Castor Oil: A reliable home remedy to Constipation
Natural but powerful
What Is Occassional Constipation?
Constipation, as defined by Medical Dictionary, is an acute or chronic condition in which bowel movements occur less often than usual or consist of hard, dry stools that are painful or difficult to pass. As defined by Wikipedia, Constipation refers to bowel movement that are infrequent or hard to pass.
However, an occasional condition that leads to infrequent or difficult bowel movements, and often associated with pains or straining while passing hard, dry stools is what I referred to as Occasional Constipation.
Before writing this important and educative article, I have experienced this occasional constipation and can give a first hand personal description of the causes, symptoms and the treatment of constipation with Castor Oil.
What Experts Say About Constipation
Because the function of the large intestine or colon is to absorb water, delayed transit of fluid through the colon leads to constipation with hardening of the stools and infrequent bowel movements.
As a rule, if more than three days pass without a bowel movement, the intestinal contents may harden to the point that the person may have difficulty or even pain during elimination.
According to The American Gastroenterological Association, although it may be extremely bothersome, constipation itself usually is not serious. However, particularly if it occurs over a short period of time, it may signal and be the only noticeable symptom of a serious underlying disorder such as cancer.
Constipation can lead to complications, such as hemorrhoids caused by extreme straining or fissures caused by the hard stool stretching the sphincters. Bleeding can occur for either of these reasons and appears as bright red streaks on the surface of the stool. Fissures may be quite painful and can aggravate the constipation that originally caused them. Fecal impactions tend to occur in very young children and in older adults, and may be accompanied by a loss of control of stool, with liquid stool flowing around the hard impaction.
Occasionally, straining causes a small amount of intestinal lining to push out from the rectal opening. This condition is known as rectal prolapse and may lead to secretion of mucus that may stain underpants. In children, mucus may be a feature of cystic fibrosis. The Normal Colon The colon, which is about six feet long, connects to the small intestine at one end and to the rectum and anus at the other end.
The major function of the colon is to absorb water and salts from digestive products that enter from the small intestine. Two quarts of liquid matter enter the right colon from the small intestine each day. This material may remain there for several days until most of the fluid and salts are absorbed into the body. The stool then passes through the colon by a pattern of movements to the left side of the colon, where it is stored until a bowel movement occurs.
Normal colon motility (contraction of intestinal muscles and movement of its contents) is controlled by nerves and hormones and by electrical activity in the colon muscle. The electrical activity serves as a “pacemaker” similar to the mechanism that controls heart function. Movements of the colon propel the contents slowly back and forth, but mainly from the rectum.
Other Types, Causes and Symptoms of Constipation
American Gastroenterological Association in one of their articles; understanding constipation described Constipation as a symptom, not a disease. According to the article, Constipation, like fever, can be caused by many different conditions and most people (like me) have experienced occasional episode of constipation that was corrected over time with proper diet and treatment.
Below are highlights of other common causes of Constipation.
Poor Diet: One of the main causes of constipation is diet very high in animal fats (meats, dairy products, eggs) and refined sugar (rich desserts and other sweets), but low in fiber (vegetables, fruits, whole grains), especially insoluble dietary fiber, which helps move bulk through the intestines and promote bowel movements. Studies have suggested that high fiber diets result in larger stools, more frequent bowel movements and, therefore, less constipation.
Poor Bowel Habits: Someone can initiate a cycle of constipation by ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement. Some people do this to avoid using public toilets, others because they are too busy. After a period of time, a person may stop feeling the urge. This leads to progressive constipation. Children may also suppress the urge during toilet training or when going to unfamiliar rest rooms, as in school, and this can progress to constipation later in life. Studies show that suppressing the urge to have a bowel movement may slow down the transit through the colon or lead to incomplete relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles, thus holding back stool.
Pseudo-Constipation: The false belief that one is constipated is very common and results from misunderstandings about what is normal and what is not. If recognized early enough, this type of constipation can be cured by the patient’s physician explaining that the frequency of his or her bowel movements is normal. One example is when a person has a bowel movement less frequently than once a day. While this is still normal, it is believed to be abnormal. Another example is when an individual feels abdominal discomfort and tries to have a bowel movement but can’t, however the stool has not yet reached the rectum to be properly eliminated.
Travelling: Some travellers often experience constipation when traveling long distances, which may relate to changes in lifestyle, schedule, diet and drinking water, or some evacuation difficulties when using other toilets.
