Castor oil: what is it for? See benefits and how to use

Currently castor bean has gained space in gardens and offices as a decorative item due to the intense and accentuated coloring. But the plant is not only known for its exuberance and aesthetics.

Used for decades for medicinal and therapeutic purposes, castor oil, extracted from castor oil, proves to be increasingly versatile. In addition to the traditional laxative uses, the oil extract has shown excellent effects on the skin, nails and hair.

What is castor oil?

The oil extracted from the seeds of castor bean ( Ricinus communis ) is a substance rich in nutrients and its use is generally reported for aesthetic and medicinal purposes. Although there is no scientific evidence of the effects in treating pathologies, the product shows excellent results for cosmetic uses.

Its medicinal and therapeutic use is not recent, being a substance well known among natural therapy communities. The laxative, lubricating, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects are already reported in ancient Egypt.

Due to the high amounts of omega 6 and 9, mineral salts and vitamin E , the natural extract has also entered the cosmetic market, especially in hair and skin products.

The oil is extracted from castor seeds through mechanical and chemical processes. After cleaning and sanitizing, the plant is cooked and pressed, resulting in the extraction of part of the oil. However, about 50% of the compost still remains in the seeds.

Then, solvents such as hexane, heptane and petroleum ethers are applied, without interfering with the composition of the extract.

When the purpose of the extract is medicinal, the method used is cold pressing, in which a clearer oil is obtained, free of toxins, without acidity and impurities. The result is a product with a neutral color, light aroma and oily consistency, consisting mainly of ricinoleic acid (omega 9).

As the product can still be used in industry, hot pressing can be done, which generates a product with a higher degree of acidity, around 1%, and up to 0.5% impurities. In the industrial area, the compost is used as a raw material for biodiesel.

What is castor oil?

Castor bean is a plant that can grow in several regions of Brazil, mainly due to its geographical and climatic adaptation (in general, it is very tolerant to drought). Framed in the category of shrubs, its leaves have simple shapes and the fruits look like capsules that may or may not have external spines.

It is the fruit that concentrates the most toxic part of the castor bean, the ricin protein. Castor seeds are essentially made up of oil, reaching 49% of the total. The other elements are water (6%), protein (17%), carbohydrates (13%), fiber (12%) and ash (3%).

The ricin

Despite being known for the countless benefits, castor bean has ricin toxin, a protein that can cause damage to the body even in small amounts. If ingested, injected or inhaled, the toxin can cause burns, intestinal disorders, irritation, organ failure and lead to death.

Ricin acts in the body by inactivating ribosomes, which are structures active in the production and synthesis of proteins. When in contact with cells, ricin deactivates ribosomal structures and inhibits protein synthesis, compromising biological functions.

In addition, the substance promotes the release of cytokines, causing damage to membranes and cell death. In a simplified way, the action of ricin in the body presents an irreversible protein synthesis inhibition, and an occasional cell death.

Toxicity is extremely high and its ribosomal inactivation capacity is approximately 1500 ribosomes per minute. Thus, intoxication can lead to death in just 36 hours due to hypovolemic shock.

In cases of inhalation, the lungs can be affected, suffering inflammation, edema and necrosis. In the injection of ricin, there are liver changes, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, liver necrosis and local lymphoid necrosis (death of the tissues near the injection).

Despite the high toxicity of ricin, castor oil poses no health risk as soon as ricin toxin is not extracted together, remaining as a by-product and being discarded.

Famous cases of intoxication

In the USA, attacks using toxic ricin are well known. In 2013, an attempt at poisoning through a letter was identified by the White House security system. The recipient was, until then, President Barack Obama.

Days earlier, American Senator Roger Wicker was the target of a very similar attempt. Both cases were identified and did not result in victims.

In addition, the substance gained even more notoriety when used in the series Breaking Bad, in which the protagonist Walter White uses ricin in an attempt to poison.

What is it for? Know the benefits

The use of castor oil is quite wide, with therapeutic, cosmetic and medicinal purposes.

Cosmetics

The product is rich in omega 6 and 9, restoring and strengthening the hair, eyebrow, skin, beard and nails.

