Castor Oil Uses for Skin and Hair Care One of the most common castor oil uses is for skin and hair care. Castor oil is an excellent emollient and humectant which helps to lock moisture into the skin and hair to keep it soft, smooth and supple. Because of these properties it is excellent at reducing the appearance of wrinkles and scars.
The nutrients in the oil penetrate deep into the skin and nourish the hair roots encouraging hair growth. For this reason some of the most popular castor oil uses are for treating baldness and thinning hair. Castor oil is also very soothing and it has excellent anti-inflammatory properties, making it ideal for treating sunburn and minor skin irritations.
The oil has antibacterial and antiviral properties and one of its main constituents – ricinoleic acid – is a powerful antifungal agent. There are many castor oil uses as anti-fungal remedies with the oil a great natural choice for treating fungal skin infections such as athlete’s foot and ringworm, as well as viral skin afflictions such as warts.
Castor Oil Uses for the Treatment of Medical Conditions The wide range of castor oil uses were known to many ancient civilizations. At that time the structure of the oil was not known and its constituent minerals were a mystery. All that mattered was that it was beneficial for skin and hair care and it helped people to recover from illnesses more quickly.
Today we know that castor oil contains Vitamin E which is a powerful anti-oxidant which helps the body to eliminate of dangerous free radicals. Vitamin E is also important for immune system function as well as many metabolic processes. It also helps to keep the blood vessels clear and is vital in the maintenance of healthy skin.
Castor oil also contains many compounds which have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, in addition to the oil being an excellent source of omega 6 fatty acids. These are used by the body to produce prostaglandins and other essential biological molecules. Because of the health benefits of all of these constituent compounds there are many castor oil uses in medicine. Castor oil uses in pharmaceuticals are extensive, with the oil added to many modern drugs to improve function. Many of the uses of castor oil many not yet be known and further research is likely to reveal even more health giving benefits of the oil.
History of the Castor Seed: Ricinus Communis Castor oil comes from the castor seed, Ricinus communis, which has a very unusual chemical composition.
Castor oil is a triglyceride, comprised of fatty acids, 90 percent of which is ricinoleic acid.
This unique fatty acid is found in lower concentrations in a few other seeds and oils (0.27 percent in cottonseed oil and 0.03 percent in soybean oil) and is thought to be responsible for castor oil's unique healing properties.
The castor seed plant is native to India.
Centuries ago, the plant was referred to as "Palma Christe" because the leaves were said to resemble the hand of Christ.
This association likely arose out of people's reverence for the plant's healing abilities.
It was later adopted for medicinal use in Ancient Egypt, China, Persia, Africa, Greece, Rome, and eventually in 17th Century Europe and the Americas. Castor oil is now widely used in industry. The stem of the plant is used in the textile industry, particularly in Russia, where castor oil is known as "Kastorka." The oil has a very consistent viscosity and won't freeze, which makes it ideal for lubricating equipment in severely cold climates.
Modern non-medicinal uses for castor oil include:
● Food additive and flavoring agent
● Mold inhibitor
● Ingredient in skin care products and cosmetics (lipstick, shampoo, soap, and others)
● Used in the manufacturing of plastics, rubbers, synthetic resins, fibers, paints, varnishes, lubricants, sealants, dyes, and leather treatments; the lubricants company Castrol took its name from castor oil
Castor oil was first used as an aircraft lubricant in World War I. So, castor oil has a number of handy industrial uses. But did you know that the castor seeds from which castor oil is made can be DEADLY?
Part of the Castor Seed Heals—But Another Part Kills! The potent toxin ricin is made from a protein in the castor seeds that, if ingested (orally, nasally, or injected), gets into the ribosomes of your cells where it prevents protein synthesis, which kills the cells. Ricin is made from the "mash" that is left over after processing castor seeds into oil. Just 1 milligram of ricin is fatal if inhaled or ingested, and much less than that if injected. Eating just 5 to 10 castor seeds would be fatal.
Once poisoned, there's no antidote, which is why ricin has been used as a chemical warfare agent. Even though such a toxic component is also derived from this seed, castor oil isn't considered dangerous.
