Castor oil: 8 effects + 3 tips for use

It is one of the oldest laxatives in the world and is experiencing a real comeback in skin and hair care of all things: castor oil. Here you can find out everything about the miracle cure and how to use it correctly, internally and externally.

It’s now on everyone’s lips when it comes to hair and skin care. The older generations in particular still know the traditional household remedy castor oil as a proven laxative. You can find out what exactly is behind the oil here.

Things to know about castor oil

Castor oil is also known as castor oil and is pressed from the seeds of the tropical castor plant (Ricinus Communis in Latin). The castor oil plant, also known as the miracle tree, belongs to the poisonous spurge family . The shrub with the beautiful reddish petals grows everywhere in tropical areas, although it is originally from North Africa and the Middle East.

The transparent to slightly yellowish shimmering oil comes from the seeds of the castor oil plant. You should definitely stay away from them, because the seeds contain the highly toxic protein ricin . Even a small amount of the seeds is enough to kill an adult male. But don’t panic – the poison is of course separated from the rest during the oil pressing.

The history of castor oil goes back a very long way, its effects on the stomach and intestines are even recorded in the Bible and old papyrus writings . In ancient Egyptian times, castor oil was used as a medicine and fuel for oil lamps. But even in ancient Greece and the Middle Ages, people knew about the positive effects of oil and used it both externally and internally. Castor oil has been considered an effective laxative in Europe since the 18th century. Today it is used medicinally as well as cosmetically and industrially.

What makes castor oil special

What exactly makes castor oil so special is obvious. It consists mainly of certain parts of ricinoleic acid , which has tremendous effects on the human body. But an extremely high proportion of vitamin E and essential fatty acids also contribute to the unique properties of castor oil.

The oil can be produced in different ways. The processes are divided into cold pressing, hot pressing and extraction from the press cake. However, only the oil from cold pressing is of really high quality . Only with gentle pressing at low temperatures can it be guaranteed that no components are lost. However, this pressing also means a more complex process, which is why cold-pressed castor oils are not among the cheapest.

How do I recognize cold-pressed castor oil?
You will not always find a reference to the pressing process on the packaging of the castor oil. Often the oil is referred to as “native” instead. And that is exactly what says that this oil is cold pressed. So it is always better to use virgin castor oil .

Ingredients of castor oil

With a full 85 percent , castor oil consists largely of the triricinolein of ricinoleic acid. They are also responsible for most of the known effects of the oil. In addition, the omega-6 fatty acid linolene and the monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid are also found in the natural product. Palmitic acid and stearic acid are also noteworthy . Other healing or even nutritious components are not found in castor oil.

Effects of Castor Oil

Although the oil is in no way nutritious or even healing, it is used for some ailments. Castor oil is probably best known for its powerful laxative and digestive properties  . You can also use it to treat dandruff, age spots and warts. The oil is particularly suitable for optimal hair care – be it eyebrows, eyelashes or scalp hair. Many studies also deal with castor oil for obstetrics. It can trigger contractions and thus initiate the birth entrance.

Castor oil in cosmetics

You should always distinguish between internal and external use of castor oil. This is where the purchase decision begins: while you can only find the laxative castor oil in pharmacies , the oil for skin and hair care can be bought in almost every drugstore. Therefore, you should really only use the different products for the intended application and never mix them up.

If you have the choice, it is always best to choose a cold-pressed oil. Incidentally, you can also recognize the quality by the color of the product: If it is transparent, for example, this indicates a loss of the important components. In the best-case scenario, it should have a slightly yellowish discoloration .

For beautiful skin

Castor oil is rich in vitamin E. Hardly any other vitamin has such a strong effect on the skin as this one. As an important antioxidant , it fights against free radicals, which destroy cells and cause the skin to age quickly. Castor oil is also said to fade dark circles under the eyes and make the skin more beautiful and softer.

Against wrinkles

Castor oil has a particularly positive effect on the body’s own collagen formation . Collagen is extremely important for flexible, soft and supple skin. A deficiency can, for example, cause the skin to age faster and thus be responsible for premature wrinkling . When used regularly, castor oil keeps the skin nice and firm and can iron out small wrinkles. The vitamin E also protects the skin from cell damage, such as that which can occur during intensive exposure to UV rays .

For scars and age spots

Just as it can prevent wrinkles, rapid collagen formation can also heal scars faster and fade pigment spots. Due to the promoted collagen formation, the tissue remains elastic and scarred areas are less pronounced. Age or pigment spots can also fade over time. Young mothers who are struggling with stretch marks also benefit from regular use of the oil. It is very important here, however, that the castor oil is only used after the birth and not as a preventive measure beforehand.

For lip care

Castor oil is not a rare addition to lipsticks or lip balms . The oil gives sensitive lips more shine and suppleness . In addition, the oil is said to have an adhesive effect and the lipstick lasts much longer.

For hair care

Dry heating air, chlorine water or air conditioning: Many factors make hair brittle, dry and lackluster. Castor oil can make your hair soft and beautiful again. Since the oil contains no nutrients, it cannot accelerate hair growth, contrary to popular misconception.

But the castor oil can do something completely different. It sustainably strengthens the hair roots and makes the hair supple. This at least reduces hair loss . The oil also has a calming effect on tense and irritated scalps. Using castor oil is very easy. You can either add the oil to your usual shampoos, use the oil pure as a hair treatment, or buy products based on castor oil.

For eyelashes and eyebrows

Unfortunately, no one can influence how long and voluminous eyelashes and hair grow, after all it’s all in the genes . Therefore, no home, natural or chemical remedy can work wonders, even if it is advertised on many products.

