When you hear it mentioned, you can imagine yourself as a child again grimacing as your mother persuades you to take a tablespoon of castor oil. It’s a classic laxative that people have used since prehistoric times, but did you know that it has other benefits? Ricinus communis is a plant commonly called castor bean.
According to an article published by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a perennial plant with large tropical leaves and exotic red flowers and pods. Although native to Africa and parts of Asia, castor bean plants have also become naturalized in America, according to the article.
You will often see castor bean bean plants for sale in plant nurseries. Although they are impressive ornamental plants, you should keep your children and pets away from their deadly seeds. How can something so fatal become a suitable product for your health?
From toxic to beneficial
This large woody shrub produces strange seed-filled pods, called castor beans. An article published by Toxins shares that these seeds are the source of ricin, one of the deadliest toxins known.
The good news is that when the oil from the seeds goes through a pressing process, the toxic is neutralized, leaving a completely safe product for use.
For years, castor oil has been used for pharmaceutical and industrial purposes. In some factories, it is used as an effective lubricant for heavy machinery. It can also have environmental benefits, as it is one of the many organic components used in biodiesel fuel. Instead of kerosene, castor oil can be burned in lamps, as the ancient Egyptians did.
Before you start using castor oil, make sure you use the best kind. Cold-pressed oil comes from the initial crushing of the beans without added heat or chemicals. It is the purest and best form to use.
Fortunately, this oil is relatively inexpensive and easy to find in pharmacies, supermarkets, or online. While other brands may have slight color variations, cold-pressed oil has a light yellow color. Since it is not heated, this purest form preserves all the beneficial vitamins and fatty acids.
Possible health benefits of using castor oil
Most people are only familiar with using this oil to relieve constipation. However, it can be useful for a number of things, such as skin and hair. Here are some castor oil health benefits to consider.
1. Use it as a laxative
For generations of children who experienced tummy aches, parents often had castor oil on hand. Unfortunately, it has a distinctive “oily” smell and a thick, unpleasant taste. Although it is not easily accepted by children and adults, castor oil can provide quick and effective relief from occasional constipation.
It is known as a stimulant laxative, which means that the components of the oil stimulate the lining of the colon. Because it is naturally stimulated, the colon slowly moves and contracts to expel waste more easily. An article published by DailyMed recommends that adults take 1-3 teaspoons in a single dose, with relief in 6-12 hours or less.
If you have occasional bowel irregularities, the article states, the oil is generally safe. However, it is not for chronic constipation. Check with your GP if castor oil is right for you.
One trick you can use to make the oil a little more palatable is to chill it and mix 1 to 3 teaspoons in a glass of fruit juice. Some pharmacy products are a mixture of oil and flavoring. Whether you drink it on its own or mask the taste, the oil should give you a welcome relief.
2. A rich moisturizer for the skin
Do you fight against dry and itchy skin? Did you know that castor oil is an ideal moisturizer? It’s no wonder that many cosmetics and facial products include it as an ingredient. This vegetable oil has beneficial fatty acids that work to lock in moisture in the skin.
It also penetrates deep into your skin and can help stimulate elastin and collagen production. These are the compounds that keep your complexion smooth and elastic. Using the oil can help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
If you want a natural elevated moisturizing solution, try mixing a teaspoon of the oil with a carrier like jojoba or coconut oil. Once you’ve finished your nighttime skin routine, use a cotton ball to dab the oil in and gently apply it to your face, especially around the forehead, eyes, and mouth. You can also use the oil on rough skin areas on the knees, elbows, and hands.
As a warning, everyone is different and even natural products can cause an allergic reaction. Do a small patch test on the inside of your arm to see if it reacts. If you notice redness or irritation, stop using the oil immediately.
3. Promotes healthier hair
Are you tired of paying high prices for hair treatments? Many ancient cultures used oil extracted from castor seeds to nourish their hair. While some people have used it to promote hair growth, there is no published evidence that it is possible.
The oil is a rich source of vitamins and fatty acids that can protect and strengthen your hair. It is also good for people who have dry scalps and dandruff. Again, do a little testing on your scalp in case your skin is too sensitive for it.
Do you have fine or medium straight hair? Apply a few drops of the oil to your hands and gently massage into the lower ends of your mane, then shampoo. It can help reduce dryness and split ends. Remember to use only a few drops of oil because the greasy texture can easily weigh down fine and medium hair.
If your locks are wavy or curly, mix a couple of drops of the oil in your regular conditioner. You can also use it as a weekly deep conditioner with a warm towel for 20 minutes; then shampoo as usual.
Maybe your hair is straight and thick. You can use a few drops of the oil to work from the scalp to the ends of the hair. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes and wash it off with shampoo.
Regardless of the type of hair you have, castor oil is generally safe and beneficial. For healthier brows, use a small makeup brush to dab a little oil on each brow. You can also use it on your eyelashes; be careful not to get it in your eyes.
4. Promotes beautiful and healthy nails
Like your hair, your nails are made up of one protein called keratin. The same oil that nourishes your beautiful locks can also promote stronger, healthier nails. Consider using it for fingers and toes.
Place 2-3 drops of this oil on a cotton ball or swab and gently massage your cuticles before going to bed. Do the same with the cuticles of the toenails. The vitamin E and essential fatty acids in the oil can make a noticeable difference on your nails.
5. Protect your teeth from fungus
In fact, there is a fungus among us because many species live naturally inside and outside the body. One of the most common is candida, which is a type of yeast. If you have candida overgrowth, especially Candida albicans, it can cause tooth, mouth, and gum infections.
Castor oil is a powerful antifungal and can destroy this overgrowth. If you have dentures, this fungus can be responsible for sore gums and mouth sores. A study published by the Oral Rehabilitation Magazine demonstrates the oil’s ability as an antifungal for denture wearers.
6. Can help reduce inflammation
Inflammation is your body’s response to infection or injury. Often times, conditions such as arthritis or psoriasis can cause redness, swelling, and pain in the joints. This oil has compounds that can reduce inflammation and associated pain.
Add 2-3 drops of the oil to a cotton ball and gently rub the joints and areas where you have painful inflammation. If the site has a rash or the skin is broken, you should use it with caution. When using the oil topically, it is generally safe to apply it 1-2 times a day.
A warning about castor oil
From the time of its discovery, castor oil has been used to induce labor naturally. If you are pregnant at any stage, avoid using it internally or externally. According to an article published by LactMed, nursing mothers should also consider using another laxative product.
Once you have found the many possible benefits of using this natural oil, it can become part of your beauty routine. It is also good for hair, nails and for removing stubborn fungus. Did you already know about the castor oil benefits, or did you learn something new? Please share your comments with us.