Castor oil - Properties, benefits, uses and contraindications

Castor oil – Properties, benefits, uses and contraindications

Castor Oil: What is it?

Castor or castor oil is multipurpose vegetable oil. It is obtained from the extraction and processing of the Ricinus communis plant seeds. Due to its multifaceted properties, castor oil is used in the food and cosmetic industries. Its medicinal properties as a laxative treatment for osteoarthritis and skin infections make this product a potential substitute for certain traditional medicines. What are its contraindications?

One of the contraindications of using pure seeds is the presence of an enzyme called ricin. This molecule can be toxic to humans in low concentrations. However, in making castor oil, this molecule is eliminated. In other words, this oil is considered safe for health.

Castor oil properties

The properties of castor oil have been known since the time of the Egyptians. This civilization used this product to accelerate wound healing processes and treat eye and skin infections. The properties of castor oil are:

  1. Prevent acne
  2. Laxative properties
  3. Reduces the healing time of wounds and ulcers on the skin
  4. Fight yeast infections
  5. Reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis
  6. Help induce labor
  7. Improve hair health

1. Prevents acne

Acne is a skin infection usually caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus. Castor oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties capable of fighting the growth of pimples and blemishes on the skin.

2. Laxative properties

This is perhaps one of the properties of castor oil most used in medicine. Taking 15 mL of castor oil helps prevent constipation. This is explained due to the activity of a unique molecule: ricinoleic acid. (2)

  1. Reduces the healing time of wounds and ulcers on the skin

The use of castor oil is effective for ulcers and wounds on the skin. Studies (1) (3) confirm positive results in reducing the healing time of this type of skin infection.

  1. Fight fungal infections

It has been confirmed that one of the properties of castor oil is to fight diseases caused by fungi such as Candida. In particular, it can be an effective treatment for oral infections. (1)

  1. Reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis

One of the medicinal properties with the most significant potential is its use as a treatment for osteoarthritis. In a study (4), two groups of people were subjected to traditional therapy for knee osteoarthritis ( diclofenac sodium ) and castor oil; relieving symptoms were similar.

  1. Help induce labor

Castor oil is one of the oldest natural products for inducing labor. According to studies (5), ricinoleic acid is a molecule with properties capable of activating a higher frequency of contractions in the uterus.

  1. Improves hair health

Like coconut oil, one of the properties of castor oil is to improve hair health. Applying castor oil in small amounts helps avoid dehydration and enhances shine.

How to take castor oil? – Recommended dose

Castor oil should be taken before meals. As a treatment for constipation, the recommended dose is about 15 to 60 mL in its pure form. It is recommended to take the same amount about 16 hours before the procedure for colon cleansing.

The dose for children varies according to age:

  • Less than two years 1-5 mL single dose
  • 2-12 years: 4-15 mL single dose
  • Over 12 years: 15-60 mL single dose

Contraindications and side effects of castor oil

Castor oil is considered a safe food, and to date, no research has detected strong interactions with other drugs. However, always consult your doctor before taking castor oil on its own.

The most common side effects are:

  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Sickness
  • Pressure drop
  • Pelvic cramps or congestion

The contraindications of castor oil are:

  • Hypersensitivity
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Acute colitis
  • Rectal fissures


Castor or castor oil is a multipurpose vegetable oil widely used in the food and cosmetic industry. The most common uses are as a laxative and prevention of skin infections. Recent studies have confirmed medicinal properties such as relieving the symptoms of osteoarthritis and inducing labor. What makes this product a potential natural substitute for pharmaceutical drugs.

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