Advertisement

Castor oil is valued for its medicinal qualities. Some claim Queen Cleopatra applied castor oil to her eyes to enhance their whiteness. In past generations, parents fed their children spoonfuls of the unpleasant liquid in the belief that it would relieve constipation and yield other health benefits. Like many natural remedies, while castor oil's powers may be overblown in some cases, there is no question this oil made from castor beans has many potential benefits.

Advertisement

A Natural Purgative

Relieving constipation is one of the better-known uses of castor oil. A dose of fifty grams of castor oil mixed into warm milk gets the waste moving through the colon and out of the body. The oil is rich in fatty acids and, as such, is not easily absorbed in the intestines and moves through quickly, bringing other waste with it. Too much castor oil can also be harmful, however, so it should be consumed in moderation. Anyone whose constipation does not resolve within a week should see a doctor.

Advertisement

Boosts the Immune System

The immune system defends the body against infection and disease. Weak immune systems elevate the risk of contracting serious illnesses and conditions. Diet, exercise, and genetic factors all play a role in the strength of one's immune system. Taking castor oil can help improve blood flow, encouraging the creation of the lymphocyte white blood cells that fight bacteria, and enhancing the health of the thymus gland, which produces T cells for the immune system.

Advertisement

Improves Sleep

Insomnia is nothing new, but the stressful and blue screen-heavy lives most of us lead today seem to have increased the prevalence of sleeping troubles. Many people turn to sleeping pills, but natural options may be safer, especially over longer periods. The consumption or topical application of castor oil may help with relaxation which can improve sleep.

Advertisement

Fights Fungal Infections

The undecylenic acid in castor oil helps block the development of fungal infections, and some health practitioners believe it can cure yeast infections and athletes foot. The oil also gets glowing reports for its ability to fend off ringworm. Nearly one in five people develop this skin condition at least once in their lives, and castor oil could be a way to stop the infection without incurring the potential side effects of prescription antifungals and antibiotics.

Advertisement

Eases Burns

We all know we should wear sunscreen when outdoors during the day, but we often forget. Castor oil could alleviate the effects of painful sunburn. It contains ricinoleic acid that can guard blistered skin against infection. It also reduces the inflammation caused by excess sun exposure.

Advertisement

Cosmetic Effects

Castor oil may improve complexion. As opposed to the ingredients in some store-bought topical treatments, which can dry out skin at the same time as spots, castor oil moisturizes the skin while cleansing it. Some people use it as a general cleaner to remove spots and dead skin. It is possible to be allergic to the oil, however, so anyone trying this method should test a small patch of skin on the inside of the elbow before full-scale application.

Advertisement

Aids in Childbirth

Though premature birth dangers are well-known, complications can develop when pregnancies go well past the due date, as well. Some women claim taking castor oil can stimulate the bowels and start contractions, which could prevent the need for more invasive or painful induction techniques. However, this method should not be undertaking without the knowledge and guidance of an obstetrician.

Advertisement

Eases Migraines

Castor oil could relieve the symptoms of migraines and severe headaches. Consuming a small amount of castor oil can incorporate the oil's anti-inflammatory benefits. Since migraines can link to gastrointestinal issues, detoxifying the gut with castor oil may help decrease migraine pain and frequency.

Advertisement

Reduce Hair Loss

The search for a cure for hair loss has occupied people for ages. Instead of seeking a solution in chemical-laden store-bought products, one might try castor oil as a cheap and potentially effective natural option. Applying castor oil to the roots of the hair on a regular basis can improve hair and scalp quality, and even encourage hair growth. The oil's vitamin E and omega-6 and-9 fatty acids, as well as ricinoleic acid, are to thank for this benefit.

Advertisement

Treats Arthritis

Some natural health practitioners claim castor oil could alleviate joint pain caused by arthritis. Once again, the anti-inflammatory properties of the oil supply this benefit, and animal and test-tube studies support the theory that ricinoleic acid can reduce pain and swelling (much as it does for sunburns) caused by rheumatoid arthritis cells. Both massaging the joints with castor oil and drinking a few teaspoons in warm water can have beneficial effects.

Advertisement

Reduce Stretch Marks

Castor oil may help to lessen the visibility of stretch marks thanks to its deeply moisturizing properties. One study shows that castor oil helps stretch marks fade over time because it keeps the skin from becoming too dry. For best results, apply castor oil on stretch marks morning and night by massaging into the skin.

pregnant woman damircudic / Getty Images
Advertisement

Wrinkles

Castor oil moisturizes the skin and may help with wrinkles. Studies show it's as effective as coconut oil in reducing or preventing the appearance of fine lines. Castor oil has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that fight free radicals and slow the aging process. It also has fatty acids that improve skin health.

hands with wrinkles Peter Finch / Getty Images
Advertisement

Corns/Calluses

Castor oil may help with treating corns and calluses. While there is little research on its efficacy, people have been using castor oil this way for centuries. The best method to treat corns and calluses is to mix castor oil with hot soapy water. Use a pumice stone on the corn and follow-up with hot water and a castor oil soak. This treatment will soothe the callus and help it heal.

foot with a callus Natalia Garidueva / Getty Images
Advertisement

Colic in Infants

Applying castor oil to a baby's skin may help with colic. While there is little research on castor oil for a colicky baby, moms have used it for centuries. For best results, heat a pot of water and warm a bottle of oil. Make sure it's not too hot and apply the oil in a clockwise direction, massaging into babies' skin. It works by relieving sore muscles. Castor oil may also help to induce labor, though it can cause nausea and diarrhea. One study shows women who use it to induce labor all experience an upset stomach.

mom with a crying baby miodrag ignjatovic / Getty Images
Advertisement

Asthma

A popular folk remedy for asthma involves a castor oil pack to cleanse the lungs. Homemade castor oil packs could draw toxins from the lungs and are an inexpensive remedy. It's essential to use organic cold-pressed castor oil, not the chemically extracted kind. While there is limited research on castor oil for asthma, people have used it for centuries.

child with an inhaler FatCamera / Getty Images

Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.