Castor seed oil, a triglyceride made up of fatty acids like ricinoleic acid is obtained from the seeds of the castor oil plant, which is scientifically known as Ricinus communis. It is very popular as a remedy for treating a wide range of health conditions. Most of its healing properties are attributed to the presence of ricinoleic acid. Although castor seed plant has its origins in India, Eastern Africa and Southeastern Mediterranean Basin, it is now widely cultivated in many other parts of the world, especially the tropical regions.
Castor seeds have been found in Egyptian tombs and pyramids. It has been traditionally used as burning oil, body and hair oil. Use of castor bean oil or erandi/erranda oil goes back 4000 years ago. It is long used in various traditional medicinal forms including ayurveda. In china it has been used for dressing wounds. In Brazil, castor oil or mamona oil is used as biodiesel. In Mexico it is called Grilla seed. It is used in manufacture of soaps, cosmetics and cocoa butter.
Nutritional value of castor seed oil
Castor seed oil is colorless oil that has a mild odor and taste. It is a rich source of ricinoleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fatty acid. Castor oil also contains moderate amounts of other fatty acids like oleic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid. Other compounds found in this oil include enzymes, glucides, protein, mineral salts and vitamin E. The seed from which castor oil is made also contains a toxin called ricin, which if ingested can be deadly. However, castor seed oil is perfectly safe, and is even used for many medicinal purposes.
Health Benefits of Castor Seed Oil
Castor seed oil has been used since ancient times for curing a variety of ailments. The high amount of ricinoleic acid is considered to be the reason behind the medicinal properties of this amazing oil. Some of the popular health benefits of castor seed oil are given below.
Castor seed oil enhances your immune system
Castor seed oil is considered to be a powerful immune booster. It has been scientifically proven that the use of castor oil packs increases the production of lymphocytes and increases the activity of a type of white blood cells called T-lymphocytes. This helps in the increased production of antibodies that help in destroying the disease causing microbes and in improving your immunity.
Castor seed oil as a remedy for constipation
Castor seed oil acts as a natural laxative that helps in stimulating peristalsis or the contraction of the muscles of your intestine. Peristalsis helps in the easy removal of the fecal matter from the intestine. Castor seed oil also helps in lubricating your bowels and in reducing the absorption of moisture from the intestinal tract. This increases the fluid content in the bowel, ensuring easy expulsion of stool, thus providing relief from constipation. Castor seed oil is usually taken orally to treat constipation. Although it is an effective remedy for constipation, make sure not to use it regularly because prolonged use of castor seed oil can lead to undesirable health consequences.
Castor seed oil for joint pain and arthritis
Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints in one or more parts of the body that can cause severe pain in the joints together with stiffness and swelling. One of the several benefits of castor seed oil is that it is effectively used in the treatment of arthritis. Massaging castor seed oil or applying a warm castor oil pack on the affected area can help in increasing blood circulation, reducing inflammation and in relieving pain.
Castor seed oil for treating ringworm and other fungal infections
Ringworm infection is a common skin infection caused by fungus. Castor seed oil contains an unsaturated fatty acid called undecylenic acid that shows antifungal effects. As such, it is an active ingredient in many antifungal medications used for treating fungal infections like ringworm, athlete’s foot, etc. Applying castor seed oil on these kinds of infections can therefore help in curing it and also in providing relieve from itching, irritation and burning.
Castor seed oil for neurological disorders
Castor seed oil is used as an alternative treatment for many neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and Parkinson’s disease. Patients suffering from these conditions, when treated with castor seed oil have in fact shown considerable improvement in their condition.
Castor seed oil for relieving headaches and migraines
Castor seed oil pack is an excellent remedy for treating various kinds of pains. People suffering from migraines should consider applying the castor oil pack. It helps in providing relief from pain by increasing the blood circulation and by reducing inflammation.
