15 Amazing Benefits of Castor Oil

by Kiran Patil last updated -

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The health benefits of castor oil include boosting immunity, skin and hair care, and relieving rheumatism, menstrual disorders, and constipation. It also helps in inducing labor and improving lactation.

What is Castor Oil?

Castor oil is a tasteless and odorless vegetable oil that is extracted by pressing of the seeds of the castor plant, scientifically known as Ricinus communis. Castor seeds are rich in triglyceride, which is what makes them so valuable. They also contain small amounts of a toxin called ricin, which is potentially deadly in concentrated or excess amounts.

About half a century ago, castor oil was a nightmare for many children, and there were sufficient reasons for that. It was extensively used as a purgative, and most peculiarly, as a medicine against almost all ailments in children and the elderly. These possible illnesses ranged from a cough, cold, and fever, to constipation, and indigestion.

Castor oil was also used to treat other problems such as ingestion of any poisonous material, tapeworms and roundworms, and skin diseases. Stomach malfunctioning was believed to be the root of all the problems. So, a thorough cleansing of your digestive system would eliminate them altogether. All the medicinal uses of this oil are mostly due to its germicidal, toxic, purgative, and disinfectant properties.

Health Benefits of Castor Oil

Let’s have a look at what this powerful oil can do for us; the health benefits of castor oil include the following:

Boosts Immunity

Castor oil improves the lymphatic function, blood flow, and thymus gland health. According to recent research, it promotes the production of lymphocytes in the body which helps in fighting the toxins and other bacteria present in the body. Thanks to its ricinoleic acid content and immunity-boosting effects, it is often used as an effective purgative, thereby also preventing inflammation.

A jar of castor seed oil, fresh castor fruit, and a wooden spoon of castor seeds on a dark background

Increases Circulation

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, in a recent research feature, have connected a healthy lymphatic system with other organs of the body. As castor oil is able to keep the lymphatic system healthy, it helps in promoting circulation from the heart to the rest of the body through small capillaries and arteries. This helps to detoxify our body by bringing oxygen to our cells.

Skin Care

Castor seed oil contains undecylenic acid, which has germicidal and disinfectant properties. It is useful for treating skin diseases and skin ulcers, particularly those which are caused due to bacterial or fungal infections. Castor oil is also used to protect burns and wounds from infections. It is extensively used as a skin care agent as it helps in treating acne, pigmentation, and sunburn, and preventing blemishes and stretch marks along with dry skin.

You can use castor oil for the skin in a number of ways. If you are experiencing irritation or inflammation, clean and wash your face thoroughly with warm water, which will help open your pores. Then, apply a light layer of castor oil on the skin, or you can mix it in with any carrier oil, which is often easier. The best carrier oils are olive oil, almond oil, and coconut oil.

Increases Libido

Castor oil helps in the balancing of hormones by absorbing the fat molecules in the body. A better blood flow to the sexual organs helps in increasing the libido or the sexual drive. By regulating the hormones it also reduces PMS symptoms, anxiety, and mood swings.

Induces Labor

A study by Dr. Gary Rothberger, Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, NY, USA, revealed that castor seed oil has been historically used for its amazing benefits to induce labor – as it helps in uterus contractions. This ability of castor oil is attributed to the presence of ricinoleic acid in it, which helps in activating the EP3 prostanoid receptors in the uterus.

You can use about 4 tablespoons of the tonic, as this is believed to induce the beginnings of labor in pregnant women. Castor oil is also believed to help with constipation during pregnancy, as it is often used as a laxative. You should always check with a medical professional before trying an alternative therapy, particularly with castor oil.

Treats Fungal Infections

Being an antifungal, castor oil helps in fighting toe fungus, moles, cysts, ringworms, and other fungal infections.

Eases Constipation

Castor seed oil is most widely used as a laxative (better to call it a purgative). The presence of ricinoleic acid helps in the digestion process by ensuring regular bowel movements and also promotes nutrient absorption. It is thus a very effective treatment for extreme cases of constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), cramping, edema, and leaky gut syndrome. It also helps in balancing the gut bacteria.