According to the International Journal of Toxicology's Final Report on Castor Oil , you don't have to worry about castor oil being contaminated by ricin, because ricin does not "partition" into the castor oil. Castor oil has been added to cosmetic products for many years, without incident. For example, castor oil and hydrogenated castor oil were reportedly used in 769 and 202 cosmetic products, respectively, in 2002.
The U.S. FDA gives castor oil a "thumbs up," deeming it "generally regarded as safe and effective" for use as a stimulant laxative. The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives has established an acceptable daily castor oil intake of up to 0.7 mg/kg body weight. This amounts to, roughly, one tablespoon for adults and one teaspoon for children. Taking castor oil orally usually results in a "purging" of the digestive tract in about four to six hours.
According to the International Castor Oil Association v, castor oil studies in which people were dosed with castor oil at dietary concentrations as high as 10 percent for 90 days did not produce any ill effects.
In spite of the fact that U.S. FDA and the International Castor Oil Association have pronounced castor oil to be safe, if you are going to try it, as I've mentioned previously, proceed with extreme caution because a number of negative side effects have been reported.
Castor Oil is NOT without Side Effects
Castor Seed Plant
Castor oil's main side effects fall into the categories of skin reactions and gastrointestinal upset, which isn't terribly surprising given the agent's actions on your intestinal wall.
Castor oil is broken down by your small intestine into ricinoleic acid, which acts as an irritant to your intestinal lining. This effect is what gives castor oil the ability to reverse constipation—but it's also the reason that some people report digestive discomfort, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal side effects. If you suffer from cramps, irritable bowel, ulcers, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, colitis, prolapses, or have recently undergone surgery, you should probably avoid castor oil due to these possible adverse reactions.
Although castor oil has been traditionally used to help stimulate labor in healthy pregnant women, there are widespread reports of nausea, including one study in 2001 that found nausea to be almost universally experienced by these women.
A Home Remedy that's Survived for Millennia Adverse effects notwithstanding, Indians would traditionally boil seed kernels or hulls in milk and water, and then consume the brew to relieve arthritis, lower back pain, and sciatica. According to Williams' article., castor seed plants are widely used in India for all sorts of medical problems, including the following:
● Inflammatory bowel disease
● Bladder and vaginal infections
Canary Islanders made poultices from the leaves of the castor plant to treat gynecological problems. Nursing mothers applied these poultices to their breasts to increase milk secretion and relieve inflammation of their mammary glands, and applied the poultice to their abdomens to promote normal menstruation. The topical absorption of castor oil is the basis for more modern "castor oil packs," which I'll be discussing later in detail.
Modern Medicinal Uses for Castor Oil In general, the reported medicinal uses of castor oil fall into the following five general categories:
1. Gastrointestinal remedy
2. Antimicrobial (antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal)
3. Labor stimulant
4. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic
5. Immune system and lymphatic stimulant
The oil's benefits can be derived by topical application, and it appears to be useful for a variety of skin conditions like keratosis, dermatosis, wound healing, acne, ringworm, warts and other skin infections, sebaceous cysts, itching, and even hair loss. Castor oil and ricinoleic acid also enhance the absorption of other agents across your skin.
Studies Support Castor Oil's Efficacy as an Antimicrobial, Anti-Inflammatory, and Immunostimulant While castor oil has been thoroughly investigated for its industrial use, only a minimal amount of research has been directed toward its medicinal benefits. That said, the healing properties of castor oil appear to have survived countless generations of scrutiny.
I believe it has enough history behind it to at least warrant greater scientific exploration, and perhaps a little careful at-home experimentation on your own. Oftentimes, modern day scientific studies end up validating thousands of years of "folklore." Castor oil studies are hard to track down, but Dr. Mercola summarized these studies in the table below.
Castor oil has been found to have a strong suppressive effect on some tumors.
An Indian study in 2011 found that castor leaf extract showed better antibacterial activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria than Gentamycin (their standard for comparison).
