The Amazing Health Benefits and Uses of Castor Oil

The Amazing Health Benefits and Uses of Castor Oil

Castor oil has been used for centuries in the Far East, Africa, and the Mediterranean region for its amazing health benefits. For most people today, though, castor oil is usually just associated with its use as a laxative. However, castor oil has many other uses and it can greatly benefit your hair, skin, and face. Read on to discover the many health benefits and uses of castor oil.

What is Castor Oil?

Castor oil is extracted from the castor seed (Ricinus communis). Castor oil is produced by cold pressing the seeds and subsequently clarifying of the oil by heat.

Castor oil contains approximately 90% ricinoleic acid and this specific fatty acid makes castor oil so beneficial. In fact, ricinoleic acid is a very rare compound and is mainly only found in castor seeds.

Although scientists still don’t fully understand exactly how it works, they have discovered that ricinoleic acid attaches itself to one particular receptor in the intestines and uterus. The discovery may explain how castor oil works and could lead to the development of new drugs.11

In the past, there have been reports that castor oil it is not safe to ingest. This is probably due to the fact that ricin (one of the ingredients in the castor seed) is actually toxic. However, during the extraction process, this toxin becomes deactivated.

Here are the many health benefits and uses of castor oil.

Castor oil is a Safe, Natural Laxative

Castor oil is a natural remedy for constipation and it is one the best natural laxatives for constipation. It works by increasing the movement of the intestines, helping the stool to come out.1,2

Castor oil is considered safe to ingest and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that castor oil is “generally recognized as safe and effective for use as a stimulant laxative1.” The World Health Organization (WHO) has also established that an acceptable safe daily intake for a man is up to 0.7 mg/kg body weight.1

You should be aware that castor oil may cause a few side effects, so make sure to read the last part of my article about the side effects of castor oil before using it.

You may also want to consult with your doctor before using castor oil internally, just to make sure it is safe for your condition.


To use castor oil as a natural laxative it should be taken on an empty stomach:

  • Adults should take 1 to 2 tbsp.
  • Children 2 – 12 yrs old should take 1 to 2 tsp.
  • Children under 2 yrs old should not have more than a teaspoon at a time.

You shouldn’t exceed the recommended dosage and don’t take it for more than 7 days.

It may take 6 to 12 hours before castor oil causes a bowel movement. Tell your doctor if your condition persists or worsens, or if bleeding from the rectum occurs. If you think you may have a serious medical problem, seek immediate medical attention.

Anti-inflammatory Properties

What is it about castor oil that helps to reduce inflammation? Castor oil stimulates the lymphatic system and helps the body fight inflammation and disease. When the body’s lymphatic system is working properly and effectively, then it is able to heal itself quicker.

A study into the effect of ricinoleic acid in inflammation also discovered that it has properties similar to those found in capsaicin – a known natural pain relief remedy4. Capsaicin reduces pain by decreasing a chemical in the body which sends pain signals to the brain5. This is why chili and cayenne pepper topical applications can relieve pain.

Castor Oil for Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis most commonly associated with aging and it’s characterized by chronic inflammation of the joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common type of arthritis that causes inflammation and it predominantly affects the joints in the body. It is classified as an autoimmune disease and researchers are just beginning to understand it.

Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, castor oil can be used to relieve joint pain which is associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is effective in relieving pain both if it’s taken orally or applied topically.

When taken orally, castor oil is also an effective pain relief treatment. This was backed up by a trial where patients with knee osteoporosis were given castor oil three times a day for 4 weeks.

The results were surprising in that castor oil worked just as well at relieving pain as diclofenac sodium, which is the main ingredient in some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs. The difference with using castor oil was that the patients did not experience any side effects.3

There are other natural and effective alternatives to NSAID’s and you can read about them in my other article.

If you suffer from arthritis you can also try to use other natural remedies:

Castor Oil for Cancer

Because castor oil contains many anti-inflammatory properties and also has a positive effect on the lymph system, some scientists are looking at the effect that castor oil can have in treating certain cancers.

Although more research has to be done, there are some interesting results from clinical trials on using castor oil to inhibit tumor growth.

One example was published in the International Journal of Toxicology where castor oil extracts were able to suppress tumors in male mice6. Another study published in the Chinese Journal of Cancer Research showed that ricinoleic acid together with selenium (found in Brazil nuts) was able to kill off ascites tumor cells7.

It has also been cited in research as a possible inhibitor of breast cancer8.

Castor Oil is Antibacterial and Antifungal

Another amazing use of castor oil is in helping the body naturally fighting infections and heal wounds. Of course, the fact that it improves blood circulation and stimulates the lymphatic system is beneficial in fighting infections. But, studies into castor oil have also shown that it is effective in killing off bacteria and fungi.

Research published in the Bulletin of Environmental, Pharmacology and Life Sciences showed that it was effective against Staphylococcus (the bacteria that causes food poisoning, skin infections, and pneumonia) and Staphylococcal (responsible for sore throats and skin infections). 10

The research also showed that castor oil is also anti-fungal, but comparatively, bacteria were found to be more susceptible than fungi.

Castor Oil to Stimulate Labor

Castor oil has also been used for centuries as a traditional method of inducing labor6. This is because the castor oil induces contractions in the uterus. However, most health practitioners advise against using this to stimulate labor. A study concluded that “castor oil for induction of labor was neither harmful or helpful9.”

