As part of a regular beauty and health regime, castor oil has a long history. The oil is derived by crushing the seeds of Ricinuscommunis plants. Most of these plants are found in India and Africa. It is commonly grown as a decorative garden plant in milder areas. Castor oil is a tested remedy for inflammation and bacterial infection since centuries. Historically, castor oil was also used for birth control purposes. The oil comprises of a toxin called Ricin, which is actually a protein. Ricin, when administered in low dosages, becomes a germicidal substance.
Owing to this, it is currently used as a spermicide in spermicidal lotions and gels. However, in the past, castor oil was given to pregnant women in higher dosages to induce abortions. This method of birth control was often fatal for the mother and is not recommended as a modern birth control technique. As the oil is rich in lubricating properties, it was one of the first vegetable oils used for industrial purposes. Castrol, a famous automotive lubricant company, actually derived its name from castor oil.
13 Health Benefits of Castor Oil
Castor oil has several different uses and here are some of these:
1. Hair Care
Castor oil is used for enhancing the quality and growth of hair. The oil greatly improves circulation and stimulates hair follicles when it is massaged onto the scalp. For better results, the oil should be heated a bit before use. Apply lukewarm oil on the scalp and massage gently to get shinier and stronger hair. The fungicidal, insecticidal and germicidal of Ricinoleic acid and Ricin present in castor oil guards the hair and scalp from fungal and microbial infection, which are major causes of hair loss. Moreover, the fatty acids in the oil nurture the hair and retain moisture for preventing dryness of the scalp.
2. Relieves Rheumatism
Oleic Acid, Linoleic Acid and Ricinoleic Acid along with other fatty acids present in castor oil serve as effective treatments for gout, arthritis and rheumatism. They penetrate through the skin easily and can be used in conjunction with other remedies to enhance its effect for relieving rheumatism.
3. Treats Athlete’s Foot
A lesser-known benefit of using castor oil is it is helpful in treating athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is a fungus infection. Thanks to the antifungal quality of Castor oil, getting rid of athlete’s foot is possible by applying the oil on the affected area. Repeat for several days and you will observe a visible difference.
Castor oil is one of the many natural substances that work well for stimulating milk secretion. This is why castor oil not only enhances and eases milk flow, it also improves the milk’s quality, as it comprises of fatty acids. Care should be taken for consuming the oil in a cold-compressed form only so as not to cause any complications for the health of the infant.
5. Relieves Menstrual Disorders
Castor oil contains Ricinoleic acid, which is an emmenagogue by nature. This acid ensures a less painful or delayed menstrual cycle. It relieves pain and discomfort during menstruation and should be consumed in small quantities for better results.
6. Good for Skin Care
Castor seed oil comprises of Undecylenic Acid, which is extremely beneficial for treating skin ulcers and other skin diseases. Because of its disinfectant and germicidal properties, the oil has been used by millions of people all around the globe for treating fungal and bacterial infections. Whether you use it topically or in supplement form, it has a proven history of enhancing the quality of skin and is a popular home remedy for skin infections.
7. A Soothing Lip Balm
Just as castor oil is good for hair and skin, it can be a soothing lip balm for chapped lips. Even though tasting castor oil can be an awkward experience, we cannot deny the fact it works miraculously for fixing dry and cracked lips. Place a few drops of castor oil on your lips using your finger. Let it dry and make sure you don’t taste it.
8. Cures Insomnia
Going through bouts of insomnia? Castor oil has been a tested treatment for relieving disturbed sleep patterns. If you are having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, maybe you need a bit of castor oil to cure your insomnia. By applying a little castor oil on the eyelids, you can induce sound sleep. However, be careful and don’t apply generous amounts of the oil. You will be surprised at how revitalized and refreshed you feel when you wake up.
9. Treats Ingrown Toenails
People have long used castor oil for curing dry and brittle nails. Castor oil is widely used for strengthening and growing nails. Rub a few drops of castor oil on your nails and toes to get shiny and strong nails throughout the year. This will help particularly in the winter season. Since it maintains good nail health, castor oil also treats ingrown toenails that can be painful or cause discomfort while walking or running.
10. Boosts Immunity
If you are prone to infections, add castor oil in your diet. It doesn’t matter if it is consumed in its natural form or as a supplement. A regular intake of castor oil gradually strengthens the immune system as it increases the production of white blood cells for fighting infections. Castor oil has been shown t,o increase the production of lymphocytes and the count of T-11 cells, which is a type of white blood cells within hours of application. This helps the body generate more antibodies and successfully kill bacteria, viruses, fungi and even cancer cells.
11. Cysts and Moles
Mix a pinch of baking soda into some castor oil for applying on unwanted moles and cysts. Topical application helps solve all corns and cysts related problems as they dissolve with regular use. Castor oil is also believed to be helpful in dissolving cysts in the ovary as the oil has fatty acid that is easily absorbed by the skin.
12. Cures Ringworms
Ringworm, which is an itching skin disease, is common among people of all ages. The active compound undecylenic acid assists in ringworm treatment. Use it topically regularly and you will see the ringworms disappear with time.
13. For Constipation
One of the most popular uses of castor oil is its use as a laxative. When ingested orally, ricinoleic acid is discharged in the intestine and functions as a laxative. The heat generated by castor oil instigates the action by aiding the digestion process for cleansing the system. It helps facilitate proper bowel movement. Castor oil is widely used as a purgative since ancient times and as an effective treatment for extreme cases of constipation when bulk laxatives are of little or no help.
Prior to applying castor oil on the skin, use a sample for performing an allergy test. If you must ingest castor oil orally, make sure you are aware of the exact quantity you should swallow for getting the desired effect. An overdose can result in dehydration and can be fatal in severe cases. A few side effects of unmonitored use of castor oil include dizziness, nausea, hallucinations, abdominal cramps and a tightened throat.