Castor oil has been used in soaps, lubricants, hydraulic and brake fluids, paints, dyes, coatings, inks, cold resistant plastics, waxes and polishes, nylon, pharmaceuticals and perfumes and for medical reasons for hundreds of years..
The Greek physician Dioscorides even described how to extract the oil from the plant, but warned that the seeds should be used externally only as they are “extremely purgative.”
Ricinoleic acid, the main property of castor oil is a fatty acid that makes up about 90% of the oil. Researchers discovered castor oil binds to one particular receptor in the intestines and uterus. Stefan Offermanns, a biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Germany discovered why castor oil works in the intestines and the uterus.
“EP 3- and EP4. Both are prostaglandin receptors, which have varied roles in the body, from changing the structure of neurons to controlling how blood clots. In experiments on mice, the researchers showed that ricinoleic acid induces its laxative and labor-inducing effects by interacting with EP3. When someone swallows castor oil, ricinoleic acid latches onto EP3 molecules in smooth muscle cells on the walls of the small intestine and causes contractions. This explains how castor oil’s effectiveness as a laxative.”
More tests on this new link between EP3 and intestine and uterine muscle cells is being studied now. A possible end result would be to design drugs that target the receptor without any side effects. However, there is still much testing to be done.
The History of Castor Oil
If you’re any age, most likely you remember your childhood with the threat of being forced to take castor oil if you did something wrong or naughty like thinking you might get a day off from school, if you said you didn’t feel well. However, mom would give you a tablespoon or two of castor oil and then send you off for the day.
Or you might have heard how Italian dictator’s D’Annunzio, Farinacci, and Mussolini used castor oil as their secret weapon to keep their troops under control and toeing the line. Being fascist leaders they believed castor oil would help them against subversives! It is a very effective laxative. Too much and you may be sitting on the toilet for several days.
The Most Important Item to Remember
Castor oil’s main property is ricinoleic acid, which has a laxative effect on the intestines. It may take from a couple of hours to six hours to start working but it will work. Be careful NOT to take too much at one time if you don’t want to spend several hours in the bathroom. Also, remember if you use a castor oil pack, the ricinoleic acid will absorb through your skin for giving you the same effect as taking it orally.
The Beginnings of Castor Oil Use
You can trace the beginnings of castor oil use back to an Egyptian medical text from 1500 BC. The Egyptians used it to protect the eyes, for facial oils and in wick lamps for lighting. It has been found in Egyptian tombs dating from 4000 BC.
The United States has used castor oil since the 1800s. It was traded by traveling medicine men who mixed it with 40% alcohol, and peddled it as a heroic cure for everything from constipation to heartburn, a balm for skin problems and a soothing tonic for alleviating allergies. It was also used to induce labor.
At our present time, castor oil is used internally as a laxative and externally as a castor oil pack or poultice. Edgar Cayce (an American clairvoyant) states, “Castor Oil is used for treating many ailments that resist traditional therapies. It can be applied as a balm for skin problems, a soothing tonic for alleviating allergies, and as a “castor oil pack.”.
The Many Uses of Castor Oil
Castor oil contains beneficial components, including fatty acids, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, amino acids, terpenoids and phytosterols. These properties give the following potential health benefits for those who use it:
- Anti-diabetic – many websites claim castor oil helps with type 1 & 2 diabetes, however, I could not find any references in alternative medicine for using it to help with diabetes. I also could not find any referenced medical studies or clinical tests with castor oil. I suggest you talk with your doctor or herbalist before using castor oil to control diabetes. A better way would be by portion control using fruits, vegetables, fish and exercise. Here’s an interesting life story about a man with type 1 diabetes and the use of castor oil packs. https://cayce.com/health-information/controlling-diabetes-the-edgar-cayce-way/
- Hepatoprotective (ability to prevent damage to the liver)
- Free radical scavenging
The oil of the castor plant has been used in traditional medicine for the following health conditions:
- Abdominal disorders
- Muscle aches
- Parasitic infections
- Gall bladder pain
- Rheumatism or any type of joint pain
- Sleep problems like insomnia
One of the main reasons why castor oil is so good for the body is it supports the body’s lymphatic system. The lymph system absorbs and removes excess fluids, proteins and waste materials from our cells. The lymph nodes also produce antibodies to stave off foreign proteins or bacterium that enters your body. You know your lymph nodes are working if you notice your lymph node is enlarged. This means its pumping out high amounts of antibodies to fight off an infection.
