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Does Castor Oil in the Belly Button Really Work?

Shot of an unrecognizable young woman making a heart shape with her hands around her belly button

Castor oil has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for its potential benefits, such as reducing inflammation and bacteria. It is commonly used for treating constipation and improving skin and hair health. Recently, there has been a growing trend of applying castor oil directly in the belly button, based on ancient Ayurvedic traditions. However, the effectiveness of this practice is still a topic of debate, with conflicting opinions from experts.

Does Castor Oil in the Belly Button Really Work?

Shot of an unrecognizable young woman making a heart shape with her hands around her belly button

The Science behind Applying Castor Oil on the Belly Button

The belly button, or umbilicus, is a unique part of the human body that once served as a connection between the mother and the developing fetus. It contains the remnants of the umbilical cord, which carried nutrients from the placenta to the baby. Some believe that applying castor oil to the belly button can stimulate the absorption of nutrients and bioactive compounds into the bloodstream. This practice has roots in ancient civilizations like Egypt and India, where castor oil was used for various purposes, including its laxative effects and promotion of hair growth, skin health, and joint pain relief.

“Castor oil is used in traditional medicine for various potential benefits like reducing inflammation and bacteria. People often use it for treating constipation and improving skin and hair,” Andrei Gherghina of Oceans Dermatology said. Applying castor oil in the belly button comes from ancient Ayurvedic traditions where it was thought to help with fertility, digestion, and skin health. These benefits aren’t backed by science as the belly button doesn’t have special absorption, and any effects are likely seen only where the oil is applied.”

Andrei Gherghina

Andrei Gherghina is board-certified in dermatology and Mohs surgery and practices cosmetic, surgical, and medical dermatology.

Health Benefits of Castor Oil Applied on the Belly Button

1. Improved Digestion

One of the touted benefits of applying castor oil on the belly button is improved digestion. Castor oil contains ricinoleic acid, a natural laxative that promotes bowel movement and relieves constipation. By applying the oil to the belly button, it is believed that the ricinoleic acid can act as a natural stimulant for the smooth movement of stool through the intestines.

2. Detoxification

Another claimed benefit of using castor oil in the belly button is detoxification. It is believed that the oil can help eliminate toxins and waste products from the body, allowing the liver and kidneys, which are involved in detoxification processes, to function more efficiently.

3. Pain Relief

Castor oil possesses analgesic properties, making it a potential remedy for pain and inflammation. When applied topically, it can provide relief from menstrual cramps, joint pain, and muscle soreness. Some individuals believe that applying it to the belly button can specifically target these areas and alleviate the associated discomfort.

4. Stress Reduction

Applying castor oil to the belly button is thought to have a calming effect on the body and mind. It is believed to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones, promoting relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety.

5. Boosting Immunity

Castor oil contains compounds that have immune-boosting properties. By applying it to the belly button, these beneficial compounds can be absorbed into the bloodstream, potentially strengthening the immune system and promoting overall wellness.

6. Enhancing Skin Health

Castor oil is commonly used in skincare products due to its moisturizing and nourishing properties. Applying it to the belly button may help improve skin health by hydrating and rejuvenating the skin from within.

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Potential Side Effects and Precautions

While castor oil is generally safe for most people to use on their skin, there are some potential side effects and precautions to consider.

“Generally, castor oil is safe for most people to use on their skin. Some people, however, may be allergic and experience rashes, itching, or swelling. Pregnant women should also avoid using castor oil as it can potentially induce labor,” Gherghina cautioned.

  1. Skin Irritation: Castor oil is a potent and concentrated substance, and applying it directly to the skin, including the belly button, can cause irritation, redness, itching, or a rash. It is advisable to perform a patch test on a small area of skin before applying it to the belly button.
  2. Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may have an allergic reaction to castor oil. If you develop symptoms like hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing after applying it to the belly button, immediate discontinuation of use and seeking medical attention is advised.
  3. Digestive Issues: Castor oil is known for its laxative properties when taken orally. When applied topically to the belly button, there is a possibility of absorption into the bloodstream, which in some cases might lead to digestive discomfort, such as nausea, cramping, or diarrhea.
  4. Infection Risk: The belly button is a moist area that can harbor bacteria. Applying castor oil to an infected or unclean belly button may exacerbate the infection or introduce new bacteria. It is necessary to keep the belly button clean and sterile before using any topical products.
  5. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals should exercise caution while applying castor oil to the belly button. There is limited research on the effects of castor oil during pregnancy, and it is best to consult with a healthcare professional before attempting any new practices.


While applying castor oil to the belly button has gained popularity due to its potential benefits, it is important to approach this practice with caution. The belly button does not have any special absorption properties, and any effects observed are likely limited to the area where the oil is applied. Castor oil can be beneficial when used as directed and applied to the skin for various purposes. However, it is essential to be aware of potential side effects and to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns or pre-existing conditions before incorporating castor oil into your regimen.

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Laura Pucker

A sociable content creator and social media expert, who loves dance, makeup, and has an upbeat attitude towards life.


Lindsey Chastain

Lindsey Chastain

A creative writer passionate about helping others succeed in living their best life, creating art and making a positive impact.


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