Castor oil has been used for thousands of years by ancient cultures such as the Egyptians, Persians, and Indians, to treat various ailments and to use as a beauty treatment for the skin and hair.
Thanks to its multiple healing properties and benefits, it is a wonderful ally for health and beauty. This post will discuss everything you need to know about Castor Oil, also known as Palma Christi Oil. Read on and discover what this oil can do for you.
What is Castor Oil?
It is a multi-purpose vegetable oil extracted from castor beans, the castor oil plant’s seeds, whose scientific name is Ricinus communis L., from the Euphorbiaceaeily family, native to the tropical areas of Africa and India.
Castor beans are produced in many countries on a large scale, with China, Brazil, and India as their principal producers worldwide.
This plant cannot survive frost, so it should be planted in warm climates.
Pure castor oil of the highest quality is extracted by cold pressing.
It is a thick, viscous, non-volatile fatty oil with a slightly transparent yellowish color. Its characteristic smell and taste are not very pleasant.
Castor oil has many industrial, pharmaceutical, and medicinal uses and is also present in many cosmetic products and medicines.
Castor Oil Composition
Most of the benefits of castor oil stem from its chemical composition. It is classified as a type of triglyceride fatty acid. About 90% of its fatty acid content is a specific compound called ricinoleic acid. A monounsaturated fatty acid (Omega-9) is considered its main healing component.
This fatty acid is not found in most other oils. While it is present in cottonseed oil and soybean oil, it is in much lower concentrations and not in such a dense and concentrated form.
Apart from this primary fatty acid, castor oil contains certain salts, stearic acid, linoleic acid, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, amino acids, terpenoids, and phytosterols. It is also rich in vitamins A, E, and F, minerals, and proteins.
Typical composition of fatty acids
- Ricinoleic acid: 85% to 95%
- Oleic acid: 2% to 6%
- Linoleic acid: 1% to 5%
- Alpha-linolenic acid: 0.5% to 2%
- Stearic acid: 0.5% to 1%
- Palmitic acid: 0, 5% to 1%
- Other fatty acids: 0.2% to 0.5%
Is Castor Oil Toxic?
While castor oil is non-toxic and safe to use, the castor plant contains a deadly poison called “ricin,” a toxic protein found in the raw seeds in minimal concentrations.
So, for example, if a child consumes just three castor beans, they could be at risk of dying of intoxication. In contrast, for an adult, the lethal dose would be between 8 to 10 grams (.28 – .35 ounces).
However, the oil extraction process involves heating the beans, causing the said protein to become denatured and inactivated. For this reason, the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) qualifies it as “safe and effective, mainly for use as a laxative,” thus allowing its free sale.
Keep in mind that consuming castor oil in large doses could cause serious stomach and digestive problems.
What Is Castor Oil Good for?
As mentioned earlier, castor oil has many uses in both beauty and health. Among its best-known benefits, castor oil is:
- An excellent natural laxative.
- A great skin moisturizer.
- An effective wound healer that accelerates tissue repair and prevents infections.
- A very effective anti-inflammatory.
- A very good antidiabetic.
- It strengthens the immune system.
- An excellent antioxidant.
- It treats, diminishes, and prevents acne.
- An effective measure against bacteria and fungi.
- Very effective in treating migraines.
- A good preventive for corns.
- Good treatment and prevention of mouth sores.
- It prevents and treats chapped lips.
- It treats and prevents various skin conditions.
- A liver protective that helps prevent and treat liver damage.
- A great lymphatic stimulant.
- It is also used to improve the health and appearance of eyebrows, beards, and other hair.
How to Use Castor Oil
Castor oil can be used basically in two ways: orally or topically.
Castor oil can be administered orally, either alone or combined with milk or warm water. It can also be taken as a supplement. Among other applications, it is useful for:
- Pelvic congestion
- Relieving chronic headaches
- Preventing and treating parasitic infections
- Relieving nausea
- Improving rest, allowing for a better quality of sleep, and avoiding problems such as insomnia.
