The castor oil seed has a very unique chemical composition. The seed plant is native to India and 90% of its composition is ricinolete acid. This is a fatty acid that is thought to be responsible for castor oil’s healing properties. In Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, Persia and 17th Century Europe and the Americas, it was used for medical reasons.
There are many uses for castor oil besides medical such as food additive, flavoring agent, mold inhibitor, ingredient in skin care products and cosmetics, used in the manufacturing of plastics, rubbers, synthetic resins, fibers, paints, varnishes, lubricants, sealants, dyes and leather treatments. In WWI it was used as an aircraft lubricant.
Besides being used in the industrialized world, were you aware that castor seeds could be deadly? The toxin ricin is made from a protein in the castor seed and if ingested, gets into the ribosomes of your cells where it prevents protein synthesis that kills the cells. Mash that is left over after processing castor seeds into oil, makes the ricin. Just 1 milligram of ricin is fatal if inhaled or ingested and eating just 5 to 10 seeds would be fatal.
There are modern medical uses for castor oil like topical applications for a variety of skin conditions like keratosis, dermatosis, wound healing, acne, ringworm, warts, other skin infections, sebaceous cysts, itching and hair loss. More importantly it shows some promise in treatment of cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that early clinical trials suggest that ricin, when combined with an antibody to confine this poison to malignant cells, will shrink tumors in lymphoma patients.
Castor oil has also been used to treat multiple sclerosis, arthritis, epilepsy, appendicitis, colitis, Parkinson’s Disease, Migraine and other headaches, liver ailments, cirrhosis, AIDs, eye irritation, cerebral palsy, cholecystitis, scleroderma, detoxification and gynecological problems.
Castor oil can be used as topical massage oil and the castor oil packs can improve the function of your thymus gland and other components of your immune system.
Some side effects, such as taking orally, may alleviate constipation but can irritate your intestinal lining causing digestive discomfort, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal side effects. If you have cramps, irritable bowel, ulcers, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, colitis, prolapses, or have recently had surgery, you should avoid castor oil due to the adverse effects. It has been known to stimulate labor in healthy pregnant women and there have been reports of it causing nausea.
–Dr Fredda Branyon