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I’ve been writing about castor oil a lot, mainly because I’ve had some wonderful results from it personally. Among other things, castor oil has aided in my recovery from PCOS and dissolved a painful calcium deposit on my heel. That it could do those things were amazing to me — it still is.
Sometimes though, I find myself reluctant to write about my own positive experiences because the extent of my successful healing can sound like I’m making it all up. I think part of it is because the “accepted” way of getting treatment for most of the modern Western world is to go to a doctor, take lots of pills (ALL of which are liver-toxic, by the way) or go for painful surgery (which may or may not make things worse). If you do these things, no one will question your sanity or your prudence.
This is despite the fact that most modern, accepted treatments = expensive, with possibly harmful side effects, may/may not even work, usually become ineffective when discontinued (which means you are chained for life), only seeks to treat the surface symptoms, abandons even the pretense of healing as its aim (this last one makes me want to alternately cry and tear my hair out because it is sheer madness… unethical, even).
Meanwhile, the method of treatment I’m proposing (castor oil) is so simple, cheap and effective that many will write it off without even giving it a chance. After all, how can it work when it’s not expensive, painful and harmful to us, right? I know some might mock me or think me as simple-minded, or even worse, a scam artist…
The other day, someone asked me in the comments if I was writing about castor oil because I make money by selling it. I do not produce or sell castor oil on this site or anywhere else. I never have. All the ads on my article pages are contextual ads, not direct product ads. My first instinct when reading this commenter’s question was to feel somewhat hurt/indignant. But after a while, I ended up feeling quite grateful to the commenter as it gave me a chance to clarify an issue that I didn’t even know might cross some readers’ minds.
I seem to have rambled on a bit here… My point is, in the end, it really doesn’t matter what some choose to believe or disbelieve about castor oil. It only matters what I believe/experience/do/ultimately share with the world. I know my messages will go out to those who really need it. That to me is everything. And that is partly why I’ve decided to write this article. Hopefully, it will convince some people to open up their minds a little. Well, I can hope!
This article is quite different from my other ones. I’ve realised that while it’s one thing for me to TELL people about my experience with using castor oil, it’s quite something else when I can SHOW them. That’s right, I’m putting aside any self-consciousness I have and showing everyone my own before-and-after photos. Yeah!!! And here we go…
The story of how I healed my scar using castor oil
THE SHORT VERSION: I successfully healed a three-year old deep burn scar on my leg by using castor oil. Scroll down for photos galore. The end.
THE LONG VERSION: In 2007, I accidentally burned my leg on a hot motorcycle exhaust pipe. Yes, I lead a very exciting life. 🙂 The burn was on the inner calf of my right leg. My initial injury can be classified as a deep second-degree burn.
After the wound scabbed and peeled over a couple of weeks, the scarred skin that emerged was:
- almost completely hairless
- much less sensitive to touch than the normal, healthy skin around it. These mean the burn was deep and severe enough to have “killed” most of the hair follicles as well as some nerve endings.
- had a complete and “permanent” change in color. This was mostly hyper-pigmentation (darkening) mixed with a bit of hypo-pigmentation (loss of color), which is common in deep burns. The pigment change was dermal (reached the lower dermis layer of the skin, as opposed to the upper epidermis only), and deep enough that conventional lightening treatments such as hydroquinone could do nothing to change it.
- there was also a slight crescent-shaped depression close to the centre of the scar. I could feel the dip in my skin by touch alone.
In October 2009, I started using castor oil on my leg.
By June 2010 (9 months later), the scar was almost gone.
Amazingly, after this nine-month period:
- there was normal hair growth (I know the photos below don’t show the hair, but that’s only because I’ve shaved my legs. )
- my touch sensitivity returned — nerves I previously thought were dead and gone were revived back to life
- skin color/pigmentation returned to normal, blending in almost flawlessly with my surrounding skin. This was not something I expected at all since I have olive skin or Type IV skin
- the small depression had mostly filled in with healthy new tissue
In the most recent photo below (March 2011), you can still see a shadow of the scar on my calf. However, this was deliberate on my part — in August 2010, I decided to stop using castor oil on my leg. As strange as this may sound, I wanted a little bit of my scar to remain with me, because in my eyes, it had turned from a flaw into a reminder of my mind-opening journey.
