Castor oil is an odorless oil extracted from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant. It has a light and clean smell ( sometimes even pungent). It is nearly tasteless, but some people find the taste to be very unpleasant. It is an excellent source of ricinoleic acid.
Castor oil is an active ingredient in several medicines, skincare products, and shampoos. Castor oil has a comedogenic rating of 1 which means it is suitable for almost all types of skin as it doesn’t clog the skin pores.
Castor oil is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory and provides several health benefits such as helping with constipation, helping with labor, and the treatment of arthritis, etc.
Nutrition In Castor Oil
The ricinoleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid is the most abundant constituent of castor oil as almost 90 percent of the castor oil is made up of ricinoleic acid.
Additionally, castor oil also contains
Oleic acid ( 3 % of the oil)
Linoleic acid ( 4% of the oil)
Stearic acid (1% of the oil)
Other linolenic fatty acids ( more than 1 %)
Health Benefits of Castor Oil
Some significant health benefits of castor oil are as follows:
(1) May Induce Labor
Castor oil is also known for its labor-inducing properties. This is because of its laxative nature that causes intestinal spasms, stimulates the bowel and vagal nerve. This leads to irritation and contraction of the uterus and thus helps with labor.
This oil is also effective for inducing labor in women that have borne more than one child(post date multiparous.
However, some studies show that using castor oil doesn’t cause induction of labor and there was no reported harm to the baby or mother.
Using castor oil for labor induction should only be considered after consulting with your doctor as each pregnancy is different and may or may not have its complexities.
This is a healthy medical decision made for the safety of mother and baby and is usually recommended between 41 weeks and 41 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy.
(2) Helps In The Treatment of Constipation
Ingestion of castor oil is very beneficial for providing relief from constipation because of its laxative properties. Castor oil stimulates bowel movement that helps in the smooth passage of stool from our body.
Studies have found that the use of castor oil packs can provide quick relief from the symptoms of constipation as it reduces straining during defecation and gives the feeling of complete evacuation post bowel movement.
Although castor oil is effective against constipation it is advisable to consult with a doctor before its use. Then also it should be used in small quantities as its excessive use may damage the functioning of bowel muscles.
A typical dose of castor oil pack is 15 ml or about 3 teaspoons. Once taken it causes bowel movement within 2 to 3 hours and provides relief from constipation.
Another point of concern is that using castor oil for the treatment of constipation may also cause nausea or vomiting. It is a common side effect of castor oil but if you experience it too much then discontinue the use and consult a doctor.
(3) Helps In Birth Control
Castor seed oil can also be used as birth control due to the presence of ricin ( a protein) in it. It is a toxic compound that works as a germicidal substance when administered in very small dosages. Because of its spermicidal properties, it is also added to spermicidal gels and lotions as an effective birth control method.
(4) Aids in the treatment of arthritis
Castor oil is very beneficial for providing relief from the pain and inflammation caused by inflammatory problems such as arthritis, rheumatism, rheumatoid, and gouts, etc.
This benefit of castor oil is due to the presence of ricinoleic acid which is known for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
As per a study conducted on subjects red with osteoarthritis, it was observed that individuals that took castor oil capsules thrice a day 4 4 weeks showed better improvement in osteoarthritis symptoms.
Other fatty acids such as linoleic and oleic acids also play a major role in providing relief from pain and inflammation caused by arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It also relieves their symptoms such as joint pain and knee pain.
With a comedogenic rating of 1, it is suitable for most skin types and can easily penetrate through skin pores during the massage, and provide quick relief from arthritis pain.
It is also effective against muscle soreness.
(5) Good for Nursing Women
Castor oil is very beneficial for nursing women because of its ability to stimulate the secretion of milk.
The fatty acids present in the castor oil not only enhances milk flow but also increases the quantity of milk.
Although castor oil is beneficial for lactating mothers, it is advisable to consume it in low doses and only after consulting with your doctor to ensure that it won’t cause any adverse effects on the infants.
(6) Helps In The Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis
Another advantage of castor oil is its ability to help in the treatment of Plantar Fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is a major cause of heel pain that involves the inflammation of the thick band of tissues that run across the bottom of the foot and connects our heel bones to the toes.
This benefit of castor oil is also because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies have also found that castor oil can also provide quick relief from plantar heel spurs, a condition closely associated with plantar fasciitis.