Taking castor oil will keep your lymphatic system working properly. That means you’ll have great immunity to infections, bacteria and other foreign protein that enter your body. If the lymph system is not working correctly, it can lead to unhealthy cells, which in turn may damage organs such as the heart that can have tissue damage from a poorly or unhealthy lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system keeps you healthy and disease free, if it’s working correctly.
How Much Castor Oil Should You Take (Dosage)?
Taking castor oil once a week is more than enough to help keep the body healthy.
Since castor oil is a great laxative and one that can work fairly fast, always start out with a low dose. No more than a teaspoon to begin with then increase to a tablespoon a day. Also, remember if you use a castor oil pack, the properties get absorbed through the pores of your skin. So, you will get an extra heavy dose if you take a tablespoon and use a castor oil pack all in the same day.
Also remember, every person’s body is different and has different problems, so start low and work your way up to what your body can handle.
Castor Oil Packs and How to Use Them
Castor packs are made from flannel, wool, or cotton fabric saturate in castor oil. Once soaked, lay them on the part of the body that’s troubling you wrapped in a towel. Apply heat from a heating pad or other type of heat source such as a hot towel wrapped in plastic or a hot water bottle.
The following YouTube.com video shows how to make and apply a castor oil pack. They are good for healing what doesn’t heal using traditional methods.
An Example How Castor Oil Packs Works
An example of how castor oil pack can be used is when my appendix flares up, which it did regularly since I was very young, about 8 years old. Certain foods such as pizza causes it to become inflamed. Hence, I don’t eat pizza very often. The last time it flared this is what I did!
I made a castor oil pack with plantain herb and applied it to my right side of my body on top of my appendix. I let is sit for about 45 minutes and the pain gradually faded away. After an hour when I removed the pack, the pain was completely gone.
Since my appendix is very touchy and flares up often, I started taking rhubarb root (Rheum palmatum) and moutan peony (Paeonia suffruticosa) (a Chinese formula for the right side of the body. It’s weird the way it only works on the right side) in pill form. It helps to keep my appendix from flaring up so I take this pill once a month.
Since I started taking rhubarb root and moutan peony I have not had any problems with my appendix. So far I have NOT had to have my appendix taken out. I’ve been taking it for about 3 years now and have not had any troubles, meaning no flares ups, pain or trouble with my appendix.
Are There Any Side effects?
Yes, and no, depending on what you consider a side effect. If you are using it for constipation, start out with a low dose, one tablespoon, then wait several hours before you take another tablespoon. Too many tablespoons can cause massive diarrhea lasting many hours. On the other hand, some people may react with:
- Skin rash
- Possible swelling, abdominal swelling is normal once the ricinoleic acid starts working since it does make your intestines contract, which in turn will move the waste out of the body
Many claim castor oil will heal “all that ails ya”, but remember there are very few scientific, medical, or clinical studies on castor oil.
If you experience any of these symptoms or an allergic reaction to castor oil seek medical attention immediately. Although, I don’t know what they will give you. The little amount taken will work its way out of the body pretty fast.
You should perform a skin patch test on a small area of your skin before applying more to your skin.
What’s the Best Kind of Castor Oil to Use?
Look for a cold-pressed, pure, organic castor oil. Don’t go by price, but by the quality of the oil.
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“Italy The rise of Mussolini”. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica. 2007. Archived from the original on October 14, 2007. Retrieved 09/12/2018.