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Castor Oil


Other Names: Caster, Caster oil, Caster bean, Ricinus Communis
Herbal Research:

All parts of the castor plant are toxic if eaten, which kept many cultures from utilizing the plant. Modern cultures have discovered that the castor oil expressed from the seeds of the plant is not toxic.  Source: ABC

Medicinal uses supported by clinical data
None.
 
Uses described in pharmacopoeias and well established documents
Short-term  treatment  (3–5  days)  for  acute  constipation  when  other  dietary methods or bulk-forming laxatives have not provided adequate relief. As a cathartic for use in bowel evacuation prior to surgery (21). Used externally for topical dermatoses and dermatitis (5,6).
 
Uses described in traditional medicine
Used as an emmenagogue, to induce labour, for the treatment of burns, bronchitis, diarrhoea, itching, earache, haemorrhoids, pneumonia, rheumatism and sprains (6,22, 23)
 
A WHO Organizational resource: Caster Oil Research - FULL REPORT

Caster Oil 


 


One study indicates that castor oil eye drops may be useful in the treatment of a condition that results in chronic dry eyes.6  

All parts of the castor plant are toxic if eaten, which kept many cultures from utilizing the plant. 
Modern cultures have discovered that the castor oil expressed from the seeds of the plant is not toxic. The extraction process yields oil that is free of the toxin, ricin, but includes ricinoleic acid,3  which is responsible for the laxative action of the oil.2  Castor oil is used to clear the bowels before X-ray examination and in the treatment of food poisoning.3  The oil has a very unpleasant taste and is often hidden by administering it in combination with peppermint, cinnamon, lemon oil, coffee, or tea.4  
 
The oil has emollient (skin-softening) properties2,3  and can be found in cosmetics such as creams, lotions, lipstick, ointments, soaps, and hair products.3  Castor oil is employed by the food industry as a flavor component (nutty or buttery) in baked goods, candy, frozen dairy desserts, nonalcoholic beverages, and meat products.3  It is also commonly found in candles, crayons, varnishes, lubricants, and leather preservatives,1  as well as ophthalmic (eye) preparations.1,3  

References:

1  Bown D. The Herb Society of America New Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses. London: Dorling Kindersley Ltd; 2001.
 
2  Onstad D. Whole Foods Companion. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Co.; 1996.
 
3  Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics. New York: John Wiley and Sons; 1996.
 
4  Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. New York: Dover Publications; 1971.
 
5  Nayudamma Y, Seschachar B, Mithal R, Verma S, Balasundaram M, Kapur A, et al, editors. The Wealth of India: Raw Materials. Volume IX-Rh-So. New Delhi: Publications & Information Directorate (CSIR); 1988.
 
6  Goto E, Shimazaki J, Monden Y, Takano Y, YagiY, Shimmura S, et al. Low-concentration homogenized castor oil eye drops for noninflamed obstructive meibomian gland dysfunction. Ophthalmology. 2002:109(11);2030-2035.
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A WHO Organizational resource: Caster Oil Research - FULL REPORT





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