Top 10 Benefits and Uses of Castor Oil

Castor oil is a multi-purpose vegetable oil that used for thousands of years. Castor oil is made by extracting oil from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant.

These seeds, which are known as castor beans, contain a toxic enzyme called ricin. However, the heating process that castor oil undergoes during production deactivates the ricin, allowing it to be used safely.

What Is Castor Oil?

Castor oil is a thick, odourless oil that is made from the seeds of the castor plant. Its use dates back to ancient Egypt, where it was first used as lamp fuel and later for medicinal and beauty treatments — Cleopatra reportedly believed the oil would brighten the whites of her eyes.

Today, most of the world’s castor oil is produced in India. Modern research backs up some of its traditional uses, including laxative effects, anti-inflammatory properties, and the ability to help induce labour

It is also used for various purposes such as cosmetic and medical purposes. People believe that it provides health benefits for the face and skin.

You can put it directly on your skin or take it orally in small amounts. Some people make castor oil packs that are made of cloth that is soaked in castor oil and applied to affected areas. Because of its potency, castor oil is not used in cooking or added to food. 

Nutrition Information of Castor Oil

A one-tablespoon serving of castor oil contains: 

  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 14 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Fibre: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams

Castor oil is a good source of: 

Some Fast Facts Aout Castor Oil

  • Castor oil comes from seeds of the Ricinus communis plant, which is native to Africa and Asia.
  • It is typically applied directly to the skin using a cotton ball.
  • Castor oil is relatively safe to use, but some people may have side effects after applying it to their skin.
  • Castor oil has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, moisturizing, and some other useful properties.
  • More than 90% of castor oil’s fatty acid content is ricinoleic acid.
  • Research shows that this omega-9 has pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Castor oil may help relieve issues like joint pain and menstrual cramps.

Potential Health Benefits of Castor Oil

Here are the potential benefits and uses of castor oil.

Laxative Properties

Castor oil is used to stimulate digestion, relieving temporary constipation. This effect is due to the oil’s high levels of ricinoleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid that acts as a natural laxative. 

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Studies show that castor oil’s ricinoleic acid reduces swelling and pain caused by inflammation. When castor oil is applied to the skin may reduce arthritis symptoms more effectively than prescription topical treatments.

May promote wound healing

Applying castor oil to wounds creates a moist environment that promotes healing and prevents sores from drying out.

Venelex, a popular ointment used in clinical settings to treat wounds, contains a mixture of castor oil and Peru balsam, a balm derived from the Myroxylon balsamum tree.

Venelex is used as a wound dressing for chronic and acute wounds and skin ulcers, including:

  • pressure ulcers
  • diabetic ulcers
  • burns
  • surgical wounds

Ricinoleic acid, the main fatty acid which is found in castor oil, has anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties. It may help reduce skin inflammation, support healing, and aid in pain reduction in people with wounds.

In a 2013 case study, treatment with a spray containing a combination of balsam of Peru, castor oil, and an enzyme called trypsin helped heal an abdominal surgical wound in an 81-year-old man who was unable to tolerate other forms of topical therapy.

Keep in mind that castor oil topical wound treatments contain a combination of ingredients, not just castor oil. Avoid applying castor oil to any wound without checking with a healthcare professional first.

Can castor oil support hair growth and scalp health?

Castor oil has moisturizing properties, which could help lubricate the hair shaft, increasing flexibility and decreasing the chance of breakage.

People are regularly using castor oil as part of their hair care routine but there’s currently no scientific evidence that castor oil helps promote hair health, stimulates hair growth, or reduces hair loss.

People also use castor oil for eyelash growth, but no scientific research has shown this is effective.

Castor oil is also commonly used for the treatment of dandruff, a common scalp condition characterized by dry, flaky skin on the head. While some effective hair treatments for dandruff do contain castor oil as an ingredient, there’s no evidence that castor oil on its own is effective for treating dandruff.

Castor oil could lead to a condition called acute hair felting in people with long hair. This condition causes the hair to become twisted and tangled, resembling a hard bird’s nest.

One case study reported that after a 20-year-old woman with long hair used a combination of coconut oil and castor oil on her hair, it became severely matted immediately after washing. The study authors suggested that the thickness of the castor oil combined with the women’s very long hair led to sudden felting.

Typically, acute hair felting can’t be treated and the hair must be cut off.

Even though this condition is rare, people with long hair should be cautious when using castor oil as a hair treatment.

Treats Some Skin Conditions

Castor oil can benefit overall skin health but may treat specific skin conditions such as acne, fungal infections, fungal acne. Studies showed that castor oil also fights fungal infections, which may help relieve hard-to-treat fungal acne

Other studies also found that castor oil helps in the treatment of melasmadandruff, and ringworm

Potential Risks of Castor Oil

When applied to the skin, castor oil is considered safe for most people to use. However, its dermatological effects are still being studied, so be sure to follow your doctor’s advice when treating any skin conditions.

If you take it internally, castor oil’s potent fatty acids can pose health risks. Castor oil is a powerful laxative. It is recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a way to relieve temporary constipation, but it isn’t suitable for long-term treatment. Use castor oil in small amounts and be sure to consult with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you.   

Some possible health risks associated with castor oil use include:

Allergies

Some people may be allergic to castor oil and experience itching, swelling, or rashes when using castor oil.

Physical Discomfort

Ingesting too much castor oil can cause nausea, cramps, dizziness, and muscle weakness. Before using it consult with a healthcare expert your doctor and don’t take it on an empty stomach. 

Pregnancy Concerns

Castor oil may help induce labour, pregnant women should avoid it. There is a lack of research on its effects on infants, children, and breastfeeding women. 

Medication Interactions

If taken with diureticsadrenal corticosteroids, or liquorice root, castor oil may reduce the potassium content in your body to dangerously low levels.

Overdose

Taken orally, large amounts of castor oil can be poisonous. Symptoms of overdose include abdominal cramps, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

Digestive System Damage

Long-term laxative use may damage your digestive system and can even cause electrolyte abnormalities or dehydration. While castor oil can provide occasional constipation relief, you should consult with your doctor to discuss treatment options before consuming it. 

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