- To stabilize low blood pressure.
- To help induce labor.
Topically, castor oil can be applied directly on the skin, either alone or mixed with other vegetable oils and/or a long list of essential oils, through rubbing massages or with cotton swabs (for applying on eyelashes.)
For massage use, it is recommended to mix it with a carrier or base oil that is more fluid due to the viscous texture of the castor oil.
Topically, it is useful for:
- Relieving itching.
- Skin inflammation.
- Soothing and reducing skin rashes.
- Abdominal cramps.
- Alleviate the itching sensation.
- Reducing face and throat swelling.
- Improving difficulty in breathing.
- Relieving rheumatism.
- Relieving muscle aches and pain in the back and neck.
- Improving the health and appearance of hair and skin.
Benefits and Properties of Castor Oil
While this oil is primarily known for its great benefits for skin and hair, it also has many other amazing therapeutic and medicinal properties and benefits. All of this makes it an excellent multi-purpose home remedy.
Below, we will discuss the 8 main benefits of castor oil.
Castor Oil Helps Fortify and Improve the Immune System
This oil is very good for fortifying the immune system because, among other things, it stimulates white blood cell production. This output makes castor oil an effective ally in fighting infections, which is why it is widely used in naturopathy. It provides these benefits even when used topically.
Also, castor oil increases the count of T-11 cells (a type of white blood cell). Additionally, it promotes the production of other types of lymphocytes (white cells).
As a result, the body becomes better prepared to generate more antibodies and kill viruses, bacteria, fungi, and cancer cells.
It also improves the digestive system’s efficiency so that it helps detox the body and solves digestive problems.
Castor Oil Improves and Increases Blood Circulation
The circulatory system’s proper functioning is essential to maintaining the body’s health. It is responsible for bringing oxygen to all cells. According to some studies, castor oil has been found to improve blood flow, which is one of the most important benefits of its use.
Immune health and good blood flow go hand-in-hand. If the lymphatic system does not work well, various chronic diseases can occur.
Castor Oil Soothes and Treats Constipation
As it is a great laxative, castor oil is an excellent remedy for people suffering from constipation.
When taken orally, ricinoleic acid is released in the small intestine and produces a powerful laxative effect. In this way, it helps the digestive process and improves bowel movements.
This oil is classified as a stimulant laxative, which means that it helps increase the movement of the muscles that remove fecal matter from the intestine, helping to cleanse it.
Castor Oil Treats Joint Pain
This oil is very useful for treating joint pain from conditions such as arthritis. It can be applied topically through a rubbing massage.
Normally, it is recommended to perform these massages on the joints and then apply a hot water compress. This process must be repeated twice a week, which usually produces very good results.
Castor Oil Fights the Proliferation of Fungi
This oil has excellent antibacterial and antifungal properties. According to some studies, it is very effective in fighting fungal infections such as mouth infections by Candida Albicans.
It also helps fight other types of fungal infections like ringworm and dermatophytosis.
Castor Oil Reduces Inflammation and Relieves Pain
Thanks to its ricinoleic acid content, castor oil has great anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It relieves inflammation and pain caused by conditions like psoriasis, as well as sore muscles.
It also helps reduce swelling caused by blows or wounds.
Castor Oil Helps Heal Wounds
Castor oil favors the healing of skin wounds and scars by creating a humid environment that prevents wounds such as sores from drying out, improving their healing process.
It also promotes new tissue growth and prevents dead skin cells from building up.
Castor Oil Is a Great Natural Moisturizer and Has Anti-Wrinkle Properties
As a monounsaturated fatty acid, ricinoleic acid acts as a moisturizer. It is ideal for maintaining skin moisture and preventing water loss due to evaporation through the skin’s outer layer.
Additionally, thanks to its fatty acid and vitamin E content, castor oil stimulates collagen and elastin production. For this reason, castor oil softens the skin. It prevents the creation of signs of aging such as wrinkles, fine expression lines, and blemishes. Therefore, it is an important component of many cosmetic products.