In hair , the use of oil stimulates hair growth due to the strengthening of the root, reducing the fall due to breakage. The application also forms a protective layer, surrounding and sealing the cuticles, minimizing water loss, dryness and sun damage.

Castor oil has antibacterial and antifungal components that can mitigate the proliferation of agents on the scalp, which cause the hair to weaken. In addition, hair growth difficulty is mitigated due to nutrients and vitamin E.

Dandruff, which is a scaling of the scalp, can also be minimized with the hydration promoted by the oil. Thus, mild and moderate cases can be treated and resolved with continuous applications of the castor compound.

The product can also be used to promote the strengthening of the eyebrow , as well as stimulate its growth.

On the skin , the application promotes hydration and helps with elasticity, improving the dry appearance and reducing expressive marks. Due to deep hydration, castor oil can be used even in calluses and rough areas, smoothing the regions.

Castor oil, unlike many oils, has an astringent action, that is, it does not clog pores. Its action helps to cleanse the skin and reduces the incidence of pimples due to ricinoleic acid.

Applying the product regularly, it is possible to soften the signs of aging and to soften the signs of expression due to hydration. By stimulating the production of collagen and elastin, oil is an option to improve the appearance of the skin.

Despite its oil-like consistency, castor extract can generally be used on all skin types, as its use does not stimulate oiliness.

In the beard , it serves to moisturize, strengthen and stimulate the growth of facial hair.

Rich in vitamin E, castor oil can still have great effects if applied to nails and cuticles. The natural extract helps in strengthening, reducing breakage and improving the aesthetic aspect.

Its antibacterial properties can have an effect on protecting the edges of the nail. Thus, irregularities in the surface of the nails tend to decrease.

Therapeutics

When combined with massages, castor oil can promote blood circulation, improving muscle pain and inflammation. But the most common use of the product is for intestinal regulation .

Ingestion stimulates peristaltic movements, improving intestinal flow. Despite being natural, the product should not be used continuously and without medical advice, as soon as there are adverse effects, such as changes in the intestinal flora.

Medicinal

Although it has been used for years as a medicinal resource, the product is not scientifically recognized as an alternative in the treatment of pathologies. However, there are reports and some studies that point to possible benefits of oil combined with the treatment of migraines , inflammations and infections.

Castor oil lose weight?

Castor oil can be used to improve intestinal transit, relieving the swelling caused by constipation.

Despite promoting intestinal stimulation, the product should not be used frequently, as it can alter the intestinal flora due to the laxative action.

In addition, the extract can be applied to the skin to stimulate circulation to specific regions. Through massage and the action of oil, the circulatory system can be improved, favoring the elimination of swelling and fluid retention.

Therefore, oil alone does not cause weight loss.

How to use

In the hair

The weakening and hair loss caused by fungi or bacteria can be improved with the application of castor oil. The ideal is to dilute the extract with other products so that its concentration does not interfere with the breathing of the capillary pores. Thus, it is possible to use the compound daily.

If applied without rinsing, it is suggested to keep it further away from the scalp, as prolonged contact can cause irritation. In addition, you should not use dryers, flat iron, chemicals (such as dyes) or expose yourself to the sun after application.

Deep hydration

To nourish the hair intensely, you can mix 1 spoon of the oil to the moisturizing masks commonly used. After washing the hair, while it is still wet, apply the mixture, allowing it to act for about 20 minutes. Then, just rinse and apply the conditioner.

It is also possible to use the concentrated (pure) product every 2 weeks, applying it directly to the hair and letting it act for 2 hours. Capillary stimulation through massage is recommended, as the movements assist the blood circulation of the scalp and promote the sealing of the cuticles.

Frizz control and capillary reconstruction

Through a treatment called capillary moisturizing it is possible to recover the strands, giving a lighter, healthier and nourished appearance to the hair. The process can be carried out on the scalp or just in the length of the strands, replenishing the nutrients, treating the damage and sealing the cuticles.

Capillary wetting consists of choosing and applying some 100% vegetable oil. Due to the more dense and viscous consistency of the castor extract, the ideal is to mix it with another product (such as coconut oil) to make it easier to remove. The application must be carried out with dry hair, which may be dirty or clean.

