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What is Castor Oil and What are its Benefits? (Types, Uses, Side Effects, and More)

What is Castor Oil and What are its Benefits? (Types, Uses, Side Effects, and More)

Castor oil might just be the next trendy plant oil. Benefits include detoxification, skin health, constipation relief, cooling sunburn, and improves hair loss.

castor oil

Castor oil is a vegetable oil obtained by pressing the seeds of the castor oil plant (Ricinus communist). Image/Shutterstock

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You’ve likely heard that organic plant oils are beneficial. Castor oil is a lesser-known oil than many of today’s trendy plant oils like coconut, avocado, or jojoba. Extracted from the castor seed, you’ll find derivatives used often in the food industry and natural beauty products.

 

About Castor Oil

Native to India, this thick viscous oil has bragging rights as an old-fashioned natural remedy from your grandmother’s era. Today, this oil holds remarkable health benefits for just about every part of your body including your heart, skin, brain, and even your hair. Interestingly, note that the castor seed itself can be deadly.

This pale yellow oil is obtained by crushing the seeds of the castor plant. It’s a promising triglyceride fatty acid and boasts as a healthy unsaturated omega-9 fat.

This primal oil was once called Palma Christe because people thought that the leaves resembled the hands of Christ. The Ebers Papyrus is an ancient medical book. Instructions from this ancient manual mention that the Egyptians applied castor oil topically as early as 1550 B.C.

 

Best Type of Castor Oil

I bet purity matters to you. To meet this goal I recommend cold-pressed hexane-free castor oil. Look for certified organic.

Cold-pressed manufacturing adds zero harmful chemicals. No heat is applied. The technique ensures that the structure of the oil components remains intact, ensuring purity.

All beneficial nutrients remain in the oil with the cold-pressed process. This makes the oil safe for all skin types and allergic free. It is generally safe for oral intake.

As a warning, do not ingest lesser made versions of castor oil, as you may have adverse reactions. Check your product label to make sure it is organic, cold-pressed hexane-free.

 

Common Benefits and Uses

  • Improves skin health
  • Supports immune/lymphatic function
  • Treats arthritis
  • Relieves constipation
  • Sunburn treatment
  • Hair health including scalp, eyebrows, and lashes
  • Detox remedy with castor oil packs

 

Improves Skin Health

You’ve probably heard that castor oil is known as a skincare rock-star. Commercially, it’s used in hundreds of skincare products. Why? Primarily because of its deep lubricating properties which can stimulate collagen.

Hallmarks of castor oil include ricinoleic acid, oleic acid, and linoleic acid, all of which are lubricating. These beneficial fatty acids lock moisture deep into your skin layers, minimizing dry wrinkly skin.

Say goodbye to mild acne and acne scars. You can thank the fatty acid composition of Castor oil which acts as a mild antibacterial. Just rub a touch of this gorgeous oil onto your infected skin for swift gentle healing, calming irritated skin.

A Pubmed Study observed the wound-healing effects of a castor oil blend in 861 nursing home residents, who had uncomfortable pressure ulcers from prolonged pressure on the skin. Castor oil was the champion. Greater healing rates and shorter healing times were noted versus alternative methods.

It has acted as a topical antibiotic. Healing small wounds is a snap. Massaged onto the surface of your skin, it improves cell growth and the overall appearance.

 

Supports Immune/Lymphatic Function

When it is used regularly it can support immune function. Your immune system is a collection of processes that work to protect your body against disease. (source)

Castor oil supports your bodies:

  • Lymphatic drainage
  • Thymus gland health
  • Blood flow
  • Liver

The thick yellow oil helps your body promote increased levels of lymphocytes which are a type of white blood cell called a leukocyte. Importantly, they are stored and released into your lymphatic tissue from your lymph nodes, thymus gland, and tissue from your small intestine. All of which encourage optimal immune function.

 

Treats Arthritis

Common symptoms of joint stiffness, swelling, pain, and limited range of motion are highlights of arthritis. Unfortunately, this ailment affects every age, gender, and race. The high percentage of ricinoleic acid found in castor oil is a wonderful gem that reduces inflammation in arthritic populations.

Because the oil is readily absorbed into the skin, its anti-inflammatory properties work beautifully. This luxurious oil is a potent home remedy that you can easily use to manage arthritis, bringing it under control.

Would you like to kiss your joint pain goodbye? Use Castor oil routinely.

 

Relieves Constipation

People have used this oil as a laxative since the ancient of days. More recently, scientists have incredibly figured out how this works in your digestive system.

When your digestive system is working optimally, you should have one to two bowel movements a day. Yes, a day!

Any decrease in bowel movements may mean you are constipated. Straining, bloating, hard stools, pain, and gas all point to constipation and digestive issues. A descriptive word picture for a nearly perfect bowel movement might be a big-black-banana!

Beautiful ricinoleic acid, which makes up about 90% of castor oil, has been found to bind to receptors on the smooth muscle of your intestinal wall. This binding causes those muscles to contract and push out the stool.

A recent study in Pubmed found that it reduced straining, controlling all negative issues of constipation.

Directions to take castor oil internally, relieving constipation:

  • Take 1 tsp in the morning and see if you get relief.
  • If not, go to 2 tsp the following morning.

As a gentle warning, be careful not to use castor oil long-term for constipation. Like any laxative, it may weaken the muscle tone in your intestines.

