Research on castor oil benefits is only now catching up with the knowledge of our ancestors. Explore some of the most surprising uses with BeWellBuzz!
Castor oil, an age old remedy, is experiencing a renaissance! This well-known oil is being found to have many previously unknown health benefits. However, if you have never heard of castor oil before, it is not surprising since it fell out of fashion as a home remedy in the last few decades – but grandmothers everywhere will have vivid memories of using it for many home remedies.
Castor Oil is a light yellow oil extracted from the castor seed, Ricinus communis. Unlike other seeds, it has high concentrations of fatty acids, primarily composed of ricinoleic acid. It is used as an oily ingredient in cosmetics, as a food additive, and as an industrial lubricating agent. Beyond these pretty unappealing commercial uses, castor oil has been used for centuries as a medicine, particularly used to treat constipation and ease a hard labor.
Considering both these traditional uses, it should be mentioned that there are some side effects to use of castor oil. Firstly, it can cause gastrointestinal distress, especially in people already suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, prolapses, cramping and recent surgeries. When the oil is absorbed by the intestine, is broken down into ricinoleic acid, which is a natural irritant. In most people, it will act as a laxative, however it can lead to more severe side effects in those who are prone to digestive issues.
Castor oil is still a powerful home remedy for many ailments – it is anti-fungal, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic; just to name a few benefits. Like many medicines used in folklore, research on the medicinal uses of castor oil is only now catching up with the knowledge of our ancestors. Some of the most surprising and beneficial uses are detailed below, including specific topical and internal applications.
So let’s take a closer look at 7 powerful home remedies.
1. Immune System Booster
When used in a castor oil pack, the phytonutrients within castor oil soak deep into your lymphatic system. They encourage lymphatic drainage and purge the intestinal system of toxins, including cleansing the kidney and liver. When ingested, castor oil also promotes white blood cell production. Both these benefits boost your immune system and in the case of castor packs used on tumors, have been found to reduce the size of tumors.
2. Menstrual Cramping
When used in a pack, castor oil can provide relief to sufferers of severe menstrual cramping. It is recommended to apply a pack to the lower abdomen (where the cramping is typically strongest) during your cycle. If you usually suffer from strong cramping during your period, you can also preemptively apply the pack 1-2 days before your expected start date.
3. Wrinkle Reduction
Castor oil can be used as a gentle treatment for fine lines and wrinkles. It naturally stimulates the skin into collagen and elastin production, which are responsible for smooth and younger looking skin. Castor oil is easily absorbed by the skin when applied topically, and a little goes a long way!
4. Skin Issues
The full list of skin problems that have been successfully studied for treatment with castor oil needs a full article in itself! In brief, it can be used to treat warts, sunburns, liver spots, boils, acne, athlete’s foot and chronically inflamed skin – just to name a few. In most cases it can simply be applied topically, either through gentle application with a cotton ball, through a larger soaked pack applied overnight, or simply dipping a band aid in castor oil. Because castor oil has been proven as an effective antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory – its possible uses for skin issues are unlimited!
5. Arthritis Treatment
Due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, castor oil packs can be a potent tool to treat the pain and swelling of joints associated with arthritis. Alternately a small warmed amount can be massaged into the joints. Either application will help relieve pain and increase circulation to the area. Many apply before bed to help alleviate nighttime aches and pains.
6. Hair Growth
Regular treatment of castor oil, through hot oil massages on the scalp, have been proven to stimulate hair regrowth. Not only does it moisturize your hair and skin, but helps remove any buildup of toxic chemicals, and bacteria. It also stimulates the production of keratin, which is essential to hair growth.
7. Symptoms of Food Allergies
When taken in small doses orally, castor oil can help reduce the effects of food allergies. A few drops into your morning smoothie on a daily basis will help soothe, regulate and lubricate your digestive tract, thereby alleviating the irritation associated with mild food allergies or sensitivities.
Word of caution:
lactating or pregnant women should not use castor oil, as it was traditionally used to ease labor and has more recently been linked to severe nausea with pregnant women.
How to Make your Own Castor Oil Pack
Castor oil packs are one of the most common applications for the treatment of many health ailments. It is a simple DIY tool to add to your first aid repertoire.
Use organic cotton or flannel, folded into the appropriate size for where you want to apply it.
Soak in castor oil to a point where it is wet but not dripping.
Place on the body part you wish to treat, and hold the pack in place with a body wrap (or plastic wrap will work).
Place a heating pad, or hot water bottle on the pack and leave in place for 60 minutes. Some applications, as with arthritis, can be left overnight.