If the process involves the root of the hair, the scalp must be massaged to activate and stimulate blood circulation. Wearing a cap or wrapping a towel helps to intensify hydration. It is recommended to allow the oil to act for at least 2 hours and rinse well.

An easy way to remove all applied oil is to condition it before rinsing the strands. After that, the product will make castor oil less viscous and facilitate complete removal.

Dryness and dandruff

To perform a punctual treatment, apply approximately 1 tablespoon of castor oil to the scalp and massage the region with circular movements.

The movements cause the oil to be naturally heated and to penetrate the pores of the scalp and cuticles more easily.

The product should be left to act for at least 2 hours and rinse the hair, washing it normally.

It is also possible to perform daily hydration by placing 1 scoop of castor extract in the shampoo and mixing well. It is suggested that the washing is done with the massage and stimulation of the scalp during the bath and then the normal rinse to remove the entire product.

Renovated wires

Mix 1 tablespoon of castor oil with 2 tablespoons of argan oil. The compound must be applied to the wires during the night, letting its action take place until the next morning.

To enhance hydration, you can wrap a towel around your head, or use a cap, making your hair more warm.

The next morning, washing takes place normally. The treatment can be done, on average, once a week.

In the skin

Deep hydration

The ideal is to mix the product with other natural oils, such as coconut or almond oil. The ratio can be 1: 1, that is, you can use one spoon of each oil.

For the product to act deeply, it is recommended to wash the skin with warm or hot water so that the pores are opened, applying a layer at night and removing it the other day. The process can be repeated every 15 days.

Daily hydration

Adding a spoonful of castor oil to the cream or body lotion enhances the action of the moisturizer. The combination tends to be more easily absorbed by the skin, which does not have an oily appearance and eliminates the need for rinsing.

Extremely dry and rough spots, such as the heel and sole of the foot, can be softened with the use of compresses with the oil. For this, the castor extract is mixed with another natural extract, such as almond oil. Moistening the cotton, compresses are done for 15 minutes a day.

Soften scars and stretch marks

The daily use of the product helps to soften and disguise scars and stretch marks through deep hydration. For this, the product must be mixed with another natural oil, such as almond oil, in the proportion of 1: 1, that is, 1 spoon of each oil.

The compound should be applied daily on the affected region with circular movements, which facilitate the absorption and penetration of oils into the skin.

In general, it is recommended to use the product at night, before sleeping, and wash the area the next morning.

Hydration of combination and oily skin

Despite the oily consistency of the product, castor extract can be applied to mixed and oily skins without accentuating the problem.

To obtain the benefits, it must be mixed with sunflower or coconut oil, in a ratio of 1: 5, that is, 1 spoon of castor oil to 5 of sunflower oil.

The mixture can be applied directly to the skin, including the face, with circular movements or with a moistened cotton. Approximately 2 hours after the massage, the skin should be rinsed.

The ideal is that, before carrying out the treatment, the skin should be washed with neutral and astringent soap. The day after application, the cleaning process must be repeated, favoring the control of oiliness.

Cleansing of skin and acne

The oil helps in cleaning and hydrating the skin, also reducing the appearance of acne.

After washing your face with hot water, which promotes the opening of your pores, you should moisten a cotton wool with a small amount of castor oil and apply it on the skin of your face or the region affected by acne . With circular and light movements, the oil is stimulated to penetrate the pores and facilitate the removal of impurities.

After that, you can remove the excess oil with a clean, dry cotton or wash your face with neutral soap.

On the nails

To make your nails stronger, protected and healthier, apply a layer of oil one hour before you do your nails or daily, at night. The ideal is to deposit the product over the entire surface and also on the cuticle.

The application has better results if it is done without the use of enamels, as they form a layer and decrease the penetration of the oil.

In the eyebrow

Care should be taken with the application due to the eye area, which is very sensitive.

To apply the oil carefully and prevent it from dripping, you can use an empty tube of mascara or purchase an eyebrow brush at cosmetic stores.

In the case of reusing the tube, the packaging and bristles need to be soaked and rinsed with abundant water in order to remove all particles from the eyelash mask .

The skin and eyebrow must be cleaned with cotton and make-up remover, promoting correct hygiene. Wait at least 5 minutes before applying the oil for all the makeup remover to evaporate or dry, avoiding reactions between the products.