You may read this article and imagine that the journey was a completely smooth, confident and happy one for me, but that isn’t the case at all. I had many ups and downs. During the first few months, I had many “downs”. There were days when I lost faith and thought about giving up. But as I discovered, all things change with time.
So yes, I want to keep a little bit of my scar with me. It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve healed. Even now, everytime I look at it, I’d feel so very grateful for my healing and in awe of my body’s amazing transformation.
It truly makes me wonder what else is possible!
My method of using castor oil
How I used castor oil was easy — I kept it on my scar as much as I can. There were many days when I kept castor oil on my scar for almost 24 hours a day (excluding the breaks for showers).
During the day, I would massage castor oil into my scar. Sometimes I did this a few times a day. I learnt to carry a tiny travel bottle of castor oil with me to do this in the restroom at public places or at work.
At night, I would put a castor oil pack on my scar before going to bed. A castor oil pack is just a way to keep castor oil on the skin by wrapping it up. For my castor oil pack, I would slather the oil on my scar, cover it with cotton gauze, put more castor oil over that, and then wrap my calf up in cling film (plastic wrap) to keep it from staining my sheets. I then put on a long sock to make sure everything stayed on while I slept. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but I got it done very quickly, usually in less than a few minutes.
What I used
- I used only microwave-safe cling film that’s toxin-free, which seems to be fairly safe. It’s important to use toxin-free plastic if you’re putting on a castor oil pack. Castor oil is a very good solvent and can displace the chemicals and dyes in some plastics. Once displaced, these chemicals may be readily absorbed by the skin, leading to irritation (thanks to dollfaceluna for pointing this out to me!).
[UPDATE: I recently found something that might work even better than cling flim — silicone food wraps (sometimes called stretch lids/silicone lids). They’re stronger than cling film, clear, washable and maintain their shape (they don’t bunch up easily). And because they’re washable and reusable, they also save money and reduce waste. I bought a set and it’s very easy to cut them down to size. Most come in a few sizes, so you may not even need to cut them.]
- I used cotton gauze because it was cheap and disposable, but when I first started out, I was using cut cloth (basic unbleached cotton). Both are fine, but because castor oil will go rancid eventually, I’d need to wash/dry the cloth every few nights to keep it fresh. Eventually, I switched to cotton gauze that I bought at the pharmacy. Gauze was cheap, plentiful and disposable, so I didn’t need to wash it. It came in long strips so I cut them up into small squares for my use. If you decide to use cloth instead, here’s a tip: wash it out with baking soda. Baking soda gets castor oil out very well.
- The brands of castor oil I used were Home Health, Heritage and Now Foods (where to buy castor oil?). However, this shouldn’t matter. Any brand that’s hexane-free and cold-pressed will do (the oil should ideally be cold-pressed because it retains more nutrients this way — the cold-pressed oil extraction method is much gentler than conventional methods; for example, it uses no heat). Anyway, I couldn’t tell any difference in the quality between the brands I used. So don’t worry about brands so much, I made my own purchasing choices based on how large a bottle I could get for as low a price as possible, just because I go through a LOT of castor oil. 🙂
I used castor oil this way daily, but I also took breaks from it once in a while to let my skin rest. I found that my heavy usage of castor oil would sometimes “loosen” the skin on my scar, making it look a bit wrinkly. Kind of like the way skin would “prune up” when we stay in a bath too long. I wasn’t worried the first time I noticed this “loosening effect” because I somehow knew it was temporary. This probably happens because castor oil is a very good humectant and will put moisture into the skin. The breaks I took gave my skin a rest and then everything would tighten up again. This would be anywhere between a week to two weeks. I took as much time as my skin needed to tighten back up.
