So creating a lovely space with candles and relaxing music can be lovely too. Be naked from the waist down, cover yourself with a warm blanket or towels that reach well to the floor and includes the back of the stool/chair/ your legs. This helps to retain the steam and warmth, and wear cosy socks to keep your feet warm.
Remain in the chair or kneeling absorbing the herbal steam for 15 – 20 minutes.
Be careful when you first sit over the steam to make sure it’s not too hot. The steam should be a comfortable temperature. If you feel it’s too hot, remove bowl, let cool for a few minutes then resume.
Afterwards, keep warm and if possible wrap up and go to bed for the night or lie down and rest for at least half an hour. This will strengthen the healing process and allow your body to integrate the effects of the herbal steam. Other nurturing practices such as Self Massage and / or a Castor Oil pack before or after a steam will enhance the process more deeply.
Herbal steams can be done any time through out your cycle, but are advised not to be used during your period, as steaming at this time can promote heavier blood flow. Steaming just after the end of your period and a couple of times in the week before menses begins can be ideal for helping to regulate and balance cycles.
If you are trying to conceive ONLY USE STEAMS BETWEEN THE END OF YOUR PERIOD AND OVULATION. Do not use steams after ovulation during the second half of your cycle, or any time you think you might be pregnant.
For post partum care – to heal swelling, tears + stitches, the herbs can be used as a sitz bath everyday for 1-2 weeks
For menopause care, the herbal steams can be used monthly to help prevent menopausal symptoms and ease vaginal dryness
When not to apply herbal steams
– during pregnancy
– during acute infections, inflammation, thrush or open cuts or ulcers
The Herbal Blends in my store have been designed and put together by Emma Tivey, Medical Herbalist.
Vitex berries, Raspberry Leaf, Nettle leaf, Rose Petals, Motherwort Leaf | balancing hormones, regulating cycle, relaxing system
Calendula flowers, Yarrow Leaf, Alchemilla leaf, Mugwort flowers, Crampbark Root | regulates heavy, painful + irregular menses, balancing hormones
Motherwort, Schisandra Berries, Plantain, Rose + Calendula | post partum care, healing for delicate skin tissue, balancing hormones
Dong quai root, Borage Leaf, Mallow Root + Leaf, Rose + Lavender flowers | softening + moistening vaginal tissue, balancing hormones
Heal the Womb
Lavender, Chamomile, Yarrow, Jasmine, Calendula, Rosemary, Mistletoe, Lemon Balm | soothing, uplifting, clears energetic residue + outmoded patterns, unifies the divine feminine + divine masculine.
Castor Oil Packs
Castor Oil has been used as a healing ointment since the early cultures of Egypt, India, Japan, China and Persia. It’s composed of unique fatty acids which are antifungal, antiviral, and have a decongestant and detoxifying effect on the body. Castor Oil also has significant anti-inflammatory properties.
Traditional castor oil packs are applied to encourage lymphatic circulation in the areas of the breasts, uterus, liver, to support menstrual and menopausal health, and fertility.
The benefits of using castor oil packs include:-
– reducing brown blood at the start or end of the period
– supporting healing especially with conditions such as Endometriosis & Fibroids
– reducing heavy, clotted and / or painful periods
– helping to balance irregular cycles
– softening scar tissue and adhesions
– easing congestion and helping to boost blood flow
– gently drawing out toxins and nourishing and supporting the liver
– helping to support and prepare for IVF
Read more on how to apply castor oil packs here
Castor Oil Packing Information Sheet
How do castor oil packs work?
Castor oil packs stimulate 3 important parts of the body: lymphatic and circulatory systems and the liver. The stimulation of these body systems aids the body in healing the organs and tissues beneath where the castor oil pack is applied.
The lymphatic system is made up of lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes and lymph, a clear to yellowish fluid. Lymphocytes are the cells of the lymphatic system. Lymphocytes help to provide immunological defence against disease. This system runs throughout our entire body. Lymph nodes are concentrated in certain areas of the body, and many lymph nodes surround the reproductive organs. The lymphatic system provides each cell in the body a means to get rid of waste. The lymphatic system relies on external movement and manipulation, as well as regular movement of the entire body to function, as it doesn’t have a “pump” to move the lymph through it like the circulatory system has the heart. Castor oil packs are one way to stimulate movement of lymph, which helps to cleanse the reproductive organs and promote healing of damaged tissues where the pack is applied.
The circulatory system is the heart, blood, veins and arteries, that runs throughout the entire body. The promotion of circulation by the castor oil pack will bring in fresh oxygenated, nutrient rich blood to the reproductive organs, including the uterus, supporting optimal function and healing, and helping to minimise inflammation and congestion.
The liver is our chemical processing plant. The liver removes hormones, drugs, and other biologically active molecules from the blood. It converts these by changing their structure or inactivating them, through different processes, and then excretes these to be passed through the kidneys. If there are too many excess toxins and hormones overwhelming the liver, they may be stored up, not only in the liver, but other parts of our body, especially fat. The liver also makes 1/3 to 1/2 of all lymph. Liver health is vital for the proper function of the lymphatic system. Supporting the liver with the castor oil packs helps it to function optimally and produce lymph, both of which contribute to hormonal balance.
How do you do a Castor Oil Pack?
Get a bottle of castor oil and a clean cotton cloth you don’t mind throwing away. Choose Organic Cold Pressed Castor Oil, which can be generally be found in most health food shops or online.
Pour a generous amount of castor oil in to a bowl and soak the cloth in it, then place the flannel on your lower abdomen around the uterus area. You can also put the packs over your liver or your lower back too, to help support these areas. Put an old towel over the top and then sit with it for 20 minutes.
Place a warm hot water bottle over the top of this to help to stimulate the healing process even further. If you’d rather not add heat that’s fine too. It isn’t necessary and there are some schools of thought that suggest applying heat is not helpful if you have any concerns regarding egg reserve, so go whichever approach feels right and best for you, and know that both will be effective and supportive.
If you prefer you can use the castor oil balm (see here in the shop) which can make it easier to apply and go about your day if you don’t have time to apply a full castor oil pack with the castor oil.
How often should i do them and when?
Depending on your circumstances and what you’re using the treatments for, you can do the packs up to a maximum of 3 or 4 nights in a row every week except during your period, and only up to ovulation time if you’re actively trying to conceive this month, (such as days 5, 6. 7 and 12, 13, 14), otherwise it’s fine to do them every few days throughout the month, stopping a few days before your period starts.
For IVF cycles and FET’s it’s fine to continue with the packs during down regulation and stimulation / lining building phase, stopping a few days before egg collection or if it’s a frozen cycle, a few days before transfer (but don’t use the packs during your withdrawal bleed and DO NOT USE THEM AT ALL POST TRANSFER TIME.
In between sessions you can keep your cloth in a little sealed container like a glass mason jar or a zip lock bag in the fridge and then wash it or start with a fresh one at the end of a fortnight.
Build up gradually to up to an hour. No more than 20 minutes a time for the first week though, and increasing to 30 – 40 mins during the second week.
It can cause your first period to come early and feel more intense but after that beautiful cleanse things should be hugely improved.
When shouldn’t I do them?
During your period or withdrawal bleed or during any other times of heavy bleeding as the packs can promote heavier bleeding.
If you think you might be pregnant
Not past ovulation if you are actively trying to conceive that month
Not over broken skin
Do keep out of the reach of children and rinse with warm water if the castor oil comes in to contact with your eyes.
Castor Oil can stain so please be careful with your clothes and any fabric it comes in to contact with.