Applications and Uses of Castor Oil
As we have seen, castor oil can be used for various purposes and offers multiple benefits in various areas such as cosmetics, personal and beauty care, and medicinal purposes.
Here are the most important uses of castor oil.
Cosmetic Uses and Applications of Castor Oil
Among the uses for beauty treatments and personal care, the following can be mentioned:
Uses of Castor Oil for the Skin
As indicated above, this oil is very useful for improving the skin’s appearance, vitality, and overall health. It is particularly ideal for people who have dry skin.
Its skincare uses and benefits include:
Healing inflamed skin
Whether the inflammation was caused by sunburn, dry skin, or acne, castor oil will be a blessing to relieve inflammation. Its healing properties normally benefit any skin type.
Fighting the signs of aging
When applied topically, this oil will be very useful for delaying and preventing aging signs such as fine lines, spots, or wrinkles.
People with acne-prone skin can take advantage of castor oil benefits to reduce acne and heal the wounds that it can cause. This is mainly because ricinoleic acid effectively fights the bacteria that cause acne.
Moisturizing the skin
This oil hydrates the skin, leaving it soft, revitalized, and smooth. This makes it an excellent low-cost option to make your skin look great in a 100% natural way. Its concentrated fatty acids can penetrate the skin easily and deeply, eliminating dry areas and helping to keep it moist.
Castor oil is very useful to reduce and eliminate scars. Although the results are not immediate, if applied regularly, the effects will slowly become evident. This is because the fatty acids penetrate the scar tissue and fill it in while also stimulating healthy tissue growth.
Preventing stretch marks
Stretch marks usually occur as a result of pregnancy or very radical weight gain in a short amount of time. Castor oil also helps in these cases because it lends the skin greater elasticity, which results in fewer stretch marks.
Additionally, the fatty acids in this oil help fade existing stretch marks and reduce their appearance because it penetrates the epidermis to the deep layer where the scar is located, erasing it gradually and stimulating the production of new cells.
Castor oil is also ideal for reducing pigmentation in skin areas that have spots or uneven tones. Thanks to its fatty acids and especially Omega-3 fatty acid, it stimulates healthy tissue growth without resulting in blemishes. Adding a few drops of carrot essential oil or celery essential oil will enhance this effect.
You can use it mixed with other beneficial vegetable oils and butter, such as argan oil or cocoa butter.
Uses of Castor Oil for the Hair
Castor oil for hair care has numerous benefits. Not only will it lend your hair additional smoothness and a healthy and shiny appearance, but it will also treat various hair conditions such as baldness.
Among its uses and benefits for hair care, castor oil helps in:
- Hair nutrition
It covers and nourishes hair damaged and abused by perms, bleaching, etc. It is ideal for treating dry, lifeless, and dull hair.
To make homemade masks, you can combine castor oil with coconut oil and/or essential oils of your choice. If you want beautiful and shiny hair, combine it with mango or kokum butter.
- It promotes the growth of strong and healthy hair
Because castor oil increases blood circulation to the hair follicles and the scalp, it restores its health. It allows it to grow thicker and stronger, in addition to accelerating its growth.
On the other hand, Omega-9 essential fatty acids penetrate the hair shaft’s peripheral layer, helping it stay denser, healthier, and shinier and protecting it from moisture loss. It acts as a natural conditioner by restoring the cuticles of the hair.
You can mix it with a few drops of essential oils such as grapefruit or clary sage.
- It prevents split ends and hair loss
It is also useful for repairing the hair shaft’s keratin, effectively preventing hair breakage and the appearance of split ends.
At the same time, it protects it from environmental pollutants, which helps stop hair loss.
- It treats scalp conditions
Several scalp conditions can cause various problems, such as dandruff, baldness, and scalp itching. Castor oil is very effective in helping prevent and stop these conditions.
This is mainly due to its antifungal and antibacterial action, which allows it to fight the various pathogens and microorganisms that cause them.
