Castor oil (Ricinus communis) comes from the castor seed, native to India. It is extremely high in ricinoleic acid, which is thought to be responsible for its health-promoting abilities.

Castor oil is sometimes used internally for inducing labor, but the available research doubts its helpfulness.

To support my body when I discovered my MTHFR mutation, I decided to try another way to use castor oil — castor oil packs!

How to Use a Castor Oil Pack -Fold a large piece of cotton flannel into thirds. My 20-by-10-inch original folded to 7-by-10. Depending on where you put it, yours could be bigger or smaller.

-Relax on your back with your feet elevated for 30-60 minutes. -Deep breathe, read, meditate, or pray during this time (or whatever you find relaxing). -Remove the pack and return the flannel to the glass container. Chill.

You can buy castor oil kits complete with cotton flannel, and a non-messy wrap-around pack that removes the need for plastic wrap.

Castor oil is handy to have around the house for other uses as well. It is rich in fatty acids and it contains antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit the body in many ways.

For best results, apply castor oil packs for 60-90 minutes as soon as trouble starts. Do this about 3 times a week for a 3 week period. Consult with a doctor to rule out more serious causes.