OJ + Castor Oil Cleanse

If you are loving yourself with the true love of radiant health, might I suggest an Ayurvedic Castor Oil Cleanse?

Recently integrative nutritionist Melissa Patruno interviewed me for her upcoming Trust Your Gut Summit, and we explored the intelligence of Agni, or digestive fire, to create radiant health. But frankly, after three months of being on the road, including six weeks in India, my agni feels spent, so I’ve moved this Agni reboot to the top of my weekend agenda.

In his book, The Hot Belly Diet,  my friend and Ayurvedic Master Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar writes, “Castor oil has long been known as a flushing agent for the gastrointestinal tract, as it cleanses out and sanitizes the system – especially the gallbladder and liver, optimizing the flow of bile to boost digestion… It will also stimulate your body to burn fat and cleanse the deep tissues of your body.”

Dr. Kshirsagar, who was the Ayurvedic consultant for Maharishi, goes on to write, “Since its first recorded use three thousand years ago… it (castor oil) has been a home remedy to relieve pain, increase lymphatic circulation, reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and treat everything from constipation to heartburn.”

In her book, Enchanting Beauty, Dr. Manisha Kshirsagar (yes, they are an Ayurvedic power couple) recommends we do the castor oil cleanse monthly, because, she notes, “when the liver is strong, and the blood is clean and free of toxins, then the skin will shine with luster and a healthy glow.”

I guess that’s why I think of it as a great act of self-love: This Castor Oil Cleanse reignites your inner fires so that not only will you have that dewy glow of love, you will feel awesome, which will make you fall in love with your life all over again. So will everyone else, of course, because self-love is infectious. 

Come on baby light my fire…

Castor Oil Cleanse – 3 Days

For a few days, eat simply:

Breakfast – Fruit or plain yogurt
Lunch –  Kichari (there are many recipes on my site)
Dinner – Steamed veggies or vegetable soup

On the morning of the third day, preferably a day when you can stay home and REST, right after you wake up, on an empty stomach, take your castor oil + OJ tonic (recipe below). Don’t eat that day until you feel hungry, and then eat kichari, or vegetable stew, or something gently cooked and light. You may feel tired that morning, or achy, or light-headed, but those are signs of detox-ing, so rest and go slow.

Castor Oil Tonic

1 t castor oil*
1 small glass orange juice

Mix the two together in a glass jar with a lid that tightens. Shake, shake, shake until the oil is blended very, very well, and the glistening bubbles dancing throughout are tiny.

Drink on an empty stomach. Sip hot water (with lemon, or ginger, or both) throughout the day. Don’t eat until you are hungry, and then kichari and or steamed vegetables are best. NOTE! Castor oil is a purgation so stay close to a bathroom, and rest, rest, rest.

The point is to get your bowels moving, so don’t be surprised if they move! If, however, you don’t experience movement, opt for light soups if/when you get hungry and keep sipping boiled, lemon-y water. Get a good night sleep and you’ll likely wake up to movement in the morning.

* Castor oil can cause cramping, so while some advise 1 tablespoon, I think it is better to start with less and see how that goes, which is why I am recommending 1 teaspoon here. Above all, don’t add more than 1 tablespoon and only do this once a month at most. More is often not better, and this is one of those cases. I purchase here.

Banyan Botanical’s Insight Blog has a great list of ways to use castor oil for beauty care and luscious hair, Dr Manisha includes taking castor oil internally in her 9 Simple Tips for Radiant Skin and Joyful Belly gives the warnings, including do not take if you are pregnant.


Be sure to check out the Trust Your Gut Summit which begins Monday with 21 smart interviews on digestive health and practices. It’s all free – and host Melissa Patruno has some really inspiring and insightful guests. I am looking forward to listening and learning as well as hearing what you think of the interview she and I did together.

Also, please be in touch with me if you would like a more targeted Ayurvedic consultation to address specific health issues. Ayurveda has great solutions for chronic ailments – especially those that western medicine seems to ignore.

I’d love to hear how your Spring is going. How are you keeping healthy, happy and whole these days? What lights your fire? 


11 thoughts on “OJ + Castor Oil Cleanse

  1. Is the castor oil a teaspoon or a tablespoon.. seems like teaspoon here but one of your references is for tablespoon? thank you

    • Thanks for the question, Debbie. I know Dr Suhas suggests a tablespoon, but I think it is safe to start with 1 teaspoon. After doing it once or twice over a couple of months, you could increase to 1 tablespoon. But someone people will get cramps or excessive fatigue, and since this is self-guided I’d prefer to err on that self-caring side of caution.

  2. What a great resource for an easy and practical whole foods mini cleanse. Thanks Laura! Yes, this is a great act of self-love. Hope you’re also starting to feel refreshed again post travels with the help of this flush and lots of rest!

    • Thank you Katie. And I have been loving your posts lately. How is the season in Suisse? Beautiful I hope!

  3. Ayurveda says that Castor oil is beneficial to all tissues so can safely be used indefinitely. Even the FDA agrees; setting the level for regular use at a tablespoon a day. If you are inspired to try it start with 1/4 – 1/2 tsp a day at bedtime or before a meal (treating chronic constipation or skin issues for instance) then increase your dose until you get the desired results.
    Thats a quote from Everyday Ayurveda….
    BUT posting this liver flush, I have to say you must tell people to exercise GREAT caution in using castor oil internally…It is very heating internally and can cause the gut chronic problems…Castor oil found in U.S. stores versus the castor oil used in Kerala Ayurveda are very different. The latter is gentler on the system.I am speaking from personal experience and using it more than I should have…I would find other medicines to help the liver other than castor oil, Laura…Externally, ok…Internally, no.

    • Thank you Gail! I agree – we must go slow and not overdo. That is why I suggested 1 teaspoon. After attending both Drs Khsirsagar’s talks at NAMA last month where both emphasized the castor oil monthly, I finally had the *gall* to post this. And they both have been suggesting it to me and clients since I’ve known them over a decade. It’s Virechana. Very powerful for Pitta, as well as having Vata, Kapha benefits, as you read/wrote. I am grateful for your input. Thanks again!

  4. I took castor oil mixed in OJ to start labor per my midwife. Granted, I took a lot of castor oil, but just be cautious, don’t take it if pregnant – let’s just say labor started shortly after and babe was born the next day!

    • Yes – don’t take castor oil if you are pregnant! unless wanting to induce. for that matter, all things that cause a flush have a tendency to flush… and cleanses are not recommended whatsoever for pregnant women. Thanks Anne!

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