You can add a few drops of essential oils of eucalyptus, geranium, laurel, or tea tree for dandruff.
- It prevents the premature graying of hair
Over the years, hair loses its pigmentation, causing white or gray patches to begin to appear. Applying this oil will help slow graying by preventing the hair from losing its natural pigmentation.
Uses of Castor Oil for the Beard
Castor oil can improve the appearance, texture, and health of the beard due to its composition of monounsaturated fatty acids, especially ricinoleic acid, while also accelerating its growth.
While many people today recommend Jamaican black castor oil to promote beard growth, studies show no difference in which variety of castor oil is applied. Any natural and pure castor oil will have excellent good results in this regard, with the most important aspect being that you always use 100% pure, cold-pressed quality oil.
Uses of Castor Oil for the Nails
Because it contains vitamin A, castor oil is good for strengthening the nails, preventing them from breaking easily while also making them look healthy and neat, improving their overall health.
This oil has a double-action when applied to nails, thanks to its ricinoleic acid content. On the one hand, it acts on the nail itself, repairing and strengthening it. On the other, it also works on the surrounding skin (cuticle), reinforcing its growth.
For a cuticle massage, you can add a few drops of lemon or ylang-ylang essential oils.
Uses of Castor Oil for Facial Treatments
The benefits of castor oil to beautify the face are many and well-known. This is one of its most famous benefits.
Among the main benefits of using castor oil in facial treatments, we can mention the following:
- It accelerates the growth of the eyebrows and makes them more pronounced
Castor oil is very good for widening too-thin eyebrows, thanks to its rich content of fatty acids, minerals, and nutrients such as vitamin E. It nourishes and hydrates the follicles, promoting their growth while giving them volume and slowing down hair loss in the eyebrows.
Its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties help calm any inflammation or problem that may be causing their thinning. In this way, you will get softer, fuller, more pronounced, and shiny eyebrows.
- It is an effective facial cleanser
Castor oil is an excellent facial cleanser that removes impurities from the pores and dead skin cells. It also improves the health and appearance of facial skin while preventing breakouts of acne and other conditions.
- It reduces and disappears dark circles
Castor oil helps stimulate the capillaries in the skin under the eyes, improving blood flow and reducing the formation of dark circles very effectively and noticeably.
- It stimulates the growth and lengthening of eyelashes
Castor oil is excellent for eyelashes, preventing them from becoming inconspicuous and thin, making them luster and softer due to some of its components: palmitic, linoleic, and oleic acids.
If you want to use it for these purposes, you must be very careful to avoid contact with the eyes. In the event of this happening, wash your eyes with abundant water.
Using Castor Oil to Eliminate Warts and Moles
Another peculiar use of castor oil is for eliminating warts and moles, for which it is an outstanding natural remedy.
Only two drops of oil should be placed daily on the mole or wart that you want to remove for several days. It will fall off with time.
Use Castor Oil to Remove Calluses from Your Feet
Thanks to its great penetration capacity into the skin, this oil is very good for treating leathery and hard skin such as feet calluses, or corns.
If you use it for several days, you will see excellent results.
Using Castor Oil to Help Lose Weight
Castor oil helps improve digestion, bowel movements and treats certain stomach disorders, making it a good ally in losing weight.
However, I recommend that you first ask a trusted physician before ingesting this oil.
Medicinal Uses and Applications of Castor Oil
In addition to the cosmetic uses mentioned above, castor oil can also be used for medicinal purposes such as the following.
Using Castor Oil to Reduce the Symptoms of Arthritis
Since ancient times, castor oil has been used to treat and relieve arthritis, especially thanks to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which help relieve inflammation and pain.
Although many effective drugs exist for this purpose, it never hurts to take advantage of the benefits of such an effective natural remedy with almost no side effects or contraindications. Usually, experts consider the treatment of arthritis with this oil safe and effective.
Using Castor Oil to Relieve Muscle, Back, and Neck Pain
Castor oil has excellent analgesic properties that help relieve muscle, back, and neck pain. It is especially good for treating localized pain.
