A long time ago, the castor bean plant (Ricinus communis) was referred to as the “Palma Christe”, due to the shape of its leaves which was believed to resemble the palm of Christ.
Castor oil is derived from its seeds, and it has been used as a remedy for thousands of years by folk healers. The ancient Egyptians used it as a natural skin care product and to treat eye irritations.
It has also been commonly used in the Ayurvedic medicine, due to its healing, antibacterial, and digestive-soothing properties. Parents often gave it to their children as a potent immunity-boosting remedy.
This oil has been commonly used to fight constipation treat skin infections, and improve nail health.
Yet studies have shown that it effectively supports the immune system, as it elevates white blood cells and the count of T-11 cells produced within the body’s lymphocytes that fight bacteria, viruses, fungi, and cancer cells.
Chemically, castor oil is classified as a type of triglyceride fatty acid, and about 90 percent of its fatty acid content is one rare compound known as ricinoleic acid.
It also contains some beneficial salts and esters that primarily soothe the skin. In 2002, the International Journal of Toxicology reported that castor oil and hydrogenated castor oil were used in 769 and 202 cosmetic products, respectively.
Being an unsaturated fatty acid, ricinoleic acid has numerous healing qualities, as follows:
- Heals acne
- Treats constipation
- Fights skin conditions and infections
- Boosts circulation
- Boosts hair growth
- Supports the lymphatic system
- prevents the growth of viruses, bacteria, yeasts, and molds
- treats toenail fungus
- Soothes sunburns
- treats skin inflammation, abrasions, fungal infections, ringworm, keratoses
- soothes itching and swelling
- helps in pregnancy and inducing labor
- hydrates chapped lips
Since it supports the lymphatic system, it effectively strengthens immunity, as the lymphatic system, is spread throughout the whole body in small tubular structures, and it absorbs and eliminates excess fluids, proteins and waste materials from cells.
Lymph nodes within these tubes serve as natural filters for toxins, and they pump out antibodies in the case of health issues in order to protect from foreign proteins or bacteria.
If the function of the lymphatic system is impeded, it leads to various issues, like the failure of numerous healthy cells and possibly degeneration and destruction of organs. The lymphatic system also absorbs lingering fat molecules within the small intestine.
These are 10 important uses of castor oil:
- Heals Dry, Irritated, Sun-Burnt or Acne-Prone Skin
Castor oil heals the skin, moisturizes it, treats inflammation, and delays aging signs, like wrinkles and fine lines, since it boosts the production of elastin and collagen.
Also, the ricinoleic acid fights mild acne, by penetrating deeply into the skin and destroying bacteria. It unclogs pores and soothes the irritated skin, treats the cause of breakouts, like hormonal imbalances and an unhealthy balance of bacteria within the gut.
Here is how to use it to improve skin health:
- To treat acne, dab some castor oil on the area using a cotton swab.
- To prevent acne, wash the face with warm water to open the pores, and massage castor oil into it. Leave it to act overnight.
- Mix 1/4 cup of castor oil and 3/4 cup virgin coconut oil, and apply the mixture to the skin to hydrate it.
- Mix a teaspoon with one egg yolk, and prepare your own fast-acting facial mask. Leave it to act for 15 minutes, and wash it off.
- Mix a quarter cup of castor oil with jojoba oil, olive oil, or grapeseed oil, and gently massage the skin to moisturize it. Leave the treatment on the face until the next morning.
- Mix castor oil with coconut oil in equal amounts and apply the mixture to the affected areas to soothe sunburns, and to hydrate chapped lips.
- Note that castor oil and ricinoleic acid improve the transdermal penetration of other chemicals, so you can also use this oil to improve the absorption of other natural ingredients.
- Improves Immune Function
Since this beneficial oil boosts blood flow, supports the function of the lymphatic system, and improves thymus gland health, it is a powerful immune booster.
Studies have discovered that participants who have used abdominal castor oil packs have greatly boosted the production of lymphocytes, or the immune system’s natural “disease-fighters”, compared with patients using placebo packs.
Also, the lymphatic system affects the circulatory and digestive systems, so castor oil is a natural treatment in the case of digestion issues, improves heart health, and helps in body detoxification.