Eye benefits provided by castor seed oil
Dry eyes are a common condition that affects the eyes. It left untreated, it can be uncomfortable and cause damage to your cornea. Castor seed oil has been found to be a great remedy for dry eyes. It helps in moisturizing the eyes and also in reducing inflammation. Blepharitis is a condition that causes inflammation around the eyelids. The anti-inflammatory properties of castor seed oil can help in treating this condition and also other eye infections like stye. Some people apply castor seed oil on their eyelashes as it helps in promoting growth of thick eyelashes.
Castor seed oil for weight loss
Although not recommended for long term use, castor seed oil can help in losing weight. Being a laxative, the intake of this oil can aid in losing a few pounds. Since the consumption of too much of castor seed oil can cause adverse effects, always seek the advice of your health consultant or dietician before using it as a weight loss solution.
Castor seed oil for healthy and glowing skin
Castor seed oil is rich in fatty acids that make it an excellent moisturizer. Applying a little amount of this oil can help in hydrating your skin and in removing dry patches. Castor seed oil is helpful in eradicating different skin problems. It helps in reducing acne, sunburn, dry skin, etc. It is also useful in getting rid of skin infections like athlete’s foot, warts, itching and ringworm. Castor seed oil can hydrate your skin and make it smooth by penetrating deep into the pores and stimulating the production of elastin and collagen. Application of this oil helps in rejuvenating and refreshing your skin, giving it a youthful and glowing appearance.
Castor seed oil is also useful in reducing age related skin problems like fine lines and wrinkles. Acne is a common problem that worries many people, especially teenagers. Castor seed oil is considered to be an excellent remedy for acne as it is a rich source of ricinoleic acid, which helps in fighting off the bacteria that cause acne. Prolonged use of this oil on the skin and repair the tissues and eliminate scar and marks, making your skin soft, smooth and beautiful.
Castor seed oil for healthy hair
Castor seed oil is also a great solution for many hair problems. Hair loss is a common problem that daunts men and women alike. Castor seed oil is widely used for treating hair related problems. It is a rich source of Ricinoleic acid, which is popular for its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Ricinoleic acid, along with omega- 9 fatty acids nourishes your scalp and eliminates bacterial or fungal infections that may cause loss of hair. Continuous application of castor seed oil not only nourishes your scalp and hair follicles, but also improves blood circulation, promoting the growth of healthy and lustrous hair. The anti-microbial properties of castor seed oil are also helpful in protecting your skin from infections and in providing relief from itchy, flaky and dry skin.
Castor seed oil is high in many nutrients like vitamin E, and omega fatty acids that are essential for maintaining proper health of your hair. These nutrients provide strength to your hair and help in preventing breakage and split ends. Apart from strengthening your hair, castor seed oil can also promote thick growth of hair, which is why it is used by many people as a remedy for thinning of hair. Many people even use castor oil to obtain thicker eyelashes and eyebrows.
Side effects of castor seed oil
Castor seed oil may cause certain side effects, some mild and some serious. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and weakness are some of the problems experienced by people after consuming castor oil. It is important to consult a doctor if these effects do not subside and become worse. Some of the serious side effects of castor oil consumption that requires medical intervention include weakness, muscle cramps, persistent diarrhea, vomiting or nausea, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, confusion and decreased urination. Some people may experience allergic reactions which include dizziness, skin rash, breathing difficulty, and itching or swelling of the face, tongue or throat. In such cases also, immediate medical attention should be sought for.
When you are buying castor seed oil, make sure to choose the brands that are available at your health food store. This is because castor seed oil that is sold at a supermarket or elsewhere may be intended for industrial purposes and hence may not be safe for consumption. Although moderate consumption of castor seed oil is considered safe, it can be dangerous when consumed in excess amounts. As mentioned earlier, too much of this oil is likely to cause certain side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Pregnant or breastfeeding women and people with severe intestinal problems are recommended not to use castor seed oil. Drinking castor oil is considered natural way to induce labor in many places. Hence care should be taken while consumption of castor oil by pregnant women.
Before resorting to any kind of natural remedies, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor in order to avoid other complications.Image Credits: Flickr - Mark Birkle