(7) Good For Eyes
castor oil is also beneficial for our eyes, the sensory organ that allows us to enjoy the beauty of this world.
This advantage of castor oil is mainly because of its anti-inflammatory properties due to which helps improves the early signs of cataracts, relieves dry eye symptoms, and also minimizes the risk of various eye infections.
castor oil is also effective for getting rid of dark circles beneath the eyes.
(8) Strengthens Immunity
Our body has a sophisticated defense mechanism called the “Immune system” that protects us from disease-causing microbes such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, etc., and minimizes the risk of various microbial infections and other health problems. Even when we get sick or sustain any kind of injury, our immune system kicks in and does its best to make us healthy again.
To stay healthy, our immune system needs to be stronger and castor oil may help in doing the same.
This advantage of castor oil is because of its ability to improve lymphatic function, blood flow and improves the health of the thymus gland.
The antioxidants in the castor oil fight with the free radicals in our body, stabilize them and prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our cells including the white blood cells that are known as the backbone of the system, and work as the first line of defense for our immune system.
By protecting our white blood cells from oxidative damage, antioxidants strengthen our immune system, and when our immune system is stronger we are less likely to get a cough, cold, fever, and flu, etc.
Castor oil is also known to enhance the production of white blood cells which is an added advantage for making our immune system stronger.
The ricinoleic acid in castor oil also plays a major role in improving our immunity.
(9) Aids in the treatment of hemorrhoids
As per a research study, castor seeds can be used for the treatment of hemorrhoids, a condition that causes discomfort and bleeding due to the swelling of the veins in the lowest part of the rectum and anus.
This benefit of castor seeds is also because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
And as far as using castor oil for the treatment of hemorrhoids is considered, there is not much information in this regard, and research was limited to castor seeds.
So, it is advisable to consult with your doctor before taking any step.
(10) May Improve Libido
Another advantage of castor oil is that it may help in improving our libido. This advantage of castor oil is because of its ability to increase the absorption of fat molecules in the body. This helps in regulating hormonal balance that improves libido or sexual drive. It also provides other related benefits such a reducing PMS symptoms, controlling anxiety, and keeping mood swings under control.
(11) Ease Fibroids Symptoms
Castor oil may also beneficial for providing relief from various symptoms of fibroid, a benign and non-cancerous tumor that develops in the uterus.
Constipation is a major cause of fibroids, and castor oil is known for providing relief from constipation due to its laxative properties. This contributes to providing relief from the fibroids.
At present, there are only anecdotes that suggest this claim, and there is no scientific research to support the claim.
(12) Helps In The Treatment of Acne And Scars
Acne is a common skin problem that affects millions of people around the world. Many reasons may lead to the development of acne, but a prime reason is the clogging of our skin pores due to the accumulation of toxins, pollutants, impurities, excess oil, and other unwanted substances.
Castor oil is very effective for the treatment of acne because of its wonderful skin cleansing properties. Castor oil is a wonderful skin cleanser that helps our skin pores to get rid of the toxins, pollutants, and other impurities trapped inside them.
The anti-inflammatory nature of castor oil also contributes to the treatment of acne.
To use castor oil for the treatment of acne, moisten a clean washcloth with lukewarm water and add few drops of castor oil to it. Gently rub the cloth on your face in a circular motion before going to bed. Let the oil-air dry throughout the night and then wash off your face in the morning.
This is not suitable for people with oily skin, and even if you don’t have oily skin, it is suggested to do a patch test before using castor oil to ensure that your skin is not allergic to castor oil.
Not just acne, but castor oil is also helpful in the treatment of scars because of its anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-inflammatory nature of the castor oil soothes skin irritation and relieves skin inflammation.
A regular and moderate amount of castor oil may also help in fading stretch marks.
Castor oil is also beneficial for protecting our skin cells from the harmful rays of the sun. It has an SPF value of 6 and is thus also added to sunscreens.
Castor oil is antimicrobial and analgesic in nature which makes it very beneficial for quick healing of the wounds, for stimulating blood flow, getting rid of damaged skin cells, and for promoting the growth of new cells.
It may also help in the treatment of boils and burns.
But as suggested earlier, do a patch test first.
(13) Keep Various Signs of Premature Aging At Bay
Castor oil not only provides health benefits but is equally beneficial for our skin. It is very effective for keeping various signs of premature aging because of its antioxidantal properties. The antioxidants in the castor oil protect our skin cells from the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals and thus helps in keeping various signs of premature aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, dark spots and skin blemishes, etc.
