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The Importance and Health Benefits of Castor Oil

by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

Castor oil has been used for centuries as a home remedy for all sorts of ailments. It is one of the oldest medicines known to man, and it’s high in nutritional value and has been shown to help with hair growth, weight loss, and more.

Many believe that ancient Egyptians were the first to discover the uses of castor oil and its benefits. It is also reportedly said that Cleopatra used castor oil to brighten the whites of her eyes. This pale yellow oil is simple to use and is not harmful to your skin, which makes it an excellent remedy for various ailments.

Some of the benefits of castor oil can be attributed to relieving constipation, easing arthritis symptoms, and treating eye irritation.

In this article, we will explore what exactly castor oil is, the many benefits of castor oil, and why you should consider using it.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak to your doctor before including castor oil in your nutrition or supplement regimen.

What is Castor Oil?

Castor oil is a thick, odorless vegetable oil made from the seeds of the castor plant. The use of castor oil dates back to ancient Egypt, where it was primarily used as lamp fuel and then later for medicinal and beauty ailments.

Today, most of the world’s castor oil comes from India. Modern research proves some of its traditional benefits, such as laxative effects, the ability to help induce labor, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Castor oil can be found in a range of hair and skincare products sold today and are also available at many specialty health stores.

Nutritional Value of Castor Oil

One tablespoon of castor oil contains the following:

  • Protein: 0 g
  • Calories: 120 cal
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Carbs: 0 g
  • Sugar: 0 g

Castor oil is a good source of omega-6 fatty acids, omega-9 fatty acids, and vitamin E. More than 90% of the fatty acid content in castor oil comes from ricinoleic acid.

Research shows that the omega-9 fatty acid has anti-inflammatory effects and relieves pain. When applied to the skin, it may help alleviate issues like menstrual cramps and joint pain.

The Health Benefits of Castor Oil

Castor oil has many health benefits if you add it to your diet. Here are some of them:

1.      Labor induction

Women have reportedly used castor oil to induce labor when they are overdue. A retrospective observational study looked at the use of castor oil for labor induction. The study took place for more than five years and included women between 40 to 41 weeks of pregnancy, which is full-term. Compared with the control group, the women who used castor oil had a higher probability of going into labor within 24 hours.

The labor-inducing property of castor oil is from the fact that it is used as a laxative. It can cause spasms in the intestines, stimulating the bowels and vagal nerve. This irritates the uterus and can lead to its contraction.

2.      A strong laxative

Castor oil has a laxative effect due to its ricinoleic acid content. Ricinoleic acid works as a lubricant in the intestines, making it easier for food to pass through the digestive tract.

Castor oil can help with constipation by increasing intestinal movement. It also stimulates blood circulation and improves nutrient absorption in the intestines. This is especially helpful if you have poor digestion due to an inflamed or damaged colon lining or other problems with your digestive system.

According to a 2011 study, it was seen that when older adults took castor oil, they had low symptoms of constipation, including reduced feelings of incomplete bowel movements and less straining during bowel movements.

3.      It works as a natural moisturizer

Castor oil works as a natural moisturizer for the skin, which can help relieve dryness and itching caused by eczema and psoriasis. It also helps prevent premature aging, wrinkles, and acne breakouts on the face, as well as stretch marks on other body parts.

Castor oil can also heal sunburn and also has an SPF value of 6, which is why you may find it in some of your sunscreen lotions.

4.      Wound healing properties

Castor oil has fatty acids that are natural humectants, which is a substance used to moisturize the skin by preventing water loss. It has the potential to promote wound healing. Castor oil works as a triglyceride that has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.

There are studies that show ointments with castor oil may be suitable for treating various wounds. According to a 2013 case study, it was revealed that a treatment with a spray containing a combination of balsam of Peru, an enzyme called trypsin, and castor oil helped heal an abdominal surgical wound in an 81-year-old man who could not tolerate other forms of topical therapy.

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