A popular home remedy, castor oil is making a comeback. Although traditionally used to alleviate constipation and stimulate labor in pregnant women, castor oil is now being used for its many other potential health benefits. Castor oil uses go far beyond traditional applications, including beauty treatments, lubricating everything from the kitchen scissors to bicycle pumps, and even pest control. Everyone should have a bottle of castor oil in their cupboards at home, you never know when it might come in handy!
1. Hair and Skin Health
Castor oil benefits cover many home beauty routines. For example, did you know that castor oil stimulates hair growth? Slowly rub a small heated amount of oil into the roots of your hair (or even your eye brows). Be careful that it isn’t overly hot, just warm to the touch. This warm oil is thought to stimulate circulation, which then triggers hair growth. There is also some suggestion that when applied to cases of alopecia, an autoimmune disorder, the anti-inflammatory properties of castor oil can reverse hair loss.
If you apply small amounts to split or damaged hair it can help it recover. It’ll strengthen your hair to avoid further breakage as well. Suffering from dry and itchy scalp? Again, castor oil to the rescue! Use as a hot oil scalp massage, and instantly feel relief. It will alleviate the persistent itchiness and reduce dandruff.
2. Soothes Joint and Muscle Pain
Long used by homeopaths and within traditional medicines, castor oil targets inflammation when applied topically. Castor oil contains roughly 90% ricinoleic acid, which has both anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Castor oil, even when applied topically, is able to penetrate deep into the tissues and loosen up any toxins, wastes and other clogging substances trapped within your lymphatic system. For people suffering from arthritis, try mixing cayenne pepper with castor oil, warming it up gently between the palms and massaging it into the joints. This is a great way to relieve pain.
Castor oil also makes an excellent massage oil. Although it can be a bit sticky, so a little goes a very long way when used for massages. It’s also easier to work with when warmed, as warming makes it less viscous. Once warmed up, and worked into the skin, the stickiness disappears as it’s able to be deeply absorbed into the skin and into the muscles.
3. Treats Colic in Babies
Colic in babies is an extremely difficult period of time for both parents and newborns. There is no cure, and no known specific cause but there are some theories – mainly around issues with gas and bloating as their digestive tract is still in development when so young. Because colic is so hard to manage, there are many home remedies mothers have developed over the course of history to help soothe newborns who suffer from it. One such remedy is castor oil. When a small amount is rubbed on their abdomen it soothes their colic and helps put them to sleep without unnecessary disruption.
4. Natural Sleep Aid
Just as with small babies, castor oil works as a natural sleep aid for adults as well. By rubbing small amounts on your eyelids, or onto your temples before bed, easily soothe yourself into a deep night’s sleep. Even if you can fall asleep easily, but seem to toss and turn all night without ever waking up feeling fully rested, castor oil can help. It also helps people who have difficulty falling asleep initially. What’s important is that for people who seem to never get a full seven hours of rest, or have difficulty maintaining a healthy sleep cycle during the night, castor oil is a great natural and safe sleep aid. Get a good night’s rest without resorting to potentially addictive sleeping pills.
5. Pest Control
A final great tip for using castor oil around the home is its use for garden pest control, aimed towards furry creatures. In the spring and summer months, gardens become infested with burrowing creatures such as moles, voles, skunks, racoons, and rats. These creatures, while pretty cute, can also wreak havoc on a perfectly manicured lawn, or in a bed of roses. A natural and safe alternative to other pest control methods, castor oil is also cheap and easy to apply. Mix one part dish soap to two parts castor oil until frothy. The rate of application is 2 tablespoons per gallon of water, and can be used within a normal fertilizer sprayer for even applications. When applied a few times during the week, this oil should keep the critters away without resorting to harsh chemicals or kill traps.
When trying any herbal remedy for the first time, it is important to always be on the lookout for possible side effects. If you are using castor oil topically, always test a small patch of skin to check for allergies. If taking orally, start with the very minimal dosage. This is especially true when using castor oil to treat constipation because if you take too much at once, you can be left literally running for the washroom. If prolonged, an overdose of castor oil can lead to dehydration and serious intestinal issues. If you are already suffering from internal bleeding issues, or ulcers, medical professionals recommend you stay away from castor oil treatments altogether.
If you are pregnant, or trying to become pregnant, it is highly recommended to stop taking castor oil. This is because it can trigger abdominal cramping (that’s why it’s great for constipation) but these cramps can also trigger ureteral contractions as well. The side effects for pregnant women are so serious in fact that it could lead to miscarriage or premature birth.