Pregnancy: Pregnancy is another common cause of constipation, which may be partly due to hormonal changes during pregnancy.
Fissures and Hemorrhoids: Painful conditions of the anus can produce a spasm of the anal sphincter muscle, which can delay a bowel movement.
Medications: According to Physicians, medications can cause constipation. These include pain medications (especially narcotics), antacids that contain aluminum or calcium, antispasmodic drugs, antidepressant drugs, tranquilizers, iron supplements, anticonvulsants for epilepsy, antiparkinson drugs and calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure and heart conditions.
According to Medical Author, Jay W. Marks
Common Symptoms of Constipation include:
- Infrequent bowel movements
- Straining to have bowel movements
- Hard and/or small stools
- Sense of incomplete evacuation after bowel movements
- Lower abdominal discomfort
- Abdominal bloating (make or become swollen with fluid or gas), occasionally distension
- Anal bleeding or fissures from the trauma caused by hard stools
- Occasionally diarrhea (a condition in which feces are discharged from the bowels frequently and in a liquid form) due to obstruction of the colon by hard stool
- Rarely colonic perforation
- Psychological distress and/or obsession with having bowel movements
- Possible aggravation of diverticular disease, hemorrhoids and rectal prolapse
Diets rich in Fiber for treatment of Constipation
My Experience with Occasional Constipation
How it started:
It first started on one Sunday evening, sometime in June. I intentionally visited the rest room for bowel movement because i noticed that since morning i have not been able to perform this important routine. To my greatest surprise, it was so painful as if my feces has turned to rock. Several attempts made to excrete this stone - like feces proved abortive. The worst part was that my rectum was sore and painful and the more I pushed, the more it seem as if the anus is about to tear. Sweating and full of pains, I left the rest room with no success.
But on Saturday before that Sunday, I prepared a special local diet different from what i use to eat for the past six months. This diet comprises of palm oil processed stew, also known as ofe akwu or banga stew eaten with boiled rice. I ate that in the afternoon and also enjoyed it during dinner, because it is not a regular food for me and because also it is a special delicacy. Although, I took reasonable quantity of water that day, I was not conscious of whether it was enough or not. I also want to state that I am used to having a breakfast of Coffee and bread.
By Monday morning, I was fully aware that I was suffering from constipation because, all effort for normal morning bowel movement failed, coupled with increased pains on my anus.
My next Action:
Because of the pains I felt on the rectum, I had to take some pain relief drugs immediately I got to my workplace in the morning. I also became so conscious of my diets for the day that I skipped the normal coffee and bread for breakfast (because I thought it was the hand work of the bread that led to the hardness of my stool) and went for porridge beans. I was also conscious of fruits for I had to order for oranges, water melon, pawpaw and apples, with hope to get my feces softened. I also took up to 8 liters of water before night. I have to intentionally skipped dinner because I was almost full with the fruits.To my greatest disappointment, I could not still perform bowel movement and the pains was very unbearable.
How I discovered about treatment with Castor oil:
As I said above, even after having enough fruits and water, I did not receive any relief to the constipation. By next morning, I was already feeling terribly uncomfortable and in great pains. I got to the office that morning and called my friend who is a Nurse. ( I wish to also mention that I am not a fan of visiting clinics for I seldom fall ill). After explaining my situation to her, she prescribed two medication for me; a stimulant laxative and Castor Oil. (That was my first time of getting to know about Castor Oil, although after thorough research, I discovered that when I was growing up, we used to play with the Castor Bean Seeds whenever we visited village). She also gave me instructions on how to take the drugs. First, that I should take 3 tablets of the laxative first thing in the morning before any meal and 5 tea spoons of the Castor Oil 1 hour later. ( Please note that this is a personal experience and may not be exactly suitable for another person if not recommended by a physician. Example is children below 6 years and pregnant women)
What helps constipation fast:
Exactly 30 minutes after taken the Castor Oil, I felt an urge to visit the toilet, and was surprised at what happened next. First, was that the stone - like feces came out with little push, though painful and then, excrete started flowing like a tap. After several minutes of flowing, I realized that the blockage has been excreted and i was having a sort of running stomach (diarrhea). Subsequently, my bowel movement returned to normal; though the running stomach lasted for almost 2 days, while the pain gradually disappeared.
