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First thing’s first: What is a fomentation?

A fomentation is a topical application of a cloth or piece of fabric that has been soaked in some sort of medicinal substance. It is typically left on for an extended amount of time – about an hour to overnight, even. Keeping it warm with a heating pad or hot water bottle is a common practice as well.

Why would you do a fomentation?

Fomentations allow the body a long time to absorb the nutrients and support that it needs as it heals or works through a health issue. One benefit to a fomentation is the body is able to receive support without the person having to swallow or digest anything. The skin is amazing at absorbing what is helpful and blocking what is not from coming into the body. While this is good for anyone, it’s obviously very helpful for children, the elderly, and anyone else who has a hard time swallowing pills or digesting things.

How to do a Fomentation

Let’s say you are having liver struggles, for example. You could mix some liver-supporting herbs with water and boil it down to a decoction (basically a concentrated tea). Soak a piece of cloth in that decoction. Then, place it over the liver, cover it with some plastic to keep it wet, and cover that with something warm, like a hot water bottle or heating pad. Let the cloth sit on the area for at least an hour, but longer if you desire.

What about a Castor Oil Fomentation?

Castor oil is great to have on hand for many things, but I use it most often as a fomentation. Wherever there may be hardened mucus in the body, congestion, sluggishness, pain, or toxin overload, a castor oil fomentation may be helpful! The castor oil will help get things moving, loosening blockages, and allowing the body to purge accumulated junk. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Soak a piece of cloth in castor oil so it’s fully covered but not dripping. According to the School of Natural Healing, where I first learned about castor oil fomentations, it is best to use a cloth made of a natural fiber, such as cotton or wool. 
  2. Place the soaked cloth over the desired area. It is particularly useful for the liver, but over the entire torso is a good way to go for general detoxification support.
  3. Cover that with plastic and place a source of heat on top of that. You can use a heating pad or a warm water bottle (which you may need to refill a few times during the course of the treatment).
  4. Leave for an hour or two, or up to overnight if needed. 
  5. Repeat this process for 3 days in a row.
  6. For the next 3 days, take a break from the castor oil fomentation and instead rub olive oil into the same area you had been doing the fomentation.
  7. Rest on the 7th day.
  8. Repeat this process of 3 days castor oil fomentation, 3 days olive oil, 1 day rest for 6 weeks. Then rest for a week and start again if needed. 

The castor oil will draw out toxins and hardened mucus from the body, while the olive oil will feed and nourish the body so it can rebuild itself. 

I have used this process for times when my liver or gallbladder are struggling, and it totally helps! Have you tried this before? I’d love to hear your experience or any tips you have to share.

About the author

Hey! My name is Brittan and I live in Utah with my husband and one adorable toddler. I love finding holistic and natural ways to care for myself and my family. I particularly enjoy learning about nutrition, herbal medicine, the emotional, spiritual, and energetic aspects of health, and anything else that contributes to complete wellness. Thanks for joining me!

I am not a doctor. Everything I write about is from my personal experience and perspective. Consult a physician if you have questions specific to your health.

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