Why Is Everyone Putting Castor Oil In Their Belly Button?

As strange as it sounds, belly button oiling may come with some surprising health benefits.

By Renée Walton3 min read
Pexels/Lolita Zyablova

I like to think that I’m up to date on the current natural health trends, but this one tripped me up. Maybe you’ve noticed it too: Your favorite influencer sharing her wellness-girl bedtime routine, complete with chamomile tea, mouth taping, magnesium supplements, and low lighting. It’s all tricks you’ve heard before…until she starts rubbing castor oil in her belly button. Trust me, I was just as baffled as you.  

Castor Oil Benefits 

But perhaps the idea of navel oiling isn’t all that strange, if you think about it. After all, castor oil has been trending on social media recently, with influencers proclaiming the oil’s long list of health benefits. Everything from digestive discomfort to period cramps and even infertility can be remedied with castor oil, according to social media. Some have even claimed that using castor oil regularly has helped them reach their weight loss goals. All of these health benefits are likely due to castor oil’s rich antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities.

Castor oil is trending in the skincare world as well. According to some users, applying the oil topically as part of an oil cleanse can help clear up blemishes and give you bright, soft, healthy looking skin. 

Additionally, castor oil has been touted as an eyelash serum for longer, fuller lashes. Again, this is likely due to the oil’s rich antibacterial makeup, and because of the ricinoleic acid in the oil, which helps stimulate hair growth. 

Okay, but Why Apply It in the Belly Button?

So you know why castor oil is so great, but maybe you’re wondering what difference it makes if it’s applied in the belly button or just around it. The answer is rooted in the Pechoti method – the Ayurvedic theory that the pechoti gland located near the belly button allows you to absorb substances into your body. According to Ayurvedic practitioner Dr. Smita Naram, “The navel is the source of life and development. It is the center of one’s body and one of the most important sources of nourishment and growth. The method can promote an overall rejuvenating and healthy lifestyle.” 

Castor oil packs have become popular in recent years because of their multitude of health benefits. Navel oiling has similar effects, since some of the oil you apply to your belly in a castor oil pack is going to end up in your belly button. But oiling just your belly button is a more direct way to get castor oil’s benefits, and some may see it as less complicated. 

The science isn’t actually clear on how belly button oiling works, though. Some practitioners believe it has something to do with umbilical cord tissue in the navel. Others say that the belly button is such a potent absorption point because it’s abundant in veins and capillaries. But many medical professionals doubt these claims, stating that the belly button is a closed orifice with no special absorption qualities, so putting oil in it would be no different than applying it to your elbow or leg or any other part of your body.

Even if the science doesn’t back it up, the anecdotal evidence of belly button oil therapy’s success can’t be ignored. People all over TikTok and Instagram claim the practice helped improve digestion, alleviate period cramps, clear up blemishes, fight against infection, and even assist with weight loss. Many claim that it’s also a great addition to your nightly routine since it helps you unwind if you combine the practice with abdominal massage. 

How To Oil Your Navel 

The method for navel oiling is simple. To start, clean your belly button with warm water so you can start with a fresh slate. Take the chill out of your castor oil by running it under warm water for several seconds; this will help with absorption, and it makes the whole routine feel more soothing and relaxing. You’ll then apply 2-3 drops of oil using a dropper. (Tip: This is the perfect way to reuse those extra glass serum dropper bottles that you don’t know what to do with, but feel bad getting rid of.) 

Some holistic health providers recommend letting the oil settle in your belly button for 15-20 minutes and then wiping away the excess, but others say you can cover your belly button with a cotton ball and let the oil settle overnight while you sleep. It seems like it’s a matter of personal preference, but one practitioner did warn that leaving the castor oil on for an extended period can cause digestive discomfort due to its powerful detoxification (i.e. laxative) properties.

As with anything, quality matters, so definitely opt for an organic variety, and look for hexane-free and cold-pressed or expeller-pressed to ensure the highest standards for safety and efficacy. 

Other Oils To Try 

Castor oil is currently trending, but you can practice navel oiling with other oils too. Olive oil might be a good option to start with, since it’s rich in antioxidants and you likely have a bottle in your kitchen cupboard right now. Jojoba oil is another popular option and has a hydrating effect on the skin. Ginger oil is great for digestion, and oregano oil can also be used for an immunity boost. Just remember to use a carrier oil – like olive or castor –  when navel oiling with essential oils, as they can cause skin irritation. 

Closing Thoughts 

There may not be much hard evidence on whether or not navel oiling actually does anything, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that says it does. It doesn’t hurt to try it out (as long as you monitor its potential detox effects), and you might just find an easy, noninvasive solution to a frustrating health issue. 

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