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Castor Information & Facts

Castor oil is the derivative of castor bean plant, which is native to the United States and Hawaii. The cold press method is used to derive castor oil from the castor bean seed. Castor oil is used for its diverse medicinal benefits. Castor and its diverse plant parts are used as a laxative, an effective healer of skin blemishes, for healthy, strong hair, and in certain cases, to induce delivery in pregnant women.

  • Castor yields oil with a high level of viscosity. Hence, it finds wide use as a lubricating agent in aircrafts and machines used for industrial purposes, apart from its health uses.
  • The castor cake after pressing the oil out is also used as a fertilizer.
  • Ingredients like ricinoleic acid, oleic acid, and linoleic acid are the main fatty acids found in castor oil.
  • Castor supplements are mostly in the form of soft gelatinous capsules.
    They are mostly used as mild laxatives or in castor oil packs.
  • Castor bean seed, from which castor oil is squeezed out, contains a toxic substance called ricin. This can prove fatal to children, on consumption.
  • Castor is mainly used externally to ward off skin ailments and sometimes, warts on it.

Castor And Hair

Ricinoleic acid that is present in castor possesses antimicrobial and antifungal properties. This is beneficial for hair care as it prevents hair fall due to infections on the scalp. The use of castor oil on hair promotes a thicker, healthier and rich mane. Application of Jamaican castor oil, a variety of castor oil, promotes health and gloss to the hair. This is less viscous and easy to apply on the hair and scalp. Though a compromised diet, stress, pollution from the environment, any underlying illness, and heredity do play a part in hair loss, the application of castor oil on the hair and scalp shows promising results. You can notice that your hair has gained volume, is no longer unmanageable or tangled, and appears well conditioned. Castor is also excellent to treat dandruff, a nagging issue for most women today. Stress, microbes, pollution, and an unhealthy diet again result in a dry, itching and flaky scalp. Castor oil soaks deep into the scalp and cleans off the layer of dandruff from it. The antifungal and antibacterial properties of the fatty acids in castor oil heal the scalp and keep it free of dandruff.

Apply castor oil using the tips of your fingers directly on your scalp. Try not to get much of the oil into your locks as their stickiness can attract more dust and dirt. Leave the oil to soak in for about an hour or if possible wear a night cap and sleep with it. Then, wash out and rinse your hair with a mild shampoo. Repeat this application once a month or in eight weeks, and you will notice the difference in your hair and scalp.

Castor And Health

The benefits of castor oil to health are also numerous. The fatty acids in castor oil and other essential nutrients help to keep the body in a healthy state.

Arthritis is an illness in the body characterized by inflammation of a joint. Arthritis can be of many kinds and is often accompanied with stiffness and pain, which often incapacitates free movement. The application of a hot castor oil pack goes a long way in relieving the symptoms of arthritis. Place a saturated ball of cotton over the site of the inflammation. Wrap it with a plastic cover and apply heat over the wrap with a hot water bottle or an electric heater. Leave the hot oil pack for about an hour. This may be repeated for a week and much relief can be felt. The high amount of ricinoleic acid in castor oil possesses anti-inflammatory properties. This brings soothing relief to stiff joints.

Constipation is quite common among men and women, young and old alike. The increasing intake of processed and highly refined foods, decreased intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and pure water, is what leads to difficulty in passing stools or constipation. Constipation is mostly accompanied by lower abdominal pain, bloating, or discomfort due to trapped gas. Castor oil has been used, since the days of old, as a strong laxative. A small amount of castor oil should be used for this matter. Too much intake of castor can lead to loose stools. In a span of 4 to 5 hours, the colon muscles are irritated and aid in the smooth expulsion of faecal matter. Castor oil does not absorb water from the intestinal cells and hence the stools pass out smoothly. This method of evacuating faecal matter has an added advantage over any other method as it empties the waste in the small intestine as well.

Castor oil is also believed to curb cancer of the skin and breast. A castor oil pack is placed on the site of the cancer. The oil soaks into the skin and on repeated application, the cancerous growth is believed to be contained better and not spread easily. The fatty acids and other nutrients in castor oil are believed to possess healing properties that draw out infections from the tissues of the body.

Castor oil has been used by nature therapists as a boost for fertility. A castor oil abdominal pack is put over the stomach so that it covers the uterus and liver. The intention of placing this castor oil saturated cloth and a hot water bottle over it is to permit the oil to soak in and be absorbed by the tissues of the underlying organs. Castor oil promotes the detoxification of the liver and removes any inflammation of the uterine wall, ovaries, or the ducts. This is considered to benefit and stimulate the uterus and ovaries. Once the toxins are removed from the body, the body is then more prepared and fertile to conceive.  

Castor And Skin

The antimicrobial and antifungal properties of castor oil are much sought after in order to clear blemishes from the skin. A castor oil pack on the skin provides the nutrients that heal the infections on the skin. Apply a hot washcloth over your face to open the pores. Then, smear in some castor oil. Wash off the oil after a couple of hours. Repeat this application every night for a week to see the difference. The loosening effect of castor oil on the skin also helps to remove blackheads better. Blackheads have deep seated roots, which can be dislodged after rubbing castor oil into the skin. Boils or deep-rooted skin infections can also be treated using castor oil. Place a sterile ball of cotton soaked in castor oil over the boil. Hold it in place with a wrap or band aid. In a couple of days, the boil will start to shrink as the oil draws out the infection from the abscess.

The triglyceride fatty acids in castor oil also restore the moisture balance of dry skin. Thus, dry and flaky skin can be avoided, especially during cold weather. Apply castor oil over the dry areas of your skin and sink into a tub of hot water. This will soften your skin. A castor oil pack also soothes skin that is inflamed with eczema. Eczema is a skin condition where the skin gets inflamed and red. Itchiness may also be accompanied with this condition. Being quite unsightly, eczema is also a reason for an individual to withdraw in a social circle. Wash the skin with hot water and then apply some castor oil. Now, wrap a plastic sheet around it and let it remain for about 15 minutes. Then, gently rinse off the oil. This soothes the skin and brings down the inflammation as well. Ricinoleic acid is considered to be the anti-inflammatory agent in castor oil. This is believed to be present in the highest concentration in any natural product.

Castor Supplements Side Effects

Castor supplements are sold over-the-counter and used by many. The natural, organic form of castor oil is the best way of using the product. In supplements, the possibility of contamination is high, and this can have adverse effects on health. Cold pressed or cold drawn castor oil contains maximum nutrients. A major warning against using castor supplements is the presence of castor beans in it.  Castor beans are highly toxic and only castor oil drawn from the beans is safe to use.

Side effects of the use of castor supplements also include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain or cramps, and nausea. Castor should be specifically avoided by pregnant or lactating women. Castor oil can also induce delivery and hence, raises the chances of a miscarriage. Castor supplements that include other natural herbs increase the possibility of allergic infections. It is considered better to use castor oil alone for any application. Castor oil should also not be considered the cure for all. The advice and treatment of a medical practitioner should always be sought to diagnose and treat any underlying ailment.

Submitted on January 16, 2014