When you were a kid, it’s possible your parents may have given you a diluted spoonful of castor oil every day (it was once a common practice—kind of like juicing is today). Although now it’s not as popular to take it daily for general well-being, castor oil uses are numerous and varied in the health and wellness realm. But interestingly enough, this oil, which comes from the seeds of the castor bean plant, has been revered well before our lifetimes—the ancient Egyptians apparently used it as a treatment for eye irritation, and it’s been widely used in India to heal skin and digestive ailments.
So what makes this substance so special? It’s considered a fatty acid, but almost 90% of its “fatty acid content” is made up of a scarce (and important) compound called ricinoleic acid that is a result of cold-pressing the seeds of the plant. It’s because of this unique compound that the oil is so helpful in treating various illness and ailments (and used in their prevention as well). Below, find the top six castor oil uses you should make yourself familiar with. It’s time to learn about this cure-all.
HELPS IMMUNE FUNCTION
It seems parents weren’t wrong in giving their children castor oil since it’s believed to improve blood flow and lymphatic drainage, among other immune system processes. A 2010 study found that those who used abdominal castor packs (aka cloth dipped in castor oil and placed on the abdomen with a source of heat) had higher levels of lymphocytes, or “disease fighters” that ward off toxins and other harmful bacteria.
BOOSTS HAIR GROWTH
If you have difficulty with hair growth and thickness, then castor oil may work for you. Warm some up, and rub it into your scalp and strands; it will help improve circulation in your hair follicles, which promotes hair growth. Need another reason to use it? It also boasts omega-6 fatty acids that will make your mane super shiny.
AIDS IN DIGESTIVE PROCESSES
We’ve already discussed castor oil packs (see above), but they’re also used to help the digestive system, primarily with constipation. In one study, the usage of castor oil packs on elderly patients was effective within three days, while 80% of these individuals had been seeking relief from constipation for more than 10 years. And furthermore, scientists believe that this process, which helps eradicate the digestive system of toxins, can also help fight depression and its symptoms.
This was a new insight, even for us: Apparently, castor oil is revered as a natural remedy to induce labor. For reportedly more than centuries, full-term pregnant women have taken castor oil by mouth to bring on contractions in the uterus. The reasoning behind this is that the ricinoleic acid triggers EP3 prostanoid receptors in the uterus, which helps with contraction in smooth muscles. One reason it’s not frequently used in hospitals is because some women have reported that the oil makes them feel nauseated.
Castor oil treats many types of skin ailments, ranging from acne to sunburn to irritation of all types. When it comes to blemishes and acne, the oil goes deep down into the skin to fight the bacteria that leads to clogged pores. As it does this, it also monitors hormone imbalances and bacteria in the gut that lead to acne. We must note that while it penetrates the bacteria, the oil itself is soothing to the skin (all you need to do is put some on a cotton swab and dab it onto the affected area). For sunburns, mix castor oil with coconut oil and put on the burns for an instant calming affect.
TREATS SYMPTOMS OF ARTHRITIS
When it comes to castor oil uses, it’s also respected for mitigating the symptoms of arthritis—it all goes back to the oil’s anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists say it can be used like a massage oil to help with inflammation, joint swelling, and pain. Additionally, a 2009 study found that a combination of orally administered castor oil and hot water packs were effective in treating knee osteoarthritis in patients.
Up next, how to kick-start healthy eating habits.