In small amounts, castor oil can also be applied around sensitive areas such as under the eyes, around the mouth, and other skin areas like the chin, neckline, and forehead. For this, wash the area you would like to apply the castor oil, and then gently massage the area with a drop of castor oil. Let it air dry for 20-30 minutes, and then wash off with normal water.
Although castor oil is suitable for most skin types, it is suggested to do a patch test before applying castor oil on the skin to ensure that your skin is not allergic to castor oil.
Castor oil allergy may cause problems like skin itching, redness of the skin, swelling around the skin, and skin rashes.
(14) Aids in The Treatment of Psoriasis And Eczema
Castor oil is also beneficial for the treatment of psoriasis and eczema, two common skin problems that affect millions of people around the world and cause pain, inflammation, and discomfort.
This advantage of castor oil is due to the presence of anti-inflammatory compounds such as ricinoleic acid in it.
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it may provide quick relief from the pain and inflammation associated with psoriasis and eczema.
To use castor oil for the treatment of psoriasis and eczema, gently apply castor oil to the affected area and let our skin pores absorb the oil throughout the night. This will moisturize our skin, and provide quick relief from pain and inflammation.
Studies have found that castor oil can fight against Candida, a fungal infection, and is also effective for eliminating Candida Albicans from contaminated human tooth roots.
Another significant advantage of castor oil is its ability to help in the treatment of melasma.
Melasma is a condition that causes brown patches on one’s face.
In a research study involving a severe case of melasma, phenol-castor oil peel was found to be effective in reducing pigmentation.
Due to the presence of undecylenic acid in it, castor oil may also help in the treatment of ringworm.
(15) Aids in The Treatment of Genital Warts
The antimicrobial properties of castor oil make it very effective for helping with the treatment of genital warts.
For this, simply apply few drops of castor oil to the wart on an everyday basis, and it will quickly fall off.
This should be done only if you are comfortable applying castor oil on warts and there is not any kind of castor oil allergy. If you are unsure about this and have questions or doubts, then consult your doctor before use.
(16) Promotes Hair Growth
Castor oil not only provides numerous health benefits and is good for our skin, but it is equally beneficial for our hair and scalp.
Regular application of castor oil on the scalp is known to promote hair growth in many individuals.
To use castor oil for boosting hair growth, all you have to do is gently massage your massage with castor oil, let it dry for 2 hours and then wash it off with shampoo.
Castor oil is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, and these properties may help our hair and scalp tremendously.
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, castor oil may help in the treatment of dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, an inflammatory condition that causes scaly patches on the scalp.
Castor oil also helps in flushing out toxins and other impurities from our body in an efficient manner, and when there are fewer toxins in our system, they don’t accumulate in our skin pores, and this minimizes the risk of scalp acne.
Because of its rich nutritious profile, castor oil can also be used for the treatment of split ends. This oil nourishes our hair follicles and scalp, strengthens our hair follicles, and thus minimizes the risk of hair fall and split ends.
Side Effects of Castor Oil
(1) May Cause Diarrhea
Castor oil is very beneficial for providing relief from constipation because of its natural laxative properties.
It may lead to the contraction of bowel muscles and thus helps in the quick elimination of stool from our system.
This advantage can turn into a disadvantage when castor oil is taken in excess.
In excessive quantity, castor oil may damage the functionality of our bowel muscles, and may also lead to diarrhea.
Additionally, some variants of castor oil contain ricin, which is a dangerous compound that may give rise to allergic reactions and symptoms such as diarrhea, colicky abdominal pain, vomiting, and even heartburn.
Because of its dangerous effect, ricin is generally removed from the castor oil during the refining process.
(2) May Induce Labor
Castor oil may help in labor induction.
Depending on the circumstances and stage of the pregnancy, this could be either an advantage or disadvantage.
Castor oil is a natural laxative that contracts our bowel muscles, and also has the ability to contracts our uterus muscles.
For this reason, it can be used for labor induction.
However, labor induction is a complex medical practice that may help or harm the baby.
In general, it is suggested not to consume castor oil in any stages of pregnancy, but if the need for labor induction arises then also it should only be consumed after consulting with your doctor and as per his recommendations.