Castor Oil for Healthy and Shiny Hair

The benefits of castor oil aren’t just for the skin, but for the hair as well. It is best using castor oil as a hair mask and the benefits will be very noticeable. You will have shinier, healthier hair. Castor oil also helps with hair regrowth and treats dandruff.

You can find more detailed information and research about it in my article on how to use castor oil to improve and regrow your hair.

Castor oil can also contribute to keeping your eyelashes and eyebrows healthy and shiny and encourage their growth as well. You can find information in my article on how to use castor oil to regrow eyelashes and eyebrows.

Castor Oil for Skin

Castor oil can be used to clear up a whole number of different skin complaints. The anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties make it an excellent skin treatment product. Some skin problems that castor oil can help treat are:

  • dry skin
  • damaged skin
  • diaper rash
  • acne

Castor oil is also excellent at cleansing the skin and you can find more details about it in my article on how to rejuvenate your skin using oil cleansing.

Castor Oil for Acne

Castor oil is one of the best natural remedies for acne and this is due the ricinoleic acid found in it.

As the ricinoleic acid penetrates deep into your skin, it fights bacteria overgrowth that can clog pores, while softening and hydrating irritated skin at the same time.

Here are several ways to use castor oil for treating acne:

For a natural acne treatment dab castor oil onto the affected area with a clean cotton swab.

You can also try other natural remedies for acne:

All of these options reduce redness and swelling of acne blemishes. If you suffer from acne scars, read my article on how to naturally get rid of acne scars.

To prevent future breakouts, wash your face first in warm water to open up the pores and then massage some of the oil into your face and leave it on overnight, rinsing the next morning. You can also use this DIY face wash for acne, pimples and blackheads.

Important note: you may want to do a patch test with castor oil just to make sure you don’t develop an allergic reaction. Initially you may also want to leave castor oil on your face for just a few hours (and not overnight), just to see that you don’t develop any negative reaction.

Castor Oil for Age Spots

Castor oil is one of my top natural remedies for improving age spots and hyperpigmentation. Castor oil has skin healing properties and it helps to tone your skin.

Castor oil can be gently massaged into the skin to reduce the appearance of age spots and dark pigmentation. You should leave it on for 2 hours before washing off. Do this twice a day to help fade dark spots and tone your skin.

Castor Oil for Stretch Marks

The rich fatty acids in castor oil can help you get rid of stretch marks. All you have to do is massage castor oil into the affected area for about 15 minutes. You could also mix it with coconut oil or sweet almond oil for extra health benefits.

Or more effectively, you can wrap a warm cloth around the area where you have massaged the castor oil and leave it on for 15 minutes.

For more ideas, read my article on how to naturally improve stretch marks.

Castor Oil for Boils

The anti-inflammatory properties of castor oil work great in treating boils and it is one of the best natural remedies for boils.

Soak a cotton ball in castor oil and place it on the boil, keeping it in place with gauze. Change the dressing after a few hours.

Castor Oil for Cracked Hills

Cracked heels are an issue that plenty of people have to deal with and not a single person enjoys. Having cracked heels, otherwise known as heel fissures, is a persistent inconvenience that is hard to deal with.

Castor oil is an effective and safe way to alleviate the symptoms of cracked heels – massage your washed hills with castor oil every evening.

For more ideas, read my article about the best natural remedies for cracked hills.

Castor Oil for Eye Stye (Sty)

Once again, because castor oil is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, it is great at helping treat eye sties, which are caused by a staph infection.

To treat a stye with castor oil, wash the eye with warm water and dry it with a clean towel, then apply two to three drops of castor oil to the stye itself. This can be done three times per day until the stye shows signs of improvement. You can also try one of my other natural remedies for eye stye.

Castor Oil as a Sleep Aid

There is only anecdotal evidence that castor oil helps get a good night’s sleep, but many people say that it helps them deal with insomnia. It can be used by rubbing some oil on your eyelids or some people say that they use it in a heat pack on their back an hour before going to bed.

You can combine castor oil with other natural oils for a better sleep or with certain foods.

Castor Oil for Beautiful Nails

Regularly massage a small amount of castor oil into the cuticles of your nails for strong, healthy nails.

Castor Oil – Daily Usage

You should always follow the dosage that is written on the bottle. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that men should take no more than 0.7 mg/kg body weight daily.

  • This is about 1- 2 tablespoons.
  • Children between 2 – 12 yrs old should take about 1 – 2 teaspoons.
  • Children under 2 should not have more than a teaspoon at a time.

The castor oil can be mixed with juice to make it more palatable.

Of course, if you notice unpleasant side effects, you should reduce the dose or stop taking all together.

Castor Oil – Precautions and Side Effects

Castor oil has been recognized as safe to take. However, because it affects the intestines, it can cause gastrointestinal upset.

If you have had surgery or health issues related to gastric or bowel problems, then you should avoid taking castor oil.

Most of the women who took part in the study to see if castor oil helps to induce labor reported that they had bouts of nausea6.

If you are taking castor oil for reasons other than its laxative effects, then diarrhea or loose stools could also be viewed as a side effect.

You may also want to consult with your doctor before using castor oil internally, just to make sure it is safe for your condition.

Read these related articles:
1. How Castor Oil Can Improve and Regrow Your Hair
2. How to Get Rid of Acne Scars Naturally
3. How to Use Sweet Almond Oil for a Great Hair, Skin and Health
4. How to Use Rosehip Oil for Your Face, Skin and Hair


Healthy and Natural World