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The Health Wonders of Castor Oil: A Complete Guide

Updated on October 11, 2015
Castor Oil Plant
Castor Oil Plant | Source


Called by many names including castor, castor plant, castor oil plant, castor bean plant, or castor bean, this is a flowering specie that grows in tropical climates and is said to originate in East Africa, India, and southeast region of the Mediterranean Basin. When discovered, most of the stocks were sourced from the wild. However, today, it is already commercially grown in many plantations all over the world.

The ripe seeds are harvested and crushed, until the oil comes out. The extracted oil is then extracted, filtered, purified, and refined to be used for many purposes, especially medical. One seed contains 40 to 60 percent natural oil that is a great source of triglycerides (a main component or active agent of our body's skin oils) and ricinolein, known for its purgative (facilitates bowel movements) and solvent use.

A Brief History

The discovery dates back to 4000 BC, when the seeds of this plant were found in Egypt’s burial grounds. It was said that the Egyptians as well as the travelers from Greece, particularly Herodotus (the Father of History), used the seeds’ oil to light lamps, treat skin problems, and grow hair. Supporting this finding is an ancient Egyptian herbal knowledge manuscript, Papyrus Ebers, which characterizes the plant’s oil as a medicine facilitating better bowel movement.

In another factual account, the Indians have been using castor oil in many ways (since 2000 BC), including fueling lamps, treating constipation, deworming, and healing arthritis. On the other hand, there are also a few records showing that the Chinese have been using the plant for many decades in treating diseases and dressings in native foods.

Medical Usage

Castor oil has been used for many medicinal purposes, particularly those relating to the skin, hair and bowel. Here are the top three, with corresponding steps.

Skin Conditions

As the oil is rich in triglycerides, it can treat most of the skin dilemmas, such as pimples, acne, sunburns, dry skin, itchy and irritated skin, and even stretch marks.

To make the most out of its healing power, refer to these guidelines:

1. Get a cotton ball and dip it into the oil for a few seconds.

2. Apply the wet cotton ball directly into the affected area in circular motion.

3. Leave the oil in your skin for thirty minutes to an hour, or until you feel the oil has penetrated well. You can choose to leave the oil overnight too.

4. Wash your face with water gently, making sure that you don’t rub the oil off or any inflamed portion.

Do these steps regularly, early in the morning and before you sleep at night to achieve faster and better results.

Hair Problems

Do you want to have a hair that is long, shiny, full of volume and free from split-ends, dandruff or breakage?

Don’t look any further as castor oil is here. It is the answer to all your hair concerns.

This oil allows blood to circulate well towards hair follicle and contains essential fatty acids your hair needs.

Get that healthy and envious hair through the following steps:

1. Wash your hair thoroughly using shampoo. Making sure that it is free from dirt and shampoo residue.

2. Put enough oil on the palm of your right hand and apply it to your hair.

3. Using both hands, massage the scalp of your hair using the oil.

4. Comb your hair in order to get rid of any fallen hair.

5. Using a shower cap, cover your hair and leave the oil into your hair overnight for deep penetration.

6. Wash your hair and you’re good to go.

Unhealthy Bowel Movement

Remember that castor oil has ricinolein so it can be used to treat problems relating to bowel movements. Take constipation for that matter. To treat this, you just need to take one teaspoon every morning for three days.

If you can’t take the taste of the oil, you can combine it with juice from oranges, cranberries, and prunes. This procedure should cure your constipation soon.

Possible Side Effects

Just like any other medicine in the market today, it can have side effects in a few cases. But of course, with correct usage (avoiding overdose or taking more than what is recommended) and medical prescription, taking castor oil is definitely safe. Pregnant or lactating mothers and those individuals who have recurring intestinal or abdominal problems should take extra caution because the use of this oil might result to dizziness, mood changes, nausea, diarrhea, stomach ache, cramps, and itchiness.

The Bottom Line

Castor oil has been proven and tested effective to treat many health conditions in some instances, but then it is still subject to further study until now. Furthermore, one should be very careful with its usage just like any other medicine. It is highly recommended that you get a prescription from a doctor beforehand.

Other variety of castor plant:

Do you think castor oil is a great alternative medicine?

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    • Mark Tulin profile image

      Mark Tulin 12 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      My granny used to use it all the time. I'll keep it in mind. Can't hurt.

    • Evane profile image

      Eva 2 years ago from Philippines

      Indeed! We were even using the oil of this plant even before this came out commercially. Our grandparents have proven the effectiveness of this plant.

      It is very good for the hair. It works better than olive oil for the hair actually :)

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Castor oil was thought to be that miracle drug many years ago. Our ancestors weren't off the mark.

      Good information and I may be using it on my hair!

    • Evane profile image

      Eva 2 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Gilbert!

      Sure :) It makes me happy when I am able to help :)

    • rebelogilbert profile image

      Gilbert Arevalo 2 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      Thanks for the helpful information, Evane.

    • Evane profile image

      Eva 2 years ago from Philippines

      Hi lollyj lm! Yeah, thank you for taking the time to read as well. :)

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 2 years ago from Washington KS

      Excellent, informative, helpful article. Thanks for sharing this. I learned something new!!