(3) May Cause Allergies
Although castor oil has a comedogenic rating of 1, is quickly absorbed by our skin pores, and is suitable for most skin types, it may not be suitable for all skin types.
For this reason, it is suggested to do a patch test before applying castor oil to the skin.
Some individuals might be hypersensitive to castor oil, and they may face allergic reactions such as skin rashes, redness of the skin, and skin itching, etc. on using castor oil on the skin.
A small patch test can save you from trouble.
Frequently Asked Questions
(1) Is It Safe to Ingest Castor Oil?
Ingestion of castor oil should only be done only in the doctor’s supervision. Castor oil is used for the treatment of constipation as it stimulates our bowel muscles and helps get rid of stool and other unwanted substances from the body.
However, even in such a scenario, doses should be limited and after consulting with the doctor.
(2) What are Other Oils That Can Substitute Castor Oil?
Coconut oil is an excellent alternative to castor oil and can also be used for the prevention and treatment of various skin ailments. Because of its anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory properties and presence of essential nutrients, it can also be used for providing numerous health benefits.
(3) Is Castor Oil Good For Keeping Our Nails Healthy
At present, there is no scientific research in this regard, and trying is the only way to know it.
Do it only if you are not allergic or sensitive to castor oil.
If you feel any discomfort, then discontinue the use.
(4) Does Castor Oil Helps In The Removal of Skin Tag?
Anecdotal stories suggest that castor oil can be used for the removal of skin tags.
For this take some baking soda and add few drops of castor oil to it to make a thick paste. Apply this paste on the skin tags thrice a day. To prevent the mixture from getting wiped off, skin tags (with paste applied) can be covered with a bandage.
Regular use will dry up the skin tag, and it will fall off.
However, there are no scientific studies to support this claim. So, use it at your discretion.
(5) When should you take castor oil? What is the dosage?
When it comes to getting relief from constipation is concerned, 3 teaspoons of castor oil are the preferred dosage, but it may also vary from person to person and severity of constipation, and it is better to consult with your doctor. And as far as using castor oil for other benefits and treatments are concerned, consult with your doctor regarding the dosage.
It is important not to consume castor seeds ( that provides castor oil) because even a small dose of 3 castor beans can lead to serious poisoning.
(6) How long does castor oil take to work?
If you have taken castor oil for the treatment of constipation then you should see the result within 2 to 6 hours, and when it comes to labor induction, castor oil may take up to 24 hours to show the result.
For other treatments and benefits, the time may depend on the severity of the issue. Your doctor should be able to give you a rough timeframe.
(7) Can Castor Oil May help in the treatment of gallstones?
Scientific studies in this regard are limited and there is no conclusive answer. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that castor oil packs can be used for the treatment of gallstones because of their anti-inflammatory properties. It can provide quick relief from the pain and inflammation
(8) Can Castor oil be used for cooking?
Castor oil is not a suitable oil for cooking because of its pungent smell and bad taste.
(9) How To Use Castor Oil For Repelling Moles?
Running castor oil directly on the moles may help in the efficient treatment of the moles.
Additionally, you can also mix few drops of castor oil in some baking soda to obtain a gel-like consistency. Apply this mixture directly to the mole, and then cover it with an adhesive bandage before going to bed.
The next morning, remove the bandage wash off the mole with clean water.
(10) Can castor oil help unblock fallopian tubes?
Castor oil is beneficial not only for increasing libido but is also effective for improving female fertility as they help unblock fallopian tubes. Blocked fallopian tubes are a leading cause of tubal factor infertility which accounts for more than 25 to 30 percent of all cases of infertility.
This is based on anecdotal evidence, and at present, there are limited research studies in this regard.
(11) Can Castor Oil be used for the treatment of endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a disorder in which the tissues that normally line the uterus gets out of control and grows outside the uterus.
Informal evidence suggests that castor oil can be used for the treatment of endometriosis.
For this, simply massage the abdomen with warm castor oil to get quick relief from the pain.
Castor oil can also be mixed with essential oils such as lavender oil to provide relaxation to the pelvic muscles.
This practice should only be followed before the period starts and not during it.
At present, there are not many scientific studies in this regard.
(12) Can castor oil heal chapped lips?
Being a good source of vitamin E and other antioxidantal compounds, castor oil is very beneficial for making our skin healthy and can thus help in healing chapped lips.