This ancient remedy is explored by Dr Todd Born ND, in terms of its clinical application and the slowly expanding body of published data on its effects on human physiology and biology.
Therapeutic Benefits of Castor Oil:
For many centuries folk lore medicine has recommended the use of castor oil, either orally or trans-dermally for a wide range of complaints. Naturopaths and other practitioners continue to utilize its therapeutic potential for the management of the health of their clients and patients.
When confronted with the request for topical application by their health care provider many people will baulk and wonder why they should cover parts of their torso with the sticky oil – whilst blandishments may placate many, I felt that a dive into the literature to see what was currently understood about its purported mechanisms of action there were and how we might translate that alongside our therapeutic considerations.
Castor oil has many potential uses but the most common reasons for considering its application are:
- Gas and bloating
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Skin tonification
Components of Castor Oil:
Castor oil is made from the plant Ricinuscommunis (castor bean). It has been used since ancient Egyptian times internally as a cathartic (stimulating laxative) and to induce labour. Topically, it has been used as a wound healer, anti-inflammatory agent, detoxifier, immune-modulator and has been found helpful in gastrointestinal complaints.
The precise mechanisms of action for this remarkable plant have not been fully elucidated. Most of the traditional uses come from folk medicines and word of mouth in certain traditions around the world.
What is known is the main component is considered to be ricinoleic acid (RA), which exert analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. Pharmacological characterization has shown similarities between the effects of RA and those of capsaicin, suggesting a potential interaction of this drug on sensory neuropeptide-mediated neurogenic inflammation. It is thought to be effective in constipation via ricinoleic acid (RA), which constitutes 90% of castor oil, can bind to VR1 receptors and according to the literature acts to reduce straining.
Members of the vanilloid receptor family (TRPV) are activated by a diverse range of stimuli, including heat, protons, lipids, phorbols, phosphorylation, changes in extracellular osmolarity and/or pressure, and depletion of intracellular Ca2+ stores. However, VR1 remains the only channel activated by vanilloids such as capsaicin. These channels are excellent molecular candidates to fulfil a range of sensory and/or cellular roles that are well characterized physiologically. Furthermore, as novel pharmacological targets, the vanilloid receptors have potential for the development of many future disease treatments.
Castor Oil impact on T-cells and Immunity:
Leading theory of how it positively affects the immune system is via T-cells in the skin and augmentation of prostaglandins. The T-11 cell increase represents a general boost in the body’s specific defense status. Lymphocytes actively defend the health of the body by forming antibodies against pathogens and their toxins. T-cell lymphocytes originate from bone marrow and the thymus gland as small lymphocytes that identify and kill viruses, fungi, bacteria, and cancer cells. T-11 cell lymphocytes supply a fundamental antibody capability to keep the specific defense system strong. The skin T-cell theory postulates that the absorption of castor oil into the skin triggers T-lymphocytes embedded in the skin, causing them to activate a local and/or generalized immune reaction.
A well written and referenced review by Drs. Kennedy and Keaton, go into further detail in their April 2012 article titled, Evidence for the Topical Application of Castor Oil. Here they refer to a study in which 17 patients with fatigue were enrolled in a trial and “during the course of treatment, the mean total lymphocyte counts normalized within the group and were lower at the end of treatment vs. baseline. As an unexpected outcome, 2 participants with elevated liver enzymes and cholesterol levels normalized these variables by the end of the study.” Bit of an NAFLD link here?
It is known that transdermal absorption occurs, given that castor oil is fat soluble, but the exact biochemical pathway is not understood.
As this review has indicated, castor oil is of potentially high therapeutic value, with low odour, low side effect, low risk profile that is highly underutilized in today’s modern medical world.
The level of evidence for applicability from some of the published basis is weak, but what does exist suggests numerous explanations and extremely low risk to the individual applying the treatment. I personally have prescribed this to hundreds of patients for all of the reasons discussed in this article and have found profound therapeutic benefit in all capacities.
Pure castor oil is very, good. Good for hair growth, dark hair n eyebrows. Also good for smooth bowel movement My mother used castor oil for some food preparation. Viscosity of thus oil is too much, some ither oil like olive, coconut, sesame oil can b added while using for hair massage. Use 60% castor oil with 40% of any oil according to the volume of hair Apply it on eyebrows every night, it helos dark, thick hair growth It is said sme get mild cold aftr applying , bt bcomes alright Check it if u r very sensitive For internal use, when we were young my mother used to give 2tsp of oil wtk half a cup of warm water or milk. Bt I used to tk it directly, so I dont hv to gulp half a cup,. I used to rake once in a week. Or once in 10 days. My cousin had a severe constipation problem n he was given 2 rsp of oil wt banana. I frgot the frequency. U can slightly warm d oil before use. Some times when we gave stomack oain due to heat or gas my mom used apply warm castor oil around ths naval. In d villages of south India people use this oil in many other ways I remember only what my mom used for us. U hv to check b4 u use it. U can ask ur doctor or ayurvedic or siddha medical oractioner Must get a pure oil.
I remember taking castor oil when I was a kid.... Ewwwww!! It does have wonderful benefits, but ewwww!
My mum and granny used to give us castor oil to "clean" our system. And boy did we run to the loo (a couple of times!) soon after drinking it. It really worked. Hated the taste and smell though!
Grade 3. We took a spoon to school. All the kids got a spoonful. Had to swallow and open our mouths to show we had.We also got a bottle of milk. A pint? Before milk was pasteurized. The cream would rise to the top...
I'm totally convinced of the castor oil's effective role in detoxing organs (liver) and tissues. I wish I would be more consequent in using it.