Castor oil is a vegetable pressed oil extracted from the plant Ricinus communis, a native to African and Asian countries. The leaves of this castor bean plant resemble the palm of Christ, thus earning it another popularly colloquial name ‘Palma Christe.’
Castor oil is a nonvolatile fatty oil obtained from the seeds of castor bean plant (Ricinus communis) which belongs to the flowering family Euphorbiaceae. Castor oil is known as vilaakenni in Tamil, Arandi tel in Hindi and Amudamu in Telugu.
It contains a harmful enzyme called ricin, but the process of heating castor oil deactivates it, making the oil safe for use. Castor oil is a translucent liquid with a pale-yellow colour which has a unique taste and odor with a high boiling point and density.
Castor oil and its by-products are used widely in the production of soaps, lubricants, hydraulic, paints, inks, cold-resistant plastic, waxes, nylon and perfume. Castor oil has a broad spectrum of medicinal, industrial and pharmaceutical benefits. It is used extensively as an additive in the food industry, skincare essentials, industrial lubricant and biodiesel fuel component.
As per the study published by the International Journal of Toxicology, castor oil is used extensively in more than 700 cosmetic products. Castor oil also comprises certain beneficial salts and esters which works as skin-conditioning agents. Castor oil has always been an integral part of home remedies while treating common skin issues like pigmentation and DIY beauty care products.
Castor oil comprises a host of beneficial components including Omega 3 fatty acids, ricinoleic acid, flavonoids, Vitamin E, phenolic acids, amino acids, terpenoids and phytosterols. Castor oil is broken down in to ricinoleic acid in gut which promotes the digestion process. The ricinoleic acid is absorbed well within the skin layers and aids in maintaining healthy skin flora. Castor oil is used extensively in treating various skin disorders including dermatitis, psoriasis and acne.
Uses Of Castor Oil In Ayurveda
Castor oil is praised as a Master in Ayurvedic medicine for its potential in healing alopecia, wrinkles, ovarian cysts, constipation, piles, asthma and arthritis to mention a few. It is known as Gandharvahasta or Eranda taila in Ayurveda and the plethora of natural compounds in castor oil confer healing health benefits which are used widely in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.
As per the Ayurveda castor oil possess sweet, pungent, and astringent tastes. It cools the body when applied externally. The sweetness offers nourishment, while the pungent and astringent quality flushes out salts and toxins from the system. The cooling property aids in lessening pita and skin irritations like prickly heat.
The chief ingredients of castor oil are ricinoleic acid (85-90%), oleic acid, stearic acid, palmitic acid, linoleic acid and dihydroxy stearic acid. The strong anti inflammatory, anti infectious, antirheumatic, fungicidal, laxative, immune boosting, anti-viral, labor inducing, anti-allergic, antiaging and analgesic properties are valued as a great remedial quality of pure castor oil in Ayurvedic medicine.
Evidence shows that castor beans were used in Egyptian tombs dating back to 4000 BC. Even Cleopatra used this amazing natural oil for brightening whites of the eyes and for dry eyes.
Effect On Doshas
Castor Oil, also known as Eranda Tailam in Ayurveda is sanctified with Tikta (i.e. bitter taste) and Madhura Rasa (i.e. sweet taste) and five potent Gunas or qualities including Guru (i.e. heavy), Ushna (i.e. hot), Sara (i.e. flowing), Balyam (i.e. strength promoter) and Visram Gunas (i.e. foul-smelling qualities). It intrinsically portrays Ushna Virya (i.e. hot potency) and Katu Vipaka (i.e. pungent metabolic taste). Being heavy and oily, it pacifies the Vata (air) doshas and Kapha (earth and water) doshas whereas an excess of it can aggravate the Pitta (fire and air) doshas.
Owing to the intrinsic properties and doshas, Eranda taila has a positive effect on the various Dhatus (i.e. body tissues) of the body including Rasa (i.e. Plasma), Rakta (i.e. Blood), Mamsa (i.e. Muscles), Asthi (i.e. Bones) and Shukra (i.e. Reproductive Fluids).
Since centuries, eranda taila has been used for its powerful therapeutic applications and hence it was mentioned time and again in several Puranic texts and ayurvedic scriptures. The holistic science of Ayurveda acknowledges this powerful oil for the following main indications which include; Vranahara (helps treat wounds), Shramahara (relieves tiredness), Krumihara (relieves worms), Sulaghnam (relieves pain), Anila Shodhanam (flushes morbid Vata), Rasayana (anti-ageing), Vardhamahara (cures hernia), Virechana (treats constipation), Gulmahara (treats abdominal tumors), Jwara hara (treats fevers), Kustha (treats skin disorders), Keshya (treats hair problems), Dahahara (relieves burning sensation), and Varnya (improves complexion).