Consequent to that incident, my assertion was that combination of the laxative tablets and the Castor Oil treated my constipation. However, after 4 months of this incident, I experienced another occasional constipation again. That was when two things became very obvious to me.The first I realized is that diets like ofe akwu or banga stew causes constipation to me and secondly that using only Castor Oil can treat occasional constipation as the case may be.
On this second incident, my friend visited and we decided to prepare the banga stew again after I had been on tomatoes stew since the last experience. After enjoying the delicacy on that day and the next day, I began to notice gradual hardening of my feces and by the third day, the constipation has fully set in with the normal uncomfortable pains that accompanied it. But this time, I did not waste time to get a bottle of Castor Oil only from the nearby Pharmacy. (I took only castor oil this time without any laxative). I even started taken it immediately even when I have had breakfast that morning. While still in the office, i discovered that my stomach was making some kind of noise and I barely got into the house in the evening before rushing to the toilet. Behold, that blockage has cleared and it was as if a tap controlloing the flow of feces has been turned on in my anus. Stool flowed and flowed until i was convinced that the constipation has been treated.
From the above experiences, I have to conclude that castor oil can be very effective in the treatement of occasional constipation.
I therefore encourage my readers to comment and also share their experiences with constipation and various treatment methods they received, including treatment with castor oil as it is in my situation.
A bottle of Castor Oil
Brief Description of Castor Oil
Castor Oil is a colorless, odorless and tasteless vegetable oil obtained from castor bean seed in its purest form, used as a purgative (treatment of constipation), a lubricant, and in manufacturing oil-based products.Cultivators of castor beans remove the hull of the seed, before pressing it to obtain the oil.
The history of castor oil goes back a long way, with Ancient Egyptians allegedly using it for their lamps around 4000 BC. Greek travelers like Herodotus recorded that the Egyptians also used it as an ointment. Cleopatra reportedly used it for brightening the whites of her eyes. Over the years, castor oil has earned a phenomenal reputation for being a laxative, cathartic, and purgative medicine. Angelina Jolie and Britney Spears are just two famous fans of this restorative oil!
Castor oil is well known as a source of ricinoleic acid, a monounsaturated, 18-carbon fatty acid. Among fatty acids, ricinoleic acid is unusual in that it has a hydroxyl functional group on the 12th carbon. This functional group causes ricinoleic acid (and castor oil) to be more polar than most fats. The chemical reactivity of the alcohol group also allows chemical derivatization that is not possible with most other seed oils. Because of its ricinoleic acid content, castor oil is a valuable chemical in feedstocks, commanding a higher price than other seed oils
Average composition of castor seed oil / fatty acid chains
Average Percentage Range
85 – 95%
2 – 6%
1 – 5%
0.5 – 1%
0.5 – 1%
0.5 – 1%
0.3 – 0.5%
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Castor Oil and Treatment of Constipation: What the Experts Say
According to Nicola, a Naturopathic Nutritionist from the College of Naturopathic Medicine London in one of her blogs;does castor oil actually work for constipation?, stated that Castor Oil is effective and can be used in two ways for treatment of Constipation:
- A castor oil pack – created by soaking a cloth in castor oil and applying topically to the affected area
- Oral medication – 15ml a day, measured using a special measuring device/cup to ensure effective dosage is administered. It can also be taken with juice if preferred, to allow for easier consumption.
A castor oil pack, when placed on the skin, is thought to enhance circulation and promote healing to the affected area and therefore, when placed on the stomach, can improve digestion and may relieve constipation symptoms.
Castor oil, when taken orally, is broken down in your small intestines into something called ricinoleic acid that stimulates movement of the intestines, also known as peristalsis, and may help to move the stool along, preventing build-up or constipation.
According to WebMD, Castor Oil is used to treat constipation and may also be used to clean out the intestines before a bowel examination/surgery. Castor oil is known as a stimulant laxative and works by increasing the movement of the intestines, helping the stool to come out.
Also according to an article by WikiHow on how to relieve constipation with Castor Oil, it stated that Castor oil is extracted from castor beans and is a natural remedy for constipation. It functions as a stimulant laxative and lubricates your bowels without absorbing any moisture from the walls of your intestines. If you are experiencing occasional constipation, castor oil may help relieve your symptoms, but it can cause unpleasant side effects and is not safe for some people to use, so you should always consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using castor oil for constipation.