The Many Uses of Castor Oil
Health and wellness are big marketing buzz words, and are usually attached to some expensive new potion or serum that promises youth, vitality, and miracle cures. But there’s an “old fashioned” product that has been getting some attention lately, and if you’ve been in our office, you’ll probably have heard us recommend it: Castor Oil.
Castor oil is a vegetable oil pressed from the seeds of the Castor bean plant (Ricinus communis), also known as Palma Christi or Palm of Christ. Despite having the word “bean” in its name, the Castor plant produces seeds, not actual legumes. The raw seeds are highly poisonous and are the source of the poison ricin, though there is no toxicity in the oil that is pressed from the seeds. Because of its viscosity (thickness) and unique chemical make-up, the oil has been used in many ways; as a motor lubricant in airplanes and race cars, as an industrial oil, manufacturing preservative, food additive, laxative and home health product.
How Can I Use Castor Oil at Home?
Many people find that Castor Oil is extremely effective when dealing with scar tissue, both at the surface of the skin, as well as internally. Anecdotal evidence shows that the oil can soften and lighten keloid scars or lumpy/misshapen scars over time, as well as decrease symptoms of internal scars from surgery or endometriosis.
Castor Oil is well known as a laxative when taken internally, but it is also effective when applied externally to the abdomen, and can be used on both adults and children without the risk of dehydration from the copious laxative effect that internal use can cause. People with chronic constipation often find that regular application of Castor Oil to their abdomen helps to keep them “regular” without the use of bowel stimulants.
Castor Oil is also helpful when dealing with skin irritation, rashes, acne and other superficial skin issues. Many people find that Castor Oil helps relieve ingrown hairs from shaving, and it helps to draw out skin infections such as deep cystic acne or boils.
Women often find particular relief when using Castor Oil, as it has been anecdotally shown to reduce menstrual cramps, pelvic pain, Interstitial Cystitis symptoms, low back ache, and reduce or help clear blocked milk ducts during breastfeeding.
What do I do With Castor Oil?
Just rub it on your skin! The easiest way to incorporate Castor Oil into your daily routine is to leave a small bottle in your bathroom and just dab on a bit wherever you think you might need it. Use a small amount at first! The oil is quite thick and sticky, and some people don’t like the way it feels on the skin. Small amounts (like the size of a dime) are good to start. Add more if necessary. You can also mix Castor Oil with another vegetable oil such as Coconut Oil or Jojoba to improve the texture, too.
A Castor Oil pack is useful when you want to really increase the benefits of the oil, and is easy to prepare at home.
You will need:
- A doubled piece of cotton or wool flannel, about the size of your abdomen (baby receiving blankets cut to size are great, and a very soft washcloth can be used in a pinch)
- a large zip-top bag
- Castor Oil
- plastic wrap
- heating pad or hot water bottle
- small towel or blanket.
Place the fabric in the zip-top bag, and saturate with the oil. The fabric should be completely saturated but not dripping. Remove the fabric and place on abdomen or anywhere else you’d like to use the pack. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap that is slightly larger than your pack, to keep the pack in place and prevent dripping oil from staining your clothes or furniture. Cover plastic wrap with small towel or blanket, and place heating pad on top. Sit and relax for 20-30 minutes, but do not fall asleep with Castor Pack on your body!
Castor Packs are a single-person item, so don’t use on multiple family members. They can be stored in their bag or in a glass jar at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Give your Castor Pack a sniff before using; since it is a natural vegetable oil that is being exposed to heat, it will go rancid over time. If this happens, throw away the fabric and make a new pack, do NOT try to wash the fabric in the washing machine. If you don’t want to make your own Castor Pack, we have packs available for purchase at the office! You can purchase an entire premade pack (with oil), or just the fabric (without oil) for your home use.
What Kind of Castor Oil is Best?
Most commonly available Castor Oils are of very high quality, and it isn’t necessary to pay extra for oil that is branded “organic”. Look for cold-pressed oil, and you should be fine. In the office we typically use Home Health or The Heritage Store brands, and both are equally effective, as well as easily available in many drugstores, health food stores and online.
What other ways have you used Castor Oil?