A 2010 study found that castor oil packs were an effective means of decreasing constipation in the elderly.
This 2009 study found that castor oil effectively relieves arthritis symptoms.
A 1999 study was carried out to determine whether or not topical castor oil would stimulate the lymphatic system. The findings were positive. After a two-hour treatment with castor oil packs, there was a significant increase in the number of T-11 cells, which increased over a seven-hour period following treatment.
In this 2000 study of the effects of ricinoleic acid on inflammation, researchers found it exerted "capsaicin-like" anti-inflammatory properties.
Patients with occupational dermatitis may have a positive reaction to castor oil or ricinoleic acid.
Castor Oil May Promote Healing by Boosting Your Lymphatic System One of the more compelling health benefits, if true, is castor oil's support of your immune system. And this healing property does not require you ingest the oil, but only apply it externally.
The benefits of castor oil packs were popularized by the late psychic healer Edgar Cayce, and then later researched by primary care physician William McGarey of Phoenix, Arizona, a follower of Cayce's work and the author of The Oil That Heals. McGarey reported that, when used properly, castor oil packs improve the function of your thymus gland and other components of your immune system. More specifically, he found in two separate studies that patients using abdominal castor oil packs had significant increases in lymphocyte production compared to placebo packs.
Lymphocytes are your immune system's disease-fighting cells and are produced and stored mainly in your lymphatic tissue i(thymus gland, spleen, and lymph nodes). Hundreds of miles of lymphatic tubules allow waste to be collected from your tissues and transported to your blood for elimination, a process referred to as lymphatic drainage. When your lymphatic system is not working properly, waste and toxins can build up and make you sick.
Lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease.
This is where castor oil comes in. When castor oil is absorbed through your skin (according to Cayce and McGarey), your lymphocyte count increases. Increased lymphocytes speed up the removal of toxins from your tissues, which promotes healing.
Castor Oil Packs a Punch, Topically Castor oil "packs" can be an economical and efficient method of infusing the ricinoleic acid and other healing components of castor oil directly into your tissues. You would be wise to do a "patch test" prior to applying a castor oil pack to make sure you aren't allergic to the oil.
There are several ways to use castor oil topically. You can simply rub castor oil onto an affected area of your skin. Or, you can affix a Band-Aide soaked in castor oil if only a very small area needs to be treated. For larger or more systemic applications, it can be used as massage oil, which is reported especially effective when applied along your spinal column, massaged along your lymphatic drainage pathways. But the coup de grace of castor oil therapy is the "castor oil pack."
To make a castor oil pack, you will need the following supplies:
1. High quality cold-pressed castor oil (see last section of this article)
2. A hot water bottle or heating pad
3. Plastic wrap, sheet of plastic, or plastic garbage bag
4. Two or three one-foot square pieces of wool or cotton flannel, or one piece large enough to cover the entire treatment area when folded in thirds
5. One large old bath towel
Below are instructions for making and using a castor oil pack (courtesy of Daniel H. Chong, ND):
● Fold flannel three layers thick so it is still large enough to fit over your entire upper abdomen and liver, or stack the three squares.
● Soak flannel with the oil so that it is completely saturated. The oil should be at room temperature.
● Lie on your back with your feet elevated (using a pillow under your knees and feet works well), placing flannel pack directly onto your abdomen; cover oiled flannel with the sheet of plastic, and place the hot water bottle on top of the plastic.
● Cover everything with the old towel to insulate the heat. Take caution not to get the oil on whatever you are laying on, as it can stain. If necessary, cover that surface with something to protect it.
● Leave pack on for 45 to 60 minutes.
● When finished, remove the oil from your skin by washing with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda to one quart water, or just soap and water. (Be sure to wash the towel by itself, as the castor oil can make other clothes stink if washed together.)
● You can reuse the pack several times, each time adding more oil as needed to keep the pack saturated. Store the pack in a large zip-lock bag or other plastic container in a convenient location, such as next to your bed. Replace the pack after it begins to change color.
● For maximum effectiveness, apply at least four consecutive days per week for one month. Patients who use the pack daily report the most benefits.
