Castor oil is one of the oldest known oils to humans. Extracted from the castor plant and coming largely from Africa and India, this oil is one of the most well known herbal remedies around and oldsters in particular have prescribed for everything from stomach aches to limp hair! Castor oil is also favored because it has plenty of nutritional and therapeutic benefits. While some uses are kind of hokum, there are plenty of well-vetted, great uses for this vegetable oil.
Usually people have nothing but nasty things to say about vegetable oils, usually lumping them in with high fat, high cholesterol oils. However, the human body does and will make use of these oils. Castor oil is one of the good ones; it has a huge concentration of unsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, protein and minerals. All those nutrients are very good for us; they support good brain function, keep hair and skin healthy, protect our skin from the damaging effects of UV light and many more things! So use castor oil and enjoy the health benefits.
Great for the Skin
The fatty acids found in castor oil make it ideal for skincare. It can be used to reduce inflammation in the skin, get rid of infections, softens skin, dissolves cysts, growths and warts and to get rid of bunions and corns.
One of the best uses of castor oil is to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and stretch marks. These methods take a while to bear fruit, but the fatty acids found in the oil pushes out the depressed skin and plump it back out, smoothing imperfections. Again, don’t expect an overnight effect, but if you use it regularly, you should see some great skin results.
And finally, it can be used as an antifungal, making it great for things like Athlete’s foot. It’s also good for treating ringworm, acne and other skin blemishes.
Too much castor oil can certainly cause problems, but when it’s used properly, it can be helpful for a number of digestive issues. The most well known one is constipation where taking a dose of the oil gets things moving! But it can also be used to fight inflammatory bowel disease and bladder/vaginal infections (that antifungal property again!) But you should only take a little bit; too much and you’ll have bigger problems!
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, castor oil is great for getting rid of aches and pain. Many people swear by it as a way to relieve the effects of arthritis and sciatica and it can also be useful I n getting rid of migraines. The best way to use it is actually topically; apply the oil to sore joints and let it penetrate the skin to lubricate those joints. If you want to move things along, some people swear by adding things like cayenne or turmeric powder to warm the oil up and help improve its penetration abilities.
Great for the Hair
Back to the cosmetics! Castor oil can be really helpful in combating a number of healthy hair issues, including dry scalp, split ends and even hair loss. The helpful assistant here is vitamin E and the proteins which hair needs to stay healthy. While some people swear that castor oil can help hair grow thicker and reduce hair loss, the best uses are to condition and moisturize hair to make sure it stays healthy and to treat dry scalp and scalp infections.
Running late on the baby and you don’t want to be inducted artificially? Well, some people swear by castor oil. The jury is out on whether or not it actually works (some studies have said absolutely not; other people have sworn by it), but when you’re 40 weeks in, can’t sleep, can barely breathe and just want it out, you’ll probably be happy to try just about anything! It certainly can’t hurt anything, as long as you are careful about its use.
May Help with Drug Delivery
Some oncologists working in the cancer research fields have found that using castor oil can be a great way to deliver chemotherapy drugs to the tumors they are treating. A formula of the oil is now used as a carrier for paclitaxel which is used to treat metastic breast cancer. It’s not perfect; some people have allergic reactions and it should be used carefully and sparingly until the patient knows how they will react to it, but when it works, it works well. It may also work to shrink malignant cells and shrink tumors. There’s not enough research to date to fully support the claims, but something is better than nothing!
May stimulate the Lymph Node System
Again, the jury is out on this one, but in 1999, a study was conducted to see how castor oil reacts to damaged lymph nodes and cells. The results were positive (tentatively); the castor oil packs appeared to increase the number of T-11 cells over the two hour period of application and for seven hours after. T-11 cells are used by the body to help lymph nodes shrink and return to normal functioning, so it’s promising, if not part of the mainstream.
Castor oil isn’t perfect of course and there are a number of things to be careful of when you use it. First of all, taking too much castor oil can cause a range of side effects:
- Upset stomach
- Stomach cramps
You also have to be careful about from where you get your oil; some of it comes from seeds that were sprayed with pesticides, chemically processed and end up with more harmful effects than good ones. And of course, some people will just be allergic to it, so it’s important to take it carefully, monitor the effects and change up your doses based on what you see. However, for those who are looking for a good home remedy for a broad spectrum of problems, castor oil may be a good place to start. Good luck!