Castor oil has so many incredible anti-inflammatory benefits that have been used for many of years. It’s used to help immune function, digestive health, lymphatic health and even circulation. It dates back to ancient egyptians who used it for treating eye irritation and a variety of skin issues.
This post contains information that has not been approved by the FDA. I am not a healthcare professional and don’t claim to be one. Always consult your medical provider before starting dietary supplements or recommendations. Seek medical attention if you are in need of help or have a medical condition.
I remember the first time I heard of castor oil, I was so clueless. I thought that it was engine oil for a car and went looking at the wrong part of the store for it. New to the idea of natural health and natural remedies, it was something I never heard of. My naturopathic doctor recommended it for me as I was healing from ulcerative colitis. Desperate for relief, I went searching for castor oil.
Fast forward 7 years later, castor oil remains a supportive detox tool that I keep in my home. It’s something I will never go without because I’ve seen it work for me, my husband, and my children. It’s incredibly good for inflammation, constipation, abdominal pain, the digestive system, hormonal support, and so much more! While it isn’t a cure all product, it is a great supportive tool that you can use while healing from a sickness or if you struggle with chronic constipation.
What Is Castor Oil?
Castor oil is one of the oldest cultivated crops. It’s derived from the the seeds of the castor bean plant known as ricinus communis. The castor beans (aka castor seeds) are commonly harvested in India and Africa. It’s known as a non-volitale fatty oil and is also sometimes called ricinus oil. The color of castor oil varies from dark amber to light amber with a very mild scent that is not over powering. The texture is very thick and somewhat sticky. If you are not careful, it can stain clothing and anything that it comes in contact with.
Most people apply castor oil topically while some will take it internally. While I do not have experience with taking it internally, you have to be careful before consuming castor oil since it is a type of laxative. The benefits of castor oil all comes down to it’s chemical makeup. It’s classified as a triglyceride fatty acid and 90% of it’s fatty acid content is a rare and specific compound called ricinoleic acid. Ricinoleic acid is an incredible compound not found in any other plant, making castor bean very unique.
Studies show that ricnoleic acid reduces swelling and inflammation associated with pain. Studies suggest that when applying castor oil topically, it can decrease pain that’s associate with arthritis symptoms and may be more effective than over the counter topical prescription drugs. Castor oil has also been shown to be:
- Antioxidant rich
- Great for Wound healing
- Great Anti-diabetic
- A great liver support
- Stimulant laxative
- Relief of occasional constipation
- Great hormonal support
- Promote healthy sleep
Health Benefits Of Castor Oil
As I mentioned, I used castor oil to help while healing from ulcerative colitis. I struggled for so many years with rectal bleeding, severe pain, chronic inflammation of my GI tract, and struggled keeping weight on. It was truly a hard time in my life and I praise the Lord that I have made it through those tough times. Castor oil was one of the many tools that truly helped decrease inflammation while I worked with my practitioner. Even still I use it to help with occasional constipation. Small lifestyle changes like this, truly changed my quality of life while I was healing.
I would use castor oil packs instead of taking it internally. because it is not recommend for those who already have digestive issues such as IBD or IBS. Applying the oil from the bottom of my rib cage, I covered my entire abdomen all the way down to my pubic bone. This took about a tablespoon of castor oil. I would massage it all over my abdomen, making sure to get it over my liver and digestive track. After, I would apply a flannel cloth and then a heating pad on top of that. I even did this while I was pregnant because my naturopathic doctor at the time told me it was safe for pregnant women but without the heating pad of course!
Applying castor oil topically is believed to be the most effective way to get the anti-inflammatory benefits. It gets directly absorbed through the pores and is one of the many different ways you can decrease inflammation in certain areas. When you use it with the heating pad, it will help to drive the castor oil deeper and I find it incredibly therapeutic. I have even used castor oil packs on my newborn babies to help with colic. Skip the heating pad if it’s for children under 2.
Not many people know of this one. Since castor oil is great for inflammation, it is super helpful for mastitis. I had mastitis with my second child and took all of the supplements but I truly believe applying castor oil and a heating pad on top is what helped me so quickly.