Extraction Of Castor Oil
Castor oil is extracted from castor bean by mechanical pressing, solvent extraction or a combination of both pressing and extraction. The seeds are sun-dried for seven days to allow the hull to split open after which the husk is removed mechanically with the help of dehuller. The dried seeds are cleaned to remove impurities and heated to harden the interior of the seed suitable for extraction. Then the seeds are warmed in a steam-jacketed press to remove the moisture and this process will assist in oil extraction. The boiled seeds are dried again before the extraction process starts. A hydraulic press is used to crush the castor seeds which helps to extract oil.
Therapeutic Benefits Of Castor Oil
1. Natural Laxative
Castor oil is a highly valued as a natural laxative like cumin and aloe vera. The laxative properties of castor oil increase the movement of muscles which freely pushes bowel materials via the intestine and clears the waste. Castor oil when ingested, is broken down to ricinoleic acid in the small intestine and gets absorbed well.
Several studies have revealed that castor oil can treat constipation by reducing symptoms, lessen the strain during defecation and reduce the feeling of incomplete bowel movements. However, castor oil is safe for use in small doses, large amounts may cause abdominal cramps, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.
2. Supports Wound Healing
Castor oil when applied on wounds provides a moist environment that fosters healing and prevents sores from drying out. Many ointments used in clinical settings to heal wounds contains castor oil. Castor oil promotes tissue growth that creates a barrier between the wound and the environment, lowering the risk of infection. In addition, it also aids to lower the dryness, cornification and averts the building up of dead skin cells that may delay wound healing. Evidence strongly supports that ointment containing castor oil may be beneficial in healing pressure ulcers.
3. Anti-Inflammatory Effects
The goodness of ricinoleic acid the major fatty acid in castor oil exhibits powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Castor oil when applied topically supports in lowering inflammation and alleviates pain. The anti-inflammatory properties of castor oil may be specifically beneficial in treating inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, moisturizing properties of castor oil may be potent to ease dry and irritated skin issues in people with psoriasis.
4. Treats Acne
Acne or pimples is a common skin disorder affecting teens which result in blackheads, whiteheads and bumps on the face and back. Acne is caused when the skin becomes clogged with dead skin or bacteria. Castor oil possesses amazing medicinal properties that are beneficial in lowering acne symptoms. The potential antibacterial properties of castor oil battles bacterial overgrowth when applied topically and clear acne.
5. Battles Fungal Infection
Fungal infection caused due to candida albicans results in dental problems like plaque growth, gum infections and root canal infections. The strong antifungal properties of castor oil facilitate to ward off bacteria and maintain mouth fresh and healthy. It is also effective in treating denture associated stomatitis, a painful condition caused due to candida albicans from the infected tooth root. Moreover, brushing and soaking dentures in castor oil solution exhibited a remarkable reduction in Candida among elderly people using dentures.
6. Promotes Immunity
Castor oil is highly valued in traditional medicine for strengthening the immune system by increasing white blood cells. Evidence revealed that castor oil has the potential to boost the count of T11 cells and promote the secretion of lymphocytes in the blood within a few hours of use. Lymphocytes are the body natural disease-fighters which can bout toxins, bacteria, fungus, virus and other outside invaders and keep diseases at bay.
In addition, it also promotes lymphatic system drainage, improve blood flow, the health of thymus gland and triggers immune system functions. Studies reveal that castor oil serves as an essential detoxification ingredient and treating digestive problems.
7. Induces Labor
Castor oil is a highly praised natural remedy for inducing labor. Since ancient times, castor oil is highly recommended for the full-term pregnant women to speed up the contraction of the uterus. The fact behind it is ricinoleic acid in castor oil activates EP3 prostanoid receptor in the uterus which assists in inducing labor. Recent evidence reveals that the use of castor oil is linked with a higher probability of inducing labor within 24 hours after ingestion. Thus, castor oil can serve as a non-pharmacological method for labor induction. However, one aftermath of taking castor oil is that a few women may feel nauseated after consuming it.
8. Promotes Libido
Castor oil facilitates to balance the hormones by absorbing the fat molecules in the body. It enhances blood flow to the sexual organs aids in boosting the sexual drive and vitality. In addition, it can also alleviate the PMS symptoms, anxiety and mood swings.
9. Regulates Cycle
Ricinoleic acid in castor oil works as a natural emmenagogue and stimulates menstruation in case of a delayed cycle, eases pain and abdominal cramps during menstruation.
10. Eye Health
The strong anti-inflammatory properties of castor oil assist in improving cataracts, reduce dry eye and lower eye infections. It is also effective in reducing dark circles under the eyes.
