When you hear it mentioned, you may imagine yourself as a kid again making a face as your mother coaxes you into taking a spoonful of castor oil. It’s a classic laxative that people have used since prehistoric times, but did you know that it has several other benefits? Ricinus communis is a plant commonly called the castor bean.
According to an article published by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, it’s a perennial with large tropical-like leaves and exotic red blooms and pods. Although they are native to Africa and parts of Asia, castor bean plants have also naturalized in America, per the article.
You will often see castor bean plants for sale in plant nurseries. Although they are stunning ornamental plants, you should keep your children and pets away from their deadly seeds. How can something so fatal turn into a product suitable for your health?
From Toxic to Beneficial
This large woody shrub produces strange pods filled with seeds, 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 you to use.
For years, castor oil has been used for pharmaceutical and industrial purposes. In some factories, it’s used as an efficient lubricant for heavy machinery. It may also have environmental benefits since it’s one of the many organic components used in biodiesel fuel. Instead of kerosene, oil from castor beans can be burned in lamps, as the Ancient Egyptians did.
Before you start using castor oil, be sure to use the best kind. Cold-pressed oil comes from the initial crushing of the beans without heat or added chemicals. It’s the purest form and the best to use.
Thankfully, this oil is relatively inexpensive and easy to find at pharmacies, grocery stores, or online. While other brands may have slight color variances, cold-pressed oil has a light yellow color. Since it’s not heated, this purest form retains all the beneficial vitamins and fatty acids.
Possible Health Benefits from Using Castor Oil
Most people are only familiar with using this oil to relieve constipation. However, it may be useful for several things, such as for your skin and hair. Here are a few castor oil health benefits for you to consider.
1. Use as a Laxative
For generations of children who experienced tummy aches, parents often kept castor oil on hand. Unfortunately, it has a distinct “oily” smell and a thick, disagreeable taste. Although children and adults don’t readily take to it, the oil from castor beans can provide quick, effective relief from occasional constipation.
It’s known as a stimulant laxative, which means that components in the oil stimulate the lining of the colon. As it’s naturally stimulated, the sluggish colon moves and contracts to expel waste easier. An article published by DailyMed recommends that adults take between 1-3 teaspoons in a single dose, with relief between 6-12 hours or less.
If you have occasional bowel irregularities, states the article, the oil is usually safe. However, it’s not for chronic constipation. Consult with your primary healthcare provider if oil from castor beans is right for you.
One trick you might use to make the oil a bit more palatable is chilling it and mixing 1-3 teaspoons in a glass of fruit juice. Some products in the pharmacy are a mixture of oil and flavoring. Whether you drink it straight up or mask the taste, the oil should bring you some welcomed relief.
2. A Rich Skin Moisturizer
Do you battle with dry, itchy skin? Did you know that oil from castor beans is an ideal moisturizer? No wonder many cosmetics and facial products list it as an ingredient. This vegetable oil has beneficial fatty acids that work to retain moisture in your skin.
It also penetrates deep into your skin and may help boost elastin and collagen production. These are the compounds that keep your complexion smooth and elastic. Using the oil may help minimize the appearance of small lines and wrinkles.
If you want an elevated natural moisturizing solution, try mixing a teaspoon of the oil with a carrier such as a jojoba or coconut oil. After you’ve finished your evening skin routine, use a cotton ball to dip into the oil and dab it gently on your face, especially around your forehead, eyes, and mouth. You can also use the oil on rough patches of skin on your knees, elbows, and hands.
As a word of caution, everybody is different, and even natural products can cause an allergic reaction. Do a little patch test on the inner part of your arm to see if you react. If you notice any redness or irritation, stop using the oil immediately.
3. Promote Healthier Hair
Are you tired of paying high prices for hair treatments? Many ancient cultures used oil pressed from castor beans to nourish their tresses. While some people have used it to promote hair growth, there’s no published evidence that it’s possible.
The oil is a rich source of vitamins and fatty acids that can protect and strengthen your hair. It’s also good for people who have dry scalp and dandruff. Again, test a little on your scalp just 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 it into the lower ends of your mane, then shampoo. It may help reduce dryness and split ends. Remember only to use 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—afterward, shampoo as usual.
Maybe your hair is straight and thick. You can use a few drops of oil to work from your scalp out to the ends of your hair. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes and shampoo it out.
No matter what type of hair you have, the oil from castor beans is usually safe and beneficial. For healthier eyebrows, use a small makeup brush to dab a little oil through each brow. You can also use it on your eyelashes; be careful not to get it into your eyes.
4. Promote Healthy, Beautiful Nails
Like your hair, your nails are composed of a protein called keratin. The same oil that nourishes your lovely locks can also promote stronger and healthier nails. Consider using it for your fingers and your toes.
Place 2-3 drops of this oil on a cotton ball or swab and gently massage it into your cuticles before you go to bed. Do the same with the cuticles of your toenails. The vitamin E and essential fatty acids in the oil may make a noticeable difference in your nails.
5. Protect Your Teeth from Fungus
There’s indeed a fungus among us because many species live naturally in and on the body. One of the most common is candida, which is a type of yeast. If you get an overgrowth of candida, especially Candida albicans, it can cause infections of your teeth, mouth, and gums.
The oil from castor beans is a potent antifungal, and it can destroy this overgrowth. If you have dentures, this fungus may be responsible for painful gum and mouth sores. A study published by the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation demonstrates the oil’s ability as an antifungal for denture wearers.
6. May Help Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is your body’s response to infections or injury. Often, diseases such as arthritis or psoriasis can cause redness, swelling, and joint pain. This oil has compounds that can reduce inflammation and the associated pain.