Just to be clear, this temporary loosening only happened because I was using castor oil very intensively on my scar (almost 24 hours/day and over many consecutive days). I’ve never gotten any such effect through normal usage of castor oil on other parts of my body or my face.
In the beginning, I worried that taking these breaks from my regimen would delay my healing. But when I saw that my scar was continuing to heal and progress regardless, I started to change my mind. I now believe these breaks were beneficial and possibly even crucial in healing my scar. I believe my skin was rebuilding itself more efficiently during the rest periods, while breaking down the scar tissue more actively during the “on” periods. But that’s just my personal opinion, I don’t exactly know how castor oil was able to do what it did for me, I only have my theories. (If you’re interested in finding out more on your own, google Edgar Cayce and castor oil. Edgar Cayce was a pioneer and advocate of castor oil use. )
Like I told a commenter (Matt), it’s a fairly intensive daily regimen, which was sometimes hard to keep up with. But then I started to see results… Slowly but surely, I saw my scar changing with my own eyes after a few months. This was the proof that kept me going when I would have otherwise given up.
How my scar changed
Everyone’s scars and skin injuries are different so it would make sense for us to heal differently. This was how my scar changed.
- The appearance of tiny light dots
After a few months, I started seeing many tiny, light-ish dots in my hyperpigmented scar. They were so tiny at first that I could only see them by looking closely under the bright light of a torch. Then the tiny dots grew large enough that I could see them in normal lighting.
These dots continued to expand and eventually started to join up with each other. I got very excited at that. Eventually, I had small patches of healed, unblemished skin within my scar, which I spent many minutes staring at and touching…. I was simply amazed at them.
- Hair growth (important for regeneration!)
At the same time, I started seeing short and very fine, light-colored hairs appear on my scar. At first, these hairs were almost colourless and looked “golden” under a light. Over time, they grew longer, thicker and darker, until they looked no different from the hair on the rest of my legs. I noticed that my scar started to show faster improvement after normal hair growth returned.
This is probably because hair growth and follicles are important in cell regeneration. You may be surprised by this, but stem cells — which turn into our skin cells and nerve cells and everything else — originate from our hair follicles (these stem cells also aid skin regeneration after an injury—read ‘Hair follicle stem cells – the hairy truth‘). Knowing that my follicles were important in healing my scar, I made sure not to harm them by waxing since this would pull them from the root. And yes, I admit that I even avoided shaving my scar most of the time just to be safe. Although in theory, shaving should not do much harm, and what harm it causes should be temporary at the most.
Basically, the changes in my scar came slowly and started out very small, but these little changes added up to a big one over nine months.
In fact, here’s another tip: if you’re trying to heal a scar with castor oil, take a good, clear photo of it now if you can. It would be useful for you to look at it and make comparisons after a few months just because it’s sometimes hard for us to see the changes in something that we look at everyday.
About the photos
It was awkward for me to take photos of my calf with my phone. The easiest way for me to take a good shot was to rest my right calf over my left thigh. I actually have tons of photos, these are only a few. What can I say… I’m a big geek and something of an amateur documenter. I’ve been journaling for many years now for my own nerdy pleasure. I never thought I would share these photos with anyone else, let alone publish them online for the whole world to see!
If you’re reading this and have a deep scar you wish to treat, I hope my photos and story give you some hope. 🙂
Note: Thank you to the girl I saw at lunchtime today. She was walking ahead of me in a skirt and had the same burn scar I did, on the same place on her calf. I really, really wanted to ask her about it (motorcycle exhaust pipe, huh?). I wanted to roll up my pant leg, show her my calf and share with her what I did to heal it. But I didn’t. Eventhough I would have approached her with nothing but love and an enthusiastic desire to share/help, I thought there was a chance she would not have wanted my help in that setting (we were in a crowded place and she was not alone).
Afterwards, I wasn’t sure if I had made the right decision in not speaking to her. Sometimes, we fear too much and a golden moment in life might pass us by. I thought about how I could make things right somehow, and I came up with the idea of putting this article + some of my photos together. So this was all really inspired by her. Thank you!