It can be very useful when pain occurs due to poor sleep or excessive physical exercise. A warm castor oil massage can help relieve pain almost immediately.
Using Castor Oil for Colitis Relief
This oil also helps relieve colitis when applied with a wet compress on the belly for an hour or two.
You can also apply heat to the compress by putting a thermal blanket or a hot water bottle on the compress. This procedure is recommended to be performed twice a day.
Using Castor Oil to Calm Cough
It is very effective in relieving and calming coughing fits by placing a few oil drops on the back and chest. Afterward, carry out a gentle massage and then cover the chest with a blanket to maintain the heat. This usually provides immediate relief.
Using Castor Oil as a Laxative
This is one of the primary uses of castor oil. It is very good for stimulating bowel movements, relieving the intestine and stomach of bodily waste. By speeding up the elimination process, it prevents food from staying too long in the body.
However, caution must be exercised because if castor oil is used too much, it can damage these organs.
Using Castor Oil to Treat Ringworm
Castor oil contains a compound called undecylenic acid, which helps treat ringworm very effectively, a fairly common problem in all age groups.
How to Choose a Good Quality Castor Oil
As a general rule, you should keep in mind that the lighter the color of the castor oil, the purer it will tend to be.
You should always buy 100% pure and organic castor oil, unrefined, free of additives, and prefer cold-pressed oil.
Make sure you read the oil label carefully before purchasing and ask the seller all your questions.
According to the World Health Organization, a safe and adequate daily dose would be up to 0.7 mg/kg of body weight.
In any case, the dose will also depend on other factors such as age, the health of the person, the body’s response to ingesting this oil, and the presence of pre-existing medical conditions.
You should always read the instructions carefully on the container before using this oil. Be especially careful not to exceed the recommended dose and do not take it for more than seven consecutive days.
However, it should be emphasized that you should ALWAYS consult a doctor before ingesting castor oil.
Precautions: Safety and Side Effects
The FDA classifies castor oil as safe for both topical and internal use. However, certain recommendations should be followed. Some precautions taken when using it could present some unwanted side effects.
It is always recommended for topical use to perform a tolerance test on the wrist or elbow crease using a small quantity of oil. It is necessary to wait 24 to 48 hours to ensure that it does not produce adverse effects.
Among the adverse or secondary effects of castor oil are:
- It can generate strong pelvic contractions, so it can cause spontaneous abortion or premature delivery if you are pregnant. Therefore, it should never be used by pregnant women or by women who are breastfeeding.
- Its use is not recommended during menstruation.
- People who have recently undergone surgery or suffer from hemorrhoids, ulcers, colic, prolapse, appendicitis, or irritable bowel syndrome should not use this oil.
- The ingestion of this oil can cause some cardiovascular problems such as arrhythmias or irregular heartbeat. In this case, you must suspend its use and consult a doctor.
- If you have applied this oil topically and have had an allergic reaction or experience any strange symptoms, discontinue its use immediately, and seek medical attention.
Do not forget that you should avoid getting it in contact with your eyes, nostrils, or genitals, as with any natural oil.
Finally, it is important to keep it out of the reach of children.
Where to Buy Castor Oil
After reading about all the benefits and uses of castor oil, you may want to make it a part of your arsenal of beauty care and natural remedies.
You can buy this oil in health food stores, pharmacies, natural food stores, and herbalist shops, as well as in local markets.
However, a safe and comfortable option to buy castor oil without even having to leave your home is to buy it in online stores like Amazon, where I purchase it.
Prices vary a lot from one brand to another and depend on the bottle size.
The use of castor oil is a useful, easy, and inexpensive way to improve your body’s general health and skin, hair, and other areas. It usually provides excellent benefits for the whole body.
As discussed in this post, many cultures have been applying it since time immemorial for various purposes and with very good results. At this point, it will be up to you to test it and evaluate if it is appropriate for your particular case, always following the precautions and recommendations above.
And remember, you must consult your doctor before ingesting it and before using it topically.
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