Be Cautious when Purchasing Castor Oil As with everything else, you must be careful about your source of castor oil. Much of the oil currently sold in stores is derived from castor seeds that have been heavily sprayed with pesticides, solvent-extracted (hexane is commonly used), deodorized, or otherwise chemically processed, which damages beneficial phytonutrients and may even contaminate the oil with toxic agents.
Again, let me emphasize, many of the health benefits of castor oil are more anecdotal than scientific, and side effects have been reported. As with anything new, proceed carefully so that you can minimize any unexpected reactions. I invite your comments about any experiences—positive or negative—related to your use of castor oil. I am always curious about your impressions and experience with natural remedies, and your feedback is welcome, as always.
Uses of Castor Oil Arthritis Natural Remedy The anti-inflammatory properties of Castor Oil make it an excellent massage oil for relieving arthritic joints, nerve inflammations, and sore muscles.
● Make a small pad by folding a small piece of unbleached cotton flannelette into 3 or 4 layers.
● Dip the cotton pad into Castor Oil and place it on to the affected joint or muscle.
● Cover the pad with a plastic wrap.
● Place a hot water bottle or heating pad over the plastic wrapped cotton pad. The plastic wrap will prevent the water bottle or heating pad from getting oily.
● Leave the cotton pad on for 45 minutes to an hour, once per day.
This Castor Oil pack can be reused. Simply place it into a plastic ziplock bag and refrigerate it until it is ready to be used again. It can be refrigerated in a ziplock bag.
Constipation Remedy Studies have shown that Castor Oil is a very strong laxative, which makes it very effective against constipation. Therefore, simply take a teaspoon of castor oil in the morning. You can mix the oil with orange juice, cranberry juice, prune juice, or ginger juice to take away from the bitter taste without affecting the laxative effects. However, do not take it continuously for more than 3 days. If symptoms persist for longer than 3 days, consult your physician immediately.
Ringworm Treatment Ringworm is known to be a stubborn condition to treat, but one of the active compounds of Castor Oil (Undecylenic Acid) has been found to be very effective at treating this fungal infection.
● Spray Castor leaves with some hot water and coarsely crush the leaves.
● Soak the leaves in pure coconut oil.
● Warm the leaves to a temperature that will not burn the skin, and apply the leaves over the affected area as a poultice.
● Leave on the skin for at least one hour, or optionally overnight.
● You may wrap the leaves with unbleached cotton fabric to prevent the oil from staining your bed sheets.
Repeat the procedure every night before going to bed until cured. However, if you notice any redness or discomfort around the area, discontinue this remedy.
Skin Problems Successful studies have approved the use of Castor Oil for skin infections and other skin problems such as sunburn, abrasions, acne, dry skin, boils, warts, stretch marks, liver/age spots, athletes foot and chronic itching and inflamed skin.
● Dip a cotton ball into Castor oil and apply it onto the affected skin in the morning and at night.
● Alternatively, for larger skin areas, soak an appropriately large piece of unbleached cotton cloth in Castor Oil and wrap the affected area overnight.
● If the area is very small, soak a Band-Aid in Castor Oil and cover the infected skin overnight.
For stubborn fungal infections that affect the skin or nails, it is recommended to soak the affected skin in Epsom Salt for 10-15 minutes to soften and disinfect the skin before applying Castor Oil. This can help speed up the healing process.
Stye Treatment The anti-bacterial components of castor oil have been found to be effective against styes (oil gland infections on the eyelid). Simply apply a very small drop of the oil directly onto the stye 2 or 3 times per day.
Wrinkle Treatment Castor oil is a natural emollient that penetrates the skin and helps stimulate the production of collagen and elastin which can soften and hydrate the skin. Therefore, it is a wonderful natural treatment for wrinkles since it restores and rejuvenates skin's natural youthful appearance by making skin smoother, softer and pliant. Dip a small cotton ball into the oil and apply it on wrinkled skin before going to bed. Use only a small amount of oil when applying it to the skin near the eyes.
Please visit http://www.edgarcayce.org for more information on Castor Oil Packs