Ayurvedic Detox: Castor Oil + Ginger

I have met a new Ayurvedic Doctor in my pursuit to find someone local to refer: Dr. Modi, a fourth generation Ayurvedic Doctor in the east end of Toronto.  But I’m a skeptic, I have seen a few highly experienced Ayurvedic doctors in Toronto and found issue with them for a variety of reasons (another post for another day).   And, because I am particular about who we at Pure + Simple recommend our clients to, it was my Pitta nature that decided to test him with a series of questions and challenges.  The first, to tell me the state of my health (and not tell him that I myself am an Ayurvedic Practitioner).

He found I had excess Vata.  He then recommended that I do a detox to address my Vata, reducing it with a seven day castor oil and ginger tea cleanse.  He explained that it would relieve my excess mucous and poor circulation, because my actually my excess Vata was trapping my Kapha causing fluid congestion in the lungs and plugging my vessels up, impeding blood flow.  And, pacifying my Vata would translate into better digestion, absorption and resilience during this cold, depleting season.  Okay Modi, I thought, you’ve passed the first round (still keeping my cards close to me).

This was interesting to me becaue I have already thought about cleansing with castor oil.  In a previous podcast/ post I put up on acne, Dr. Suhas recommended it once per month for Pitta constitutions to purge the small intestine, heat and clear up the skin.  Castor oil itself has actually been said to be excellent for clearing up skin conditions.  Also, I know that it has been used as a powerful laxative for constipation, and I have always liked how it used an oily substance instead of a drying fibrous one.  But Dr. Modi, who may have sensed the poker game I was playing by myself,  sealed the deal by handing me a piece of paper that read the ancient Sanskrit verse: “THE LION OF CASTOR OIL ALONE CAN KILL THE MADDENED ELEPHANT Of ‘VATA‘ AS IT STAMPEDES THROUGH THE BODY”.

What a great saying.  Vata does stampede through the body.  Vata, the air energy which governs movement, is actually the force which moves the other doshas to become imbalanced and also the cause of dehydration, muscle wasting, insomnia, anxiety, irregular digestion (resulting in bloating).  Like a strong wind breezing through our bodies, Vata disrupts and dismantles many of our systems.  So, with that, I set out to do the cleanse – half because I wanted to test his methods, and half because health experimentation tickles me pink (!)

Now, I have done quite a few cleanses in my day – and this seemed like a very simple one.  It required that I drink a concoction of castor oil and ginger tea on an empty stomach every morning for seven days.  No long prep, no elimination diet… I could still eat – no problem right?  I started my easy-peasy detox by making the ginger tea.  The directions stated that it was an infusion of one teaspoon of ginger powder in a cup of water – which was to be reduced to 3/4 cups (I timed it the first time and found it took five minutes on high heat (lid off, using my shallow sauce pan).  This then had to be cooled to luke warm, and two teaspoons of castor oil added.  And drink.

Well call me a ninny, but the first morning I could only drink half of it.  The spiciness of the ginger along with the oily texture of castor oil made me feel like gagging.  I immediately felt nauseous.  Now, I know that sometimes when detoxing you need to endure a bit of roughness to get to the clean, shiny smoothness.  But I also believe that if you think you are going to throw up right away, don’t be afraid to take baby steps.  So, I started again the next day – and still, found I had could only drink half.  I was not a happy camper.

Adding to my dismay was the fact that I felt ill, my stomach was really bloated, but nothing was “cleansing” out.  This made me frown and like everything was bottle necking in my colon.  All that was happening was that I felt sick and had a headache, which lasted for about three to four hours.  It was then I decided that I had to break up my seven days and do this over the course of four weekends.  Not only would this let my tummy rest, but I also had so much work to do that I couldn’t afford feeling nauseous every day of the week.  And it was Ayurveda that taught me that being gentle on my body would garner the best results.

The next weekend was better.  I found that I drink the whole concoction, and while I still felt sick, it was less so.  And, by day two of weekend two, I started eliminating…a lot.  This, to me, was much more satisfying, because I don’t mind discomfort is I can see progress being made.

Which, brings me to weekend three (tomorrow).  And I have a mix of both dread and excitement.  Of course, I will be blogging my findings, and while its no fun leaving you hanging, what will be the most interesting is how I will feel after the cleanse is over.  I hope to feel less Vata, more vibrant and more robust.  And if not, well, it will have been an exercise of unnecessary grief.  But if it does, it could potentially change my entire life (one which is more grounded and balanced.  I’d love a proper night’s sleep too).  Maybe then I’ll consider showing Dr. Modi my hand.

14 responses to “Ayurvedic Detox: Castor Oil + Ginger

  1. Jess

    Very interesting, as always, thanks for sharing! I’m happy to hear you’ve connected with a new Ayurvedic practitioner in the Toronto area. Good idea keeping your cards close 😉 Best of luck tomorrow! I’m sure your body is thanking you for your baby-step approach.

    • kristen

      Yes Jess, I’m going to be super-vigilant with a new Ayurvedic practitioner. I was being completely serious when I said I went with test questions and all. Too bad Anna is away (correct?)

  2. Lindsey

    What a great post! Every time I read about your adventures I immediately want to set out and follow suit. But perhaps I should speak with this Dr. Modi first….

    • kristen

      Well, def wait until I’m done. I can be your canary in the cave!

  3. Kaumudi

    Hi Kristen,

    How was your overall experience with Dr. Modi? I was planning to try his treatment.


    • kristen

      I liked him – some things I agreed with and some I didn’t….I think its about how you as a person resonate with him. Healing sometimes is about relationships. But he’s definitely experienced.

  4. Alison Strieker

    Hi! I’m a bit confused…was the cleanse for 7 days in a row? Only?
    Thanks so much.

    • kristen

      Yep – you start with seven days and then you have your Vata imbalanced reassessed. Hope this helps!

  5. Deiniol

    Hi Kristen, Could you give me the contact information for Dr. Modi. I’m considering ayurvedic treatment for my diabetes. Thanks! Deiniol

  6. Karl

    Hi, i just got back from india after a 23 day pancha karma. Im still waiting to see the benefits. Did you complete this cleanse? Do you recommend the castor oil cleanse?
    Thanks! Id love to hear.

  7. Thanks Kristen, because of your blog, I got some new clients. Love what you are doing…. keep up the great work of promoting Ayurveda for current and next generation.

  8. Talara

    Hi Kristen,

    Would you still recommend Dr. Modi today? I am looking into ayurvedic treatment for some skin issues I am experiencing.


  9. GB

    I did not see the amount of castor oil to take. How much?

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