Just like you apply it to your digestive tract you can apply it to the breast that is infected. Massage the oil in, put the flannel cloth, and then apply your heating pad. You will not regret it! You also don’t have to worry about medication being in your breast milk, castor oil will not throw off your milk production or mess with your nursing baby.
Improve Lymphatic System
If you’ve read my blog you know I’m a lymphatic therapist and LOVE lymphatic health. Castor oil is one of the many ways to support your lymphatic system and boost your immune system naturally. It promotes healthy circulation which in turn helps the lymphatic system. We know that the lymphatic system is the highway for the immune system so if that is functioning at its full potential you can expect to see the circulatory and digestive system operating properly.
By doing castor oil packs, you are supporting not only your digestive system, but your lymphatic system, liver, and circulatory system.
I also would like to mention, I applied castor oil to my children’s jaw line while they were teething to help decrease the inflammation in that area. I noticed a difference when I would apply it for them!
Moisturize Skin And Promotes Hair Growth
I find coconut oil to get a lot of attention for skin and hair but castor oil really is the best. It’s a single ingredient oil and contains fatty acids that are beneficial for the skin. I would aim for organic, hexane free, and cold pressed to ensure the best quality.
It’s incredibly for stimulating hair growth and has incredible moisturizing benefits for the skin. It helps to boost circulation to the hair follicle making it great for hair growth. With regular use, women have seen castor oil help their eye lashes and eye brows grow as well! It’s truly all around a great oil. In fact, in many skincare products you will notice castor oil along with olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil. All great for nourishing the skin and hair.
Just apply a small amount of castor oil to areas of the scalp you would like before showering. Leave in for 15-20 minutes and then wash out with shampoo. If using for your eye lashes or eyebrows you can use your finger to swipe the castor oil on the hair. I sleep with it on my eye lashes.
When taken orally, it can act as a mild laxative. There are so many laxative products that have so many scary ingredients in them. Castor oil is a single ingredient oil and if taken properly and carefully can help to relieve infrequent bowel movements. While constipation is a common problem it is not normal. Constipation can be a serious medical problem if not tended to soon enough. You want to have at least one or two regular bowel movements a day. If not, natural laxative options are a great place to start!
Ricinoleic acid, found in castor oil gets released into the digestive system where it helps the process of digestion, and cleansing the system. It helps to increase movement of the muscles that help to push bowels through the intestines. This helps to get movement and promote healthy circulation within the digestive tract. It’s recommended to take it no longer than a week because it can cause potential side effects. I’ve seen adults taking one teaspoon once or twice a day to relieve constipation. Ask your practitioner what’s best for you!
There are some contraindications with castor oil and taking it internally. Beware if you have ulcers, IBS, or IBD this may not be the best route for you. I would opt for castor oil packs as mentioned above. This can be safe for constipated toddlers and young children, just make sure you consult your healthcare provider for the proper dosage of castor oil. They can tell you whether or not it’s a good idea for your particular situation as well.
May Help Induce Labor
Castor oil has been used for so many years as a way to induce labor naturally. Pregnant women who have reached full term will take it orally to help speed up uterine contractions. While it can be helpful for jump starting labor and getting contractions going, make sure you consult with your health care provider to make sure castor oil is the right route for you. I personally did not feel like it was neccassry for me in my pregnancies because I like to let my body start labor on its own.
It’s said that ricinoleic acid in the oil can activate EP3 prostanoid receptors in the uterus. There are some animal studies that show active compounds in the oil attach to molecules that make muscles in the uterus and intestines to contract. That study can be found here.
I’m sure there is a time and place for castor oil. Just make sure to do your research on possible interactions and find a complete list of possible side effects. The last thing anyone would want is adverse effects before having their baby. I haven’t heard of any bad stories from women taking castor oil to start labor but, I have heard it can make the laboring mother very nauseated.
Where To Buy Castor Oil
When looking for castor oil, make sure to read the product package to see if there are any added ingredients. You want to look for pure, organic, cold pressed, and hexane free castor oil. This will ensure you are using the highest quality and will get the best results! I have heard great things about Queen of Thrones castor oil but have not purchased from them yet. I currently use Heritage Store’s Organic Castor oil . They also sell the flannel cloth I mentioned above!
Have you used castor oil for its health benefits? I’d love to hear how you use it in the comments below!