Health benefits of castor oil - infographic

Slows the Progression of Rheumatic Arthritis

A 2015 study titled, ‘Effectiveness of castor oil massage with a hot application on knee joint pain among women’ suggests that castor oil helps lower the risk and slow the progression of bone problems like osteoarthritis, knee pain, and joint pain. The ricinoleic, oleic, linoleic, and other fatty acids found in castor oil are very effective in treating the symptoms of rheumatism, arthritis, gout, and joint pain. When used in a massage, they easily penetrate through the skin. Castor oil is also mixed with other medicines for rheumatism to facilitate their penetration and enhance their effects. It also helps with muscle soreness.

Hair Care

The germicidal, insecticidal, and fungicidal properties of ricin and ricinoleic acid present in castor oil protect the scalp and hair from microbial and fungal infections, the two prime causes of hair loss. In addition to this, the fatty acids in it nourish the hair and prevent the scalp from drying by retaining moisture. In addition, it also prevents premature graying of hair and dandruff and promotes conditioning.

Treats Back Pain

Castor oil’s therapeutic qualities help in naturally relieving backache and stiffness of the body.

Helps in Birth Control

Castor seed oil contains a toxin called ricin (a protein) which, if administered in very low dosages, acts as a germicidal substance. Due to this property, it is also used as a spermicide in spermicidal gels and lotions.

Note: If you are pregnant and trying to induce labor, castor oil can be safe, but consuming too much of it can also induce early labor.

Relieves Menstrual Disorders

Ricinoleic acid, present in castor seed oil, is a natural emmenagogue and stimulates menstruation in cases of delayed, painful, or obstructed menses. It also helps relieve pain during menstruation.

Stimulates Lactation

Most of the substances which are considered emmenagogues are also galactagogues by nature, meaning that they stimulate the secretion of milk. Castor oil, apart from easing and enhancing milk flow, also increases the quantity of milk due to the presence of fatty acids in it. However, its cold-compressed form should only be taken in low doses to avoid any adverse effects on infants.

Eye Care

The anti-inflammatory property of castor oil helps in improving the symptoms of early cataracts, relieving dry eye symptoms, preventing eye infections, and getting rid of those unsightly dark circles beneath your eyes.

Other Benefits

There are many other benefits of castor seed oil that include minimizing the factors that cause migraines, promoting good sleep, treating symptoms of colic among babies, preventing corns and cracked heels, and treating mouth sores and chapped lips.


You can use castor seed oil in a number of ways, depending on what health issues you are dealing with.

  • Castor oil can be consumed in small quantities as a laxative and to coat your stomach in case of nausea or chronic vomiting.
  • It can be used topically on skin and hair, in order to increase the luster and shine.
  • It is often used on wounds to speed healing and prevent infections

Side Effects

Castor oil can have a few side effects including the following:

  • Pregnancy: If administered to pregnant women in higher dosages, it may also cause abortion. However, this second mode of birth control can be fatal for the mother too and is rarely recommended. It can also cause excessive pelvic contractions which can lead to a miscarriage or premature delivery.
  • Skin: The skin can sometimes break out when exposed to castor oil as the concentration of chemicals in castor oil make it dangerous.

Other Side Effects:

  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Hallucinations
  • Sore throat, chest pain, and difficulty in breathing

Where to buy Castor Oil?

Castor oil can be purchased at a majority of grocery and home stores, including Target and Walgreens. Being a multi-purpose substance, many demographics require castor oil for various health concerns and applications. You can buy castor oil at most health food stores, specialty cosmetic stores, and alternative health distributors.

What are the benefits of Jamaican black castor oil?

Jamaican black castor oil is predominantly known for its impact on hair growth. If you are experiencing hair loss, or if it seems like your hair is thinning, you can topically apply Jamaican black castor oil to your hair and get your hair looking back to normal in no time.

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About the Author

Kiran Patil is the founder of Organic Facts. He has a keen interest in health, nutrition, and organic living. He completed his B.Tech and M. Tech (Chemical Engineering) from IIT Bombay and has been actively writing about health and nutrition since over past 12 years. When not working he likes to trek and do gardening.

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