 

Sunburn Treatment

Most of us adore the warm, bright, sunny days of summer. Basking in the glorious sunshine sometimes makes us absent-minded about sunburn. In the excitement of obtaining our vitamin D3 quota, we often find that we are not ready for this sudden surge of UV rays.

We need to be careful.

As I’ve mentioned above, the star ingredient in castor oil is ricinoleic acid. It makes this oil a perfect tool for healing sunburn. Ricinoleic acid is a remedy for all kinds of burns, including sunburn.

Healing sunburn is fairly simple. Applying the viscous oil directly onto your skin can bring an instant feeling of relief. Castor oil’s lubricating and antimicrobial properties swiftly aid in accelerating the healing process of sunburn.

 

Hair Health – Including Scalp, Eyebrows, and Eyelashes

Most of us aren’t born with long luxurious hair, eyebrows, or eyelashes. We often envy those with thick beautiful hair.

The hype around Castor oil growing hair remains plentiful. Most of the evidence lacks scientific clout and is completely anecdotal. Still, people from all walks of life remain relentless, convinced that it helped them grow thicker and longer hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

I located a study where researchers found that the ricinoleic acid in castor oil could inhibit PGD2. Men with male pattern baldness associated with Androgenetic Alopeciahave have high levels of prostaglandin D2 or PGD2 in the scalp. Ricinoleic acid inhibits PGD2 production, assisting in hair loss treatment.

 

How to use castor oil to grow hair

  • Put on an old crummy shirt as the oil may soak and stain clothing.
  • Some folks use rubber gloves, some don’t.
  • Begin applying the castor oil into your scalp in sections.
  • Comb the oil through the rest of your hair down to the ends.
  • Put on a plastic shower cap or wrap your hair in plastic wrap for about an hour or two.
  • Shampoo and condition your hair, rinsing out the oil.

Note: There’s currently no scientific evidence to show that castor oil can promote hair growth.

If you’re thinking of using castor oil as a remedy for hair loss, remember that hair loss may be the sign of an underlying health problem. Therefore, it’s crucial to talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you’re experiencing unexplained hair loss.

How to use Castor oil for eyebrows and eyelashes

  • Using a clean mascara wand, brush the oil onto your brows and lashes every night before bed.
  • Cleanse these areas as usual in the morning.

 

What are the side effects associated with using Castor oil?

Castor oil has a range of promising benefits, it is important to note that the scientific evidence supporting many of these claims is not conclusive, and much of the evidence tends to be anecdotal rather than scientific.

Skin irritation and the development of rashes are the most commonly reported side effects.

  • dizziness, abdominal cramps
  • diarrhea, nausea, pelvic congestion

This article does not contain all possible side effects and others may occur. Check with your physician for additional information about side effects.

Note: If you experience any skin reactions, discontinue the treatment.

 

Castor Oil Packs

I was first introduced to castor oil packs by one of my brilliant functional instructors. Eager to learn, I explored the topic using the internet. The oily pack encourages an efficient external form of detoxification.

Lymphatic congestion leads to inflammation and all inflammation eventually leads to disease. Your body holds miles of lymphatic tubules that allow waste to be collected and transported to your blood for elimination. This is known as lymphatic drainage.

The lymphatic system is often neglected. When it’s not working properly, waste and toxins can build up and make you sick. Castor oil packs encourage lymphatic drainage by stimulating your lymph and liver function.

In an article written by Kaite Wells, February 1, 2018, she states, “In short, castor oil packs have been said to help detoxify the liver naturally, support uterine and ovarian health, improve lymphatic circulation, and reduce inflammation.”

The idea is to soak castor oil onto a piece of flannel. You leave this on your skin for at least an hour with a mild heat source (like a heating pad).

There are many DYI recipes for castor oil packs all over the internet. They are easy to make. However, being a fairly tidy person, I find that they are too messy for my taste.

An alternative to making a castor oil pack is to purchase one from Queen Of Thrones. Dr. Marisol is an expert in castor oil therapy. Her package is organized, instructional, and easy to use.

I highly recommend it. Have fun!

Feedback:

References

Health Insiders uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

1. Tunaru S, et al. Castor oil induces laxation and uterus contraction via ricinoleic acid activating prostaglandin EP3 receptors. PNAS 2012;109(23):9179-9184. DOI: 1073/pnas.1201627109
2. Kelly AJ, et al. Castor oil, bath and/or enema for cervical priming and induction of labour. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(2):CD003099. PMID: 11406076
3. Arslan GG, and Eser I. An examination of the effect of castor oil packs on constipation in the elderly. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2011 Feb;17(1):58-62. PMID: 21168117
4. Castor Oil: Properties, Uses, and Optimization of Processing Parameters in Commercial Production https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015816/
5. Tewari DD. A historical policy review of success of castor revolution in Gujarat, India. J Hum Ecol New Delhi. 2012;38(3):213.
6. Salimon J, Noor DAM, Nazrizawati AT, Firdaus MM, Noraishah A. Fatty acid composition and physicochemical properties of Malaysian castor bean Ricinus communis L. seed oil. Sains Malays. 2010;39(5):761–764.
7. McMullen R., Jachowicz J. (2003). Optical properties of hair: effect of treatments on luster as quantified by image analysis. Journal of Cosmetic Sciences, 54(4), p. 335-51.
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Laurie Chocholous, NTP

Laurie Chocholous, NTP is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. Laurie is a graduate of the Nutritional Therapy Association. She is a con...

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