Castor oil for Herbal Naturopathy: properties, benefits, uses, side effects

Castor oil, rich in ricinoleic acid, is a powerful laxative, also useful as a restructuring for hair and eyelashes. Let’s find out its properties, methods of use and contraindications.

Castor oil is a vegetable oil obtained by cold pressing the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant, of the Euphorbiaceae family. Rich in ricinoleic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid, it has always been known for its laxative properties.

Characteristics of castor oil

Castor oil is characterized by an intense smell, a high sticky density and a color between yellow and brown.

It contains a complex acidic composition formed by palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, alpha-linoleic acid, ricinoleic acid and arachic acid. This composition justifies its properties and its uses both for purification of the organism and in the cosmetic field.

The taste and smell are neither pleasant on the palate nor on the nose. 
Its particular affinity to the keratin components makes it an elective product for all body appendages, such as hair, eyelashes and nails, for which it performs a strengthening, thickening and moisturizing action. 

Properties of castor oil

Castor oil has always been known for its highly laxative properties and in the past it was also used as an instrument of torture.

The intestinal purifying action is ascribable to the presence of ricinoleic acid, which is released once processed by digestive enzymes. A small part is absorbed by the intestine, while the remainder remains in the intestinal tracts of the jejunum and ileum and acts as if it were a soap that creates a barrier and prevents the absorption of water and mineral salts. This leads to an increase in fluids in the intestinal lumen with the consequent solicitation of emptying semiliquid stools in a few hours. 

Castor oil is also known for its strengthening, restructuring and softening properties, effective in case of dry, brittle and tending to break hair. It is widely used to strengthen and give volume to lashes and to promote nail regrowth. These properties are linked to the presence of minerals, vitamin E , Omega 6 and Omega 9, whose antioxidant action limits the degeneration of keratin

It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties, which are exploited by the pharmaceutical industry for the production of topical pharmaceutical products.

Contraindications of castor oil

Castor oil is not an easy to use product and can have side effects and contraindications :

> gastric malabsorption;
> abdominal pain;
> nausea or vomiting ;
> muscle cramps ;
> arrhythmia ;
> skin rash and itching .

Its intake is not recommended in case of irritable bowel syndrome , pregnant and breastfeeding as a precaution and if you are taking life-saving drugs, as it could alter their absorption.


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