Castor oil is a thick, golden liquid obtained from the seeds of the castor plant (also called castor beans) that has no scent or odour. Note that the castor seeds are only nominally called beans and are not in fact, true beans. The intensity of the colour of the castor oil depends on its level of refinement, with the colourless version of the oil being the most refined and vice versa. The castor beans are made up of about 50% in oil and are mostly harvested in China and India. Although averagely priced, castor oil is difficult and dangerous to harvest because of certain toxic compounds which are inherent on all castor bean surfaces.
Castor oil contains an extremely high amount of a rare and unusual fatty acid called ricinoleic acid. Ricinoleic acid is an unsaturated fatty acid which is only found in castor oil and in a group of fungi called ergot. This fatty acid is highly beneficial to health and its effects on humans will be discussed later on. The numerous benefits have made it one of the most popular oils in the market, next to the olive oil and coconut oil.
Castor oil was already used thousands of years ago by Egyptians to help fight off skin infections and for healthy hair. It was also used by primitive people to preserve food due to its strong antimicrobial properties. In India, it was a popular folk medicine that was used as a laxative and to help improve memory. It still plays an important role in Indian traditional medicine (Ayurvedic medicine) to this date.
Castor Oil Uses
Medicinal Uses And Properties
Castor oil or its derivatives are largely involved in the pharmaceutical industry today. They are added into many contemporary drugs including antifungal agents and is even used in cancer treatments. It is also added into many over-the-counter creams to treat various skin conditions such as acne and eczema. The small molecular size of the castor oil allows it to penetrate deeply into the skin very quickly, making it suitable as an active ingredient in creams.
It is also effective in relieving constipation but its role as a laxative has been discontinued because of undesirable and sometimes painful side effects.
Castor oil exhibits strong pain-killing, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties due to its high ricinoleic acid content. It is normally applied on infected or open wounds to help ease pain and discomfort while killing off any bacteria. It may sting slightly at first but its analgesic properties will come into effect shortly after that. Besides that, it is also extremely effective in treating swollen or painful joints, a condition otherwise known as arthritis. A simple topical application to the affected area can instantly relieve pain and soothe painful joints. It can also be massaged into sore or strained muscles to reduce discomfort and encourage faster healing.
Other common uses for castor oil are to fight off yeast infections such as athlete’s foot and ringworm, relieve abdominal pain and to soothe inflamed skin. Some people are reporting considerable important from neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease after consistent use.
An effective way to use the castor oil for these purposes would be to soak some of it into a piece of handkerchief or small cloth and place it on the affected area. The cloth is then slowly heated with a small heat source such as a candle, a hot container or a heating pad.
Castor Oil For Hair
Castor oil has been proven to be extremely effective for treating dry, brittle or damaged hair. Most hair damage is caused by excessive use of hair products such as wax and hairspray. These hair products corrode and eat away at your hair while stripping off the moisture from them when they dry. Using this amazing oil can help repair your hair and keep it healthy via a number of different ways.
Firstly, it provides an intense moisturizing effect to the hair and scalp. This moisture can easily penetrate deep down into the pores, all the way down to the roots of the hair. This guarantees a long-lasting, thorough hydration of the hair and scalp.
The oil then aids the repairing process by supplying it with proper minerals and nutrients needed by the scalp. Finally, it dissolves any accumulated build-up from hair products or from other sources in the pores of the scalp. It instantly unclogs blocked pores by removing blockages such as dirt, sebum, bacteria and chemicals.
Jamaican Black Castor Oil
The Jamaican Black Castor Oil has received rave reviews from people around the world due to its natural ability to prevent hair loss and encourage hair growth. It is processed differently from the normal version of castor oil. The Jamaican Black Castor Oil is produced by manually roasting and then grounding the castor beans. These beans are later heated and the oil is distilled out of the crushed beans. The distinct, black colour of the Jamaican Black Castor Oil is due to the roasting process, which produces chemical and slight structural changes in the oil itself. It has a strong, ash-like smell which can easily be distinguished from other oils.
Using this form of castor oil can greatly encourage hair growth by stimulating the production of keratin and is perfect to grow bald spots. However, this can only partially explain its high efficacy in treating hair-loss related problems and its exact mechanism of action is not known.
People using the Jamaican Black Castor Oil over a period of a few months usually report increased hair growth and thickened, lustrous hair which is less prone to both physical and chemical damage. Split-ends are also completely eliminated after consistent use and the hair gets noticeably more visually healthy and attractive.
Steps for proper application
An effective way to utilize this oil would be to apply it directly to your hair and scalp and leave it there for at least 15 minutes for proper absorption. You can then wash it off with warm water or with a mild shampoo. Some people experience itchiness and discomfort when using pure castor oil because of its concentrated nature. Simply mix it with a carrier oil or your shampoo if you find it too strong for you.
Using castor oil this way for at least twice a week can get you noticeable results within weeks.
Castor oil is involved in the production of polymers like plastics and rubbers, certain types of adhesives and also in paints.
It is sometimes used as a lubricant, especially in engines because it is biodegradable and cause of its ability to resist high temperatures without dissociating.
Some medicated shampoos, herbal body washes, soaps and moisturizers contain castor oil because of its rich content and its strong emolliating properties.
The oil is sometimes added into certain types of food as a preservative, additive or flavouring.
Warnings And Precautions
- Women who are pregnant should refrain from consuming castor oil, unless advised specifically by a medical professional, because it is said to be able to induce birth.
- Not all types of castor oil sold are edible and some are only meant to be for external applications. Make sure you check the label carefully before using it for consumption.
- Some dishonest manufacturers sell a non-authentic version of the Jamaican Black Castor Oil by adding a colouring agent to a regular oil. The authentic version of the oil contains a distinct, ashy smell and can be easily distinguished from counterfeit products. Also, make sure to buy from trusted suppliers only.
The major role that castor oil plays in our lives today is not unusual given its various benefits and uses. From hair loss to muscle cramps, castor oil can be used for all types of purposes and is truly a flexible, versatile and effective oil.