Castor oil is hydrolyzed in the small intestine by pancreatic enzymes, which stimulates the release of glycerol and ricinoleic acid, as well as other beneficial metabolites.
- Relieves Constipation
Its mild laxative properties help with straining during defecation and feeling of complete evacuation after a bowel movement, and the ricinoleic acid helps digestion, boosts nutrient absorption and ensures regular cleansing of the system.
Castor oil also relieves constipation and regulates the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut, and thus prevents cramping, bloating, constipation, leaky gut syndrome and other symptoms of IBS.
- Boosts Circulation
When the function of the lymphatic system is improved, the proper flow of blood is ensured too.
The role of the circulatory system is to pump blood to and from the heart and thus transports oxygen throughout the body through small arteries and capillaries. Blood exchanges nutrients and oxygen with cellular waste, and thus detoxifies the body.
- Lowers Symptoms of Arthritis
Castor oil soothes joint swelling, inflammation, and pain due to arthritis, due to the potent anti-inflammatory properties. Just massage the painful areas with it, and apply a pack of hot water over the area to boost drainage and absorption.
- Fights Skin Infections and Wounds
The state of the immune system, gut, and hormonal balance can easily be shown on the skin. Yet, since it boosts blood flow and circulation, castor oil treats infections and heals wounds.
It also fights various skin disorders as it has strong antifungal, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. This oil also boosts lymph flow and this accelerates the elimination of cellular-related toxins, and treats redness, swelling, and inflammation.
- Treats Toenail or Fingernail Fungus, Moles and Cysts
Castor oil effectively treats moles, cysts, and fungal infections. Just apply a bit of castor oil with a small amount of baking soda to the affected areas. Since it balances gut bacteria and eliminates lingering toxins, it also prevents the development of fungus.
- Induces Labor
For hundreds of years, this oil was used to be given to pregnant women at full term orally in order to accelerate the uterus contractions. The ricinoleic acid actually activates EP3 prostanoid receptors in the uterus.
- Improves hair health
This oil boosts the growth of the hair, and makes it shinier, stronger, thicker, and dandruff-free. It boosts the circulation on the scalp to the follicles, and thus stimulates the growth of hair.
You should massage some warmed-up castor oil into the hair and scalp, or apply a mask of castor oil by massaging the roots and up to the hair ends. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties prevent dandruff and scalp infections.
Mix the juice of half a lemon with one tablespoon of castor oil and one tablespoon of olive oil and apply the mask to the hair roots. Rinse after half an hour.
- Helps Balance Hormones and Improve Libido
Healthy hormones require a proper absorption of fat molecules within the digestive tract, so castor oil naturally balances them. This also relieves PMS symptoms, like mood swings, depression, and fatigue, and improves libido.
How to use castor oil
You can apply this oil topically, use it as a massage oil, or use oil packs. The oil packs boost topical absorption through the pores of the skin, so they are often believed to be the most effective use of the oil.
In case you consume it, you need to use the highest quality, cold-pressed, pure castor oil. When it comes to the dosage it depends on your age, the issue you are planning to treat, your existing medical conditions, and more.
Therefore, carefully follow the instructions on the package, and never increase the dose. Also, start slowly and do not take it more than a week unless you are advised thus by a doctor.
In most cases, adults should take a teaspoon daily on an empty stomach. This optimizes general health, boosts blood flow, and ensures regular bowel movements.
In the case of children, the common dosage is half a teaspoon daily. As a laxative formula, you can find it in capsule and liquid form. The latter can have a foul smell, color, and taste, so dilute it in juice prior to taking it.
The Food and Drug Administration classifies this oil as generally recognized as safe for both topical and internal use, and as effective as a stimulant laxative.
According to the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives, the acceptable daily castor oil intake for adults should be up to 0.7 milligrams/kilograms body weight.
Yet, the use of castor oil in higher doses might cause digestive issues such as diarrhea or cramping, nausea, and mild gut irritations. Pregnant women should not take it before they consult their doctor.
When it comes to its topical use, the risks are extremely low, as it is completely natural. It does not cause allergies, skin sensitivities, or irritations.
Yet, just to be on the safe side, keep it away from babies and pets, avoid applying it close to the eyes and nose, and start slowly and perform a skin patch test on a small skin area before applying it in larger amounts.