Insert a small amount of the extract and castor in the empty tube or moisten the brush directly in the oil, taking care that it does not accumulate in excess in the bristles and may run down the face.

Carefully apply the liquid to the eyebrow area, as if combing the strands following the direction of growth.

The product can be washed 2 hours after application with warm or cold water and neutral soap.

In the beard

The application can be done 3 times a week when it comes in direct contact with the skin or up to 5 times if it is applied only to the beard strands.

The oil should be used in a small amount, about 1 tablespoon, with circular movements.

It is necessary that the skin is clean, preferably with neutral soap. It is also important to dry the hair well, ensuring that the penetration of the compost is efficient.

If the oil is concentrated only on the beard strands, hydration can be done before bed and the face must be washed the next day. If applied directly to the skin, the extract should be removed after 2 hours, using warm water and neutral soap.

Therapeutic uses

Pain relief

Castor oil is abundant in ricinoleic acid, known as omega 9. This fatty acid provides analgesic and anti-inflammatory actions, acting as an antibacterial and can alleviate pain. For this, the application can be done through compresses and massage in the region affected by muscle pain or inflammation.

Laxative

Castor oil can be indicated in cases of constipation , if there is no suspicion of related diseases (such as intestinal obstruction or Crohn’s disease ), and preceding examinations such as colonoscopy .

In general, the intake of 15mL (one tablespoon) is recommended, with performance between 1 and 3 hours. The oil promotes irritation of the intestinal mucosa and the accumulation of water in the organ, stimulating purgative action. The use for laxative purposes should be indicated by a doctor , as it may pose health risks.

Side effects

In general, castor oil has no side effects when used properly. Possible adverse reactions include allergy to the compound, which cause irritation, itching and redness of the skin or scalp.

In contact with hair strands, the product can interfere with oiliness, changing density and volume.

If applied close to the mucous membranes (such as lips and nose) or in the eye area, the natural extract can cause irritation, developing an inflammatory reaction.

In the laxative action, the effect may be accompanied by cramps, abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, dehydration and irritation of the colon. Symptoms tend to decrease within 5 hours if no overdose is found.

When there is prolonged or frequent use, even at the recommended dosages, the oil can alter the intestinal flow, causing damage to the intestinal wall and problems with nutrient absorption.

Allergic test

Before using the compound, it is recommended to perform an allergic test, ensuring that there will be no adverse effects with the product. The evaluation, called a contact test, can be done with the application of a minimum amount of oil in the forearm region. You should wait 24 hours and assess the region.

In allergic cases, redness, itching, blisters, peeling and changes in the skin surface can appear. If no signs are found, as well as any internal reaction, including shortness of breath, tachycardia or dizziness, the product can be used in a cosmetic way without allergic risks.

Contraindications

Castor extract is contraindicated for pregnant women, nursing mothers, young children and individuals who have irritable bowel and intestinal obstruction.

Especially for pregnant women, the product can induce contraction of the uterus, causing premature birth or, in the initial pregnancy, lead to abortion. Cases have also been reported in which oil is related to the evacuation of meconium while still in the mother’s womb.

Meconium is a pasty substance found in the baby’s intestine, which is usually eliminated within 24 hours after birth.

In lactating women, the oil can interfere in the composition of breast milk, also having effects on the baby, such as changes in intestinal transit.

Where to buy

Castor oil for aesthetic purposes can be found in cosmetics, handling and natural products.

Already medicinal castor oil , for laxative use, is found in pharmacies and must be purchased under medical advice. In Consulta Remédios you can find the best deals on online networks that deliver throughout Brazil.

Attention!

NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.


Used for decades, castor oil is known to many due to its possible therapeutic properties. However, there is no scientific evidence that the product acts incisively on pathologies.

Studies do not indicate harm or damage due to use, except in contraindicated cases or in overdoses. When combined with other treatments suggested in the medical literature, the substance can have positive effects on the body.

Thus, castor extract, as a medicinal option, can act concomitantly with other medications. In addition, like many natural extracts, castor oil is a natural cosmetic option that has become popular. For aesthetic purposes, the product demonstrates powerful and affordable properties.

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