However, a healthy diet and lifestyle can partially influence hair growth. But the right care from the outside also has an effect on the appearance. If you regularly use castor oil on eyelashes and eyebrows, they will actually appear more voluminous and fuller over time . There is a good reason for this: the oil strengthens the hair roots and makes the eyelashes and eyebrows smoother. As a result, the hair breaks less often, is supplied with moisture and is strengthened. Ultimately, this means: More hair grows back than you lose per day.

Castor oil is a wonderful addition to your hair care routine. The best thing about the oil is that it is a natural product. This makes it an extremely skin- friendly product that only rarely causes allergies. Nevertheless, you should of course be careful with the oil near your eyes. You should definitely remove your make-up and contact lenses before use. Carefully work the castor oil into your eyelashes with an eyelash brush . After one to two hours you can gently remove the oil from the eyelashes.

Internal use of castor oil

Castor oil has been used both internally and externally for thousands of years. It is known and popular precisely because of its laxative effect. The beautifying effects on hair and skin were a nice side effect. The two best-known internal applications are explained below.

As a laxative

Clearly, the best-known medicinal use of castor oil is as a laxative. This has been practiced since ancient times and patients are still given castor oil to defecate before an operation. Nobody really knew how the oil actually works and why it has this strong effect.

However, the latest studies could shed light on the function. Ricinoleic acid is therefore absorbed in the body via the intestinal mucosa . A specific receptor, the EP3 , reacts to the acid and becomes active on the muscle cells in the intestines and uterus. This in turn is supposed to stimulate intestinal activity and thus promote emptying of the intestines. Experiments were carried out on mice in which the EP3 was specifically switched off – and which then did not react in any way to castor oil.

Castor oil is therefore also wonderfully suited to a detoxification cure. Here you can find out how to properly detoxify your body and why it can be so healthy.

To induce labor

Just as the EP3 receptor in the stomach reacts to the castor oil, it also activates a specific process in the uterus . Strictly speaking, the ricinoleic acid acts on the muscle cells and triggers a contraction of the uterus – i.e. a contraction of the muscle cells. This promotes labor and can lead to a quick birth.

In a 1984 study, scientists found that giving castor oil increased the chance of giving birth within 24 hours by as much as 75 percent .

For many pregnant women who have already passed their due date, this knowledge is definitely a valuable enrichment. But it is very important that you do not experiment alone. Castor oil should always be taken under supervision , either by a doctor or a midwife. Side effects are not uncommon, often accompanied by nausea and diarrhea. In addition, the cervix should already be slightly dilated when you take the oil.

Side Effects of Castor Oil

Castor oil has strong effects on the stomach and intestines even with a small intake . And although it is a natural product and is well tolerated in most cases, you should handle it with care. Pregnant women should avoid castor oil altogether, as it can trigger premature labor. Children under the age of 12 should also avoid the oil.

In addition, you may react with diarrhea or nausea . This is usually not too bad and is even common. You should only see a doctor if these symptoms persist. If you have an intestinal obstruction or other inflammatory diseases , you should stay away from castor oil.

Like almost any other natural product, castor oil can cause an allergy . In order not to only notice an allergy after you have spread the product all over your body, you should test it briefly beforehand. It is enough if you smear a little oil on your forearm and wait about a quarter of an hour . If no redness, itching or pustules are noticeable, a larger application is harmless .

Application tips

You should always discuss the internal use of castor oil with your doctor or pharmacist, because they know best what you should consider. We give you first tips on how to use castor oil correctly – both externally and internally.

For the hair

For more beautiful and fuller-looking hair, you should integrate castor oil into your hair care routine. It’s pretty easy to use, just maybe a little time consuming.

First, wash your hair thoroughly and then dry it off a little. Then massage the oil into your scalp – feel free to take your time here. A head massage stimulates blood circulation and helps you get rid of dandruff . Distribute the oil carefully in the strands and then comb your hair once through. Now wrap your hair with a warm towel or cling film . The heat allows the oil to soak in better. Either you leave the treatment on for two to three hours or overnight . Finally, wash the oil out thoroughly with a shampoo until all greasy residue has been rinsed out.

Incidentally, you also intensively care for your fingernails during this process . Castor oil helps with dry and cracked cuticles. But beard hair can also be cared for in this way.

For the skin

As long as you’re not allergic to castor oil, feel free to rub it liberally on your skin. It is best to massage it into the skin in the evening so that it has enough time to absorb at night. The tightening effect will only become apparent after a few uses, so you should use the oil regularly to care for your skin.

You can apply the oil directly to dry areas, psoriasis and warts without hesitation. You should not treat only very fresh scars at first.

Internal application

Castor oil is perfect for an intestinal or detoxification cure. However, it is advisable to discuss this with your doctor first.

To achieve a laxative effect, about one to two teaspoons of castor oil are sufficient at the beginning. Use on an empty stomach before meals. Admittedly, the oil does not taste particularly good and can cause discomfort when taken on its own. To make it easier for you to take it, you can put the oil in a glass of (soy) milk and then drink it. You will feel the oil taking effect after about two to four hours . It’s best not to plan anything on this day – it’s rarely just going to the toilet.

Be careful with the dosage: If it is too high, it can lead to intestinal cramps and, in the worst case, to an intestinal blockage. Basically, a castor oil cure is not suitable for the long term, but only for short-term use.

Buy castor oil

Castor oil is not just castor oil. You will find products in drugstores and pharmacies. That makes sense too. Because while the oil sold in the drugstore is intended for external use, products from the pharmacy are to be used internally.

Always ensure good quality. Castor oil is not expensive commercially, so a good quality oil is quite affordable. Castor bean seeds are highly toxic and life-threatening. If the oil is not properly manufactured and contaminated, it can have enormous negative effects on your body and even on your skin. In Europe, the quality is usually well checked. In other countries this can be different. Therefore, you should not buy any oil whose manufacturer and origin raises questions.

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