When you hear the words castor oil, what comes to mind? Do you envision your grandmother chasing you around with a tablespoon, trying to force feed you?
Now that we have your attention, let’s get right into it.
What is Castor Oil?
The uses of castor oil have come a long way since only being used to treat constipation. Castor oil is an oil that has been used for years. It is a type of vegetable oil that can be used in many different things. Medicine, food, skin care products, you name it. Castor oil is produced by extracting it from the seeds of a plant known as the Ricinus communis plant.
The seeds, which are also called castor beans, have a toxic enzyme known as ricin. But don’t worry as the heating process nullifies it, which allows us to safely use the oil. As we mentioned before, castor oil has many uses, which you might not know about.
Aside from medicine and food, castor oil can also be used as an industrial and fuel. In fact, back in the days of ancient Egypt, castor oil was the main source of fuel for lamps, a remedy to treat irritated eyes and was even given to pregnant women to stimulate their labor.
Benefits of Castor Oil
Castor oil has a lot of benefits you may not even know about. From helping you stay regular to keeping your skin clear, castor oil has come a long way.
1. It’s a Very Potent Laxative
Castor oil is considered to be one of the best natural laxatives to this day. Medical professionals have classified it as a stimulant laxative. In other words, castor oil can be used to increase the movement of a person’s muscles by pushing materials through their intestines, which helps clean out the bowels. Whenever castor oil is ingested, the small intestine breaks it down and releases ricinoleic acid. Once released, the acid is absorbed by the person’s intestines, creating a powerful laxative effect.
Multiple studies have shown that elderly people who take castor oil can experience a notable decrease in constipation, less strain during defecation and feelings of an incomplete bowel movement. Although castor oil is safe when consumed in small doses, consuming large doses of it can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Furthermore, castor oil is not a recommended long-term treatment for constipation.
2. Natural Moisturizer
Remember how we said that castor oil can be used in skin care products? It can also be used as a natural moisturizer by itself. Castor oil is loaded with ricinoleic acid, which is actually a monounsaturated fatty acid. Monounsaturated fatty acids are a special type of healthy fats that act as a humectant, which is able to moisturize the skin. Humectants are able to keep moisture by preventing water loss through the outer layer of a person’s skin.
Castor oil is a very common ingredient in cosmetics that are geared toward promoting hydration. People can use castor oil as an alternative to store-bought lotions and moisturizers. In fact, a lot of products that are found on the shelves contain harmful materials such as preservatives and dyes. These can cause a person’s skin to become irritated and tender. Using products with castor oil significantly reduces the exposure to these harmful ingredients.
Furthermore, castor oil is an inexpensive option for skincare as well. It can be used on your face and body. Castor oil is very thick, so it’s often combined with other oils like coconut, olive and almond oil.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that it may cause an allergic reaction for some people. If you’re considering using castor oil, always check with your doctor first.
3. It Helps Heal Wounds
One of the best castor oil benefits is its ability to promote healing. Using castor oil on wounds creates a moist area that helps prevent sores from drying out and cracking. A good example of this is a product known as Venelex. Venelex is a very popular ointment that medical offices use to treat wounds. This ointment contains castor oil and balm known as Peru baslam, which comes from the Myroxylon tree.
Castor oil also helps stimulate the growth of tissues, which creates a protective barrier between the wound and the area. In turn, this reduces the risk of infections. In addition, castor oil also reduces cornification, dryness and a buildup of dead skin cells that halt the healing process.
4. It Prevents Inflammation
Aside from healing wounds and making people’s skin softer, castor oil is also great at preventing inflammation. This is extremely useful for people who suffer from inflammatory disease such as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. Many studies have shown that castor oil can also reduce swelling and pain as well.
However, despite the astounding progress and recent results, medical professionals have reported that it needs more testing to be 100 percent sure it’s safe.
5. It Helps With Acne Problems
Anyone who has suffered with acne knows how problematic it can be. It seems like no matter what you do, the acne either stays the same or returns. Some people suffer from cystic acne, which causes tiny, pus-filled bumps, blackheads and huge, painful cysts on either the face or body.
On a side note, acne is also a primary cause of low self-esteem in teens. Luckily, castor oil has a number of qualities that can help reduce the symptoms of acne.
Although inflammation is considered a factor in the severity and development of acne. Putting castor oil on your skin can help reduce the inflammation. However, inflammation isn’t the only contributing factor to acne. It is also associated with specific types of bacteria that are found on a person’s skin. Castor oil acts similar to an antimicrobial, which helps prevent the overgrowth of bacteria.
6. Helps Fight Off Fungus
A rather uncommon benefit of castor oil is its ability to ward off fungus. Take Candida Albicans for example. This fungus is a common cause for oral health issues such as gum infections, an overgrowth of plaque and root canal infections. Castor oil contains antifungal properties, which makes it perfect to fight off things like the Candida fungus.
7. Keeps Your Scalp and Hair Healthy
Last, but not least, one of the most common castor oil benefits is keeping a person’s hair and scalp healthy. In fact, a lot of people use castor oil as a conditioner for their hair.
Castor oil is especially beneficial for people who suffer from dry or damaged hair. Applying healthy fats like castor oil routinely is a surefire way to reduce the risk of breakage and increase its flexibility.
Another way castor oil can benefit people is its ability to deal with dandruff, which is a very common scalp condition. Although there are a lot of causes for dandruff, it’s been linked to a condition known as seborrhoeic dermatitis. Seborrhoeic dermatitis is what causes scaly, red patches to develop on a person’s scalp. Castor oil can help because of the anti-inflammatory properties it possesses. Not to mention, it can help moisturize any irritated and dry skin as well as reduce the flaking.
Does Castor Oil Have Risks?
Of course, it does. Even with all these benefits, castor oil is far from perfect. It may have some side effects, depending on the person who uses it.
These side effects include:
- Inducing labor – This is considered to be the “most severe” side effect since doctors use it to induce labor. So, because of this reason, pregnant women must avoid all forms of castor oil.
- Diarrhea – Although it’s known for alleviating constipation, people who consume too much of it may have diarrhea. This can end up causing an imbalance in your electrolytes and dehydration.
- Allergic reactions – Some people may have very sensitive skin, so applying a large amount of castor oil at once is ill-advised. See how your body reacts to castor oil by using only a dab of it on your skin.
While these side effects aren’t life-threatening, you should still be aware of the potential of them occurring. This is especially true if you’re using castor oil to alleviate medical problems.
Every person is different and as such, castor oil can end up affecting you differently than it would others. Make sure that you check with your physician or primary healthcare provider if you have any kind of negative reactions.
Castor oil is a very diverse product that can do almost anything, ranging from being a source of fuel to relieving dry, itchy scalps. Not to mention, it has been used for thousands of years for a wide variety of health problems. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, yet effective multi-purpose oil, look no further than castor oil.