Castor plant leaves, roots and seeds are all prized medicinally, however, it is the oil from the seed that is considered to be superior.
The castor plant is a native of Africa and grows all over India as a small perennial shrub. There are red and white varieties and it is the white variety that is valued medicinally. The seeds can be found within characteristically spikey, green, pod like fruits that contain around 3 seeds per pod. The whole seed is considered toxic when eaten whole due to the toxicity of the protein ricin. However, the ricin is denatured after pressing the seeds to extract the oil, rendering castor oils harmless.
All around the world the actions of traditional medicines were understood by their immediate sensory impacts. Click on each of castor’s key qualities below to learn more:
Castor oil works as an osmotic laxative and will penetrate the intestines and hold water within them, influencing a total cleansing effect. Castor oil is very effective at penetrating all tissues to a deep level and removing stubborn fluid accumulations that may have taken the form of cysts, lumps or just generalised inflammation.
Castor oil is warm, lubricating and emolliating. It is ideal for any form of congestion and irritating dryness. Consequently, castor oil can be incredibly beneficial for all forms of internal congestion manifesting in the joints, digestion, skin and reproductive systems. It will aid in the removal of any toxic congestion, whilst also moistening and soothing any dry or inflamed tissues that manifested as a result of such built up toxicity.
In mild to moderate constipation castor oil acts as an osmotic laxative. Its effect is very dose dependant and can range from cathartic to aperient. As an emollient it lubricates any dryness and improves the peristaltic movement within the intestines. It can be effectively used in the form of an external castor oil pack.
Castor oil applied externally in the form of a pack on areas of arthritic inflammation can help draw out any excess fluid accumulations that may be influencing pain, swelling and even deformation of the joints. Traditionally, the oil has also been used to help reduce areas of paralysis aggravated by congestion.
Castor oil packs applied over lumps, tumours and/or cysts, will aid in clearing any excessive accumulations that may be aggravating the affected area or organ.
The oil in its neat form can be used to treat styes, conjunctivitis and foreign objects in the eyes through clearing any toxic accumulations.
The oil is considered beneficial as an external application for warts and fungal infections of the skin and nails as it will help to draw out any underlying toxins. Pure, unheated castor oil will also lubricate and emolliate any dry and irritated skin conditions, providing a degree of relief for conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
In Ayurvedic traditions, castor oil was applied externally to the scalp, eyebrows and eyelashes in order to promote hair growth.
No drug-herb interactions are currently known.
Traditional Ayurvedic characteristics are
Castor oil is traditionally used in massage and/or applied as an external pack. Castor oil packs can be made by soaking a flannel in warmed castor oil, applying to the affected area and then covering yourself with a towel and hot water bottle for up to 20 minutes.