I was reminded the other day how many people don’t know about all of the cheap and easy old-timey remedies that people used to rely on, like castor oil. Many of these remedies have been used for centuries, simply because they work. Castor oil is one such helpful substance that really does fix just about everything as well today as it did in it’s first recorded use 3000 years ago. Really, if it’s been working for 3000 years, chances are it’s going to keep working.
There are internal uses for castor oil, but I wouldn’t necessarily suggest them simply because this isn’t a gentle plant – it’s a kick in the pants (literally). Castor oil taken internally is a laxative strong enough not only to induce bowel cramping and diarrhea, but even to induce labor contractions in pregnant women. I actually used it to induce labor for myself recently and I can honestly say the castor-oil cramps were almost as bad as the labor pains. Eek! Not a lot of fun, but if you’re impatiently waiting for a baby it does work. The reaction is so strong that castor oil is even reputed to have been used by fascist mobs in Italy in the 1920s as a form of intimidation (I would be intimidated). Essentially these mobs would force feed their victims castor oil and turn them lose to have an agonizing and embarrassing bout of violent diarrhea. This, I suppose, made the victims then comply with whatever it was the fascist mob wanted in the first place. Ummm… Yeah. So don’t use it like that please.
While I’m obviously not a big fan of internal use in all but the most dire circumstances, topical use of castor oil is a miracle strong enough to make it a necessary part of every medicine cabinet. The uses for topical castor oil are threefold:
- Digestive – Castor oil over the liver and abdomen helps to treat constipation, inflammatory bowel, liver congestion, gall bladder disease, bowel adhesions, lymphatic congestion, hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and even infections in pelvic organs such as bladder and vaginal tract. For anyone looking to cleanse the liver or eliminate gallbladder sludge, this is a necessary.
- Skin – Topically castor oil can help with bacterial or fungal skin infections, rashes, acne, boils, abscesses, age spots, sebaceous cysts, warts, preventing stretch marks, ringworm, skin keratosis, swollen lymph nodes and eczema. It takes redness out of rashes through a strong anti-inflammatory action and softens even the most resistant skin, so it’s also a great natural beauty tool.
- Pain – Topical castor oil can also be used to mitigate or relieve internal pain and inflammation from many causes. This includes uterine cramping and abdominal pain related to the menses, joint pain and inflammation from arthritis, bursitis or tendinitis, muscle and ligament sprains, pain due to fluid retention in extremities, painful lymph nodes, even pain from appendicitis (although you still need to get to the ER post haste)
So – let me say this a different way. TOPICAL castor oil can help with:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Abdominal pain and inflammation
- Adhesions after surgery
- Lymphatic congestion
- Liver detox
- Gallbladder sludge
- Pelvic infections
- Menstrual cramps or pain
- Fungal infections
- Age spots
- Stretch mark prevention
- Joint pain and inflammation
- Muscle and ligament sprains and strains
- Painful lymph nodes
The reason for it’s dramatic success in so many areas is simply the size of the primary molecule, ricinoleic acid, which comprises about 90% of the oil’s volume. Ricinoleic acid is strongly anti-inflammatory and is a small enough molecule to penetrate into the deepest layers of the skin as well as into the lymphatic channels. This penetration and effect is even better if you use heat on the area being treated. I recently had to have a C-section to deliver my little girl (the same one that was induced with castor oil – as it turns out her head was bigger than my body could handle). Castor oil topically over the C-section scar has helped it to soften and heal and really helped with the initial post-labor pain.
The best news is that 8oz of organic castor oil will run between $5 and $10 depending on how fancy a store you like to shop in. That 8oz will last most of your natural life because there’s really only so much you can use at once. Stay tuned for instructions on how to do an at home castor oil pack – both the conventional instructions, and my own much lazier method. 🙂
The castor bean plant, also called Palma Christi, or Palm of Christ. Possibly because of its hand-shaped leaves, possibly because castor oil is as close to a miracle as I’ve ever seen.