Mineral oil has a wide range of benefits and uses including better digestive health, improved skin conditions and improved strength of hair. But it is primarily used in ways that don’t directly relate to health. Mineral oil is commonly used to remove stains, sanitize surfaces in the home, protect tools from rust, improve the odor of your home, eliminate stuck-on substances and even seal wood furniture. There are a number of side effects associated with mineral oil such as rectal bleeding, diarrhea, and complications of pregnancy, pre-existing medical conditions, and medications you might be taking. Extended or long-term use of this oil is also not recommended. Due to the powerful nature of this oil, you should speak to your doctor before adding this natural remedy to your daily or weekly routine.
What is Mineral Oil?
Mineral oil is a natural byproduct of the refining process for crude oil as it is turned into gasoline or other petroleum products. Given the size of the global oil market, mineral oil is readily available and relatively inexpensive. The term for this oil, however, has been used to describe many different substances over the years, but a crude oil refining byproduct is the most common form.
This oil is odorless and colorless and possesses significant levels of higher alkanes and cycloalkanes that are eliminated during the refining process. This oil can be found in cosmetics, medicines and preservatives, and commercial, cleaning, and food products around the world. Although the health benefits of this oil are somewhat limited, its versatile nature makes it a must-have in the home.
What is Mineral Oil Good For?
Prevents Dry Skin
This oil provides a natural sealant for the skin, helping to lock in moisture and prevent dry skin, which can make skin more susceptible to inflammation, infection and a generally unhealthy appearance.
If you suffer from conditions like psoriasis, eczema or other inflammatory problems on the skin, the emollient and moisturizing nature of this oil can help to clear up those infections and promote faster healing.
The alkanes in mineral oil are particularly effective at cutting through other oils and chemical mixtures, so when gently applied to the face, it works as an excellent makeup remover. Be careful when using this oil near the eyes and other mucus membranes, as it can cause irritation.
The most well-known use of mineral oil is to clear up a blocked gastrointestinal system. It can lubricate the digestive tract and stimulate peristaltic motion, which can induce bowel movements and eliminate symptoms of constipation. It can also stop the stomach walls from absorbing liquid, which prevents hardening of stool, which is a major cause of constipation, bloating and cramping.
Clears up Stomach Disorders
Inflammation in the gut can be just as serious as constipation, but the hydrating and soothing nature of mineral oil can coat the stomach, preventing further irritation from food or bacterial infection, and helping to clear up any stomach disorders.
By providing a moisturizing boost to the scalp, mineral oil can help eliminate dry skin on the scalp, which will effectively end your battle with dandruff. Carefully massage the oil into your hair, focusing on the roots and scalp, and try mixing the oil with other hair-boosting essential oils for even more pronounced effects.
Mineral oil can also help improve the shine and appearance of your hair by successfully neutralizing frizzy, dry hair, as well as split ends. When too much mineral oil is applied to the hair, it can have negative side effects. Remember, your hair needs to breathe too!
Uses of Mineral Oil
Mineral oil can be used for countless things, from fixing a cutting board to preventing rust on your bike, as well as removing odors, cleaning sticky surfaces and neutralizing airborne pathogens. The list of commercial, industrial, biomedical and automotive uses for this oil is also impressively long!
Some people choose to rub mineral oil on everything from cutting boards to home appliances, as it does provide a protective layer that makes it harder for irritants, pathogens, and pollutants to take hold. When mixed with other essential oils, which it often is, mineral oil can provide a pleasant scent and provide other antibacterial and antiseptic properties to these surfaces.
Mineral oil is popularly used to seal various surfaces; in the same way that it can seal moisture into the skin, it can also fill in cracks in cutting boards and wooden furniture, helping to improve the shine and prevent bacteria and other microbes from taking root.
Whether it is a bike, your garden tools, lawn furniture or the bumper of your car, rust is a constant threat to the sturdiness and quality of the metal objects. Covering these objects with mineral oil can form a protective shield against the elements, improving their shine and extending their life.
Stuck-on substances around the house, sticker residue on the fridge, or mysterious stains from your children can be very difficult to clean off, but mineral oil quickly breaks down these bonds and works as a natural gunk remover, making it crucial to have around the house!
Squeaky stairs, doors, hinges, and drawers can be annoying, but applying some mineral oil provides natural lubrication to keep your home, and every floorboard in it, nice and quiet.
Mineral Oil Side Effects
Along with its versatility, mineral oil also has potential side effects, and cause diarrhea, rectal bleeding, nausea, bloating, cramping, skin irritation, rashes, swelling and shortness of breath, as well as dangerous complications for people with various medical conditions.
- Allergic Reactions – Some people have reported severe allergic reactions when using mineral oil as a topical application, specifically if they have sensitive skin. This can come in the form of inflammation, redness, swelling, itching, hives or a rash. More serious symptoms include throat swelling, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest when this oil is consumed. If you experience any of these symptoms, discontinue use immediately. It is always best to test a small amount of this oil on a patch of skin to see if you have any negative reactions before using it in a larger area.
- Gastrointestinal Distress – Due to the strong effects of this oil on the gastrointestinal system, reported side effects often affect that area of the body, particularly when too much is consumed. This can include bloating, cramping, increased constipation, nausea, vomiting and rectal bleeding. If these side effects persist, speak to your doctor.
- Pregnancy – Research on the use of mineral oil while pregnant is limited, and therefore, it is not recommended for internal consumption, although minimal topical use is believed to be safe.
- Medical Conditions – There are a number of medical conditions that can be exacerbated by the use of mineral oil, such as heart disease, kidney issues, anorexia, bulimia, appendicitis or chronic bowel conditions. Furthermore, if you have recently used a laxative or have noticed a change in your bowels, don’t begin to use this oil.
- Extended Use – Long-term internal use of mineral oil is not recommended, as it can cause your bowel function to be impaired. For acute constipation or gastric distress, this oil should help, but if it is not effective, do not increase your dose or use the oil consistently for more than 1 week.