The Benefits Of Castor Oil For Skin
Castor oil has been used since ancient times as a natural remedy to treat skin and hair related problems. It is an elixir for keeping mane lustrous and skin glowing. Enriched with vitamin E, omega fatty acids and proteins, castor oil helps prevent hair fall, premature greying of hair, battle irritated scalp problems and promotes hair growth. Be it tan, pigmentation, acne or ageing castor oil is the best fix for all.
1. Lessens Wrinkles
Castor oil acts as an amazing remedy for lessening wrinkles. It diffuses into the skin and stimulates the production of collagen which smoothens and hydrates the skin. Apply castor oil over the wrinkled area, let it stay overnight and rinse well. This can revamp the skin by making it look supple and radiant.
The potential anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties in castor oil assists in healing skin problem, shield the skin from bacterial infections and thwart off microbes causing skin issues.
The abundance of triglycerides in castor oil confers to maintain skin moisture and helps in treating dry skin. In addition, the humectant properties can retain the moisture by preventing the water loss and keep the skin well hydrated throughout the day.
The natural astringent properties of castor oil help in clearing off the impurities from the skin and it is suitable for cleansing oily skin too. The richness of essential fatty acids in castor oil facilitates in reinstating natural moisture balance of the skin. Gently apply castor oil on your face and massage in circular motions, allow it to stay overnight and wash off in the morning. This clears the clogged pores and heals acne.
4. Maintains Complexion
The richness of monosaturated fatty acids in castor oil makes the skin smooth and softer when applied as a facial oil. It can also stimulate the growth of healthy skin tissues and revamp the uneven skin tone thus enhancing the skin texture and complexion.
Castor oil has a very low comedogenic score, it lowers the risk of developing blackheads and has very less chance to clog pores in the skin, thus suitable for all types of sensitive skin.
To promote better absorption of castor oil into the skin always dilute castor oil in the ratio 1:1 with other agents like olive and coconut oil which allows castor oil to penetrate deep within the skin.
Castor Oil For Hair Health
1. Promotes Hair Growth
Castor oil is believed to be the best oil to boosts hair health. The goodness of ricinoleic acid and omega 6 fatty acids improves the blood circulation when messaged onto the scalp and promotes the growth of hair. Furthermore, it also hydrates and conditions the hair naturally.
1 tsp castor oil
1tsp coconut oil
½ tsp methi powder
How To Use
Mix castor oil with coconut oil and methi seed powder, apply it on the scalp, let it stay for 20 minutes and wash well. This hair pack can avert hair fall and makes the roots stronger, grow tresses faster and lustrous.
2. Clears Dandruff
The potential antifungal and antibacterial properties of castor oil facilitate to clear all types of dandruff and treat scalp infections.
2tsp castor oil
1 tsp lemon juice
How To Use
Blend castor oil with lemon juice, apply this mixture on the scalp of the hair, and allow it stay for 30 minutes and rinse well to ward off dandruff.
3. Treats Stye
The potent antibacterial properties of castor oil help in thwarting off stye. Apply a few drops of castor oil for three-four times in a day for best results.
Castor Leaves Benefits
The leaves of castor bean plant also confer with a wealth of healing benefits. Castor leaves paste when applied topically improves the milk secretion in lactating women. It works as a natural moisturizer, enhances the tone and complexion of the skin and smoothen the hair. Castor leaves juices are believed to provide instant relief from rheumatoid arthritis, headache, cellulite, edema and skin conditions like ringworm, psoriasis and warts.
How To Use:
Warm few castors leaves, place pack over the affected joints and bandage, leave it overnight. This can effectively offer relief from painful joints, stiffness and lowers inflammation.
Uses Of Castor Oil
Castor oil has a broad spectrum of uses in various ways – orally, applying externally on the skin, oil packs or massage oils or blended with different essential oils which are used widely in skincare regimen and treatment. Always choose brands that are of the highest quality, cold pressed, organic and pure castor oil is available in local departmental stores and online.
Side Effects And Precautions
Castor oil is classified by the Food and Drug Administration which is recognized safe for both external and internal use. Castor oil has been listed Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective (GRASE) by FDA (Food and Drug Administration USA as an over the counter laxative.
Sometimes skin breaks out when exposed to castor oil as the chemicals in castor oil make it harmful.
However, taking too much castor oil orally can elevate the risk and results in digestive issues like diarrhea, dehydration, cramping, nausea, irritation, gut issues, sore throat, chest pain and breathing difficult.
Pregnant women should not take it before consulting with a doctor to induce labor as castor oil falls into the X category list.
Castor oil serves as a natural remedy for treating various health conditions including constipation, fungal infections, eases arthritis pain and enhances skin and hair health. Thus, castor oil serves as a versatile ingredient and a must-have natural healer in every house.