Castor Oil

Castor oil, produced from castor beans, has long been considered to be of important commercial value primarily for the manufacturing of soaps, lubricants, and coatings, among others. Global castor oil production is concentrated primarily in a small geographic region of Gujarat in Western India. This region is favorable due to its labor-intensive cultivation method and subtropical climate conditions. Entrepreneurs and castor processors in the United States and South America also cultivate castor beans but are faced with the challenge of achieving high castor oil production efficiency, as well as obtaining the desired oil quality. In this manuscript, we provide a detailed analysis of novel processing methods involved in castor oil production. We discuss novel processing methods by explaining specific processing parameters involved in castor oil production.

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Description

Benefits and Uses

1. Improves Immune Function

One of the major reasons castor oil has strong immune-enhancing effects is because it supports the body’s lymphatic system. The most significant role of the lymphatic system, which is spread throughout the whole body in small tubular structures, is that it absorbs and removes excess fluids, proteins and waste materials from our cells.

Castor oil may be able to help improve lymphatic drainage, blood flow, thymus gland health and other immune system functions.

For this reason, the oil and other parts of the castor plant have been used in traditional systems of medicine for the following health conditions:

  • Abdominal disorders
  • Arthritis
  • Backache
  • Constipation
  • Muscle aches
  • Parasitic infections
  • Chronic headaches
  • Gallbladder pain
  • PMS
  • Rheumatism
  • Sleep problems like insomnia

A small, double-blind study published in the Journal of Naturopathic Medicine found that adults who used abdominal castor oil packs on their abdomens had significant increases in the production of lymphocytes compared with patients using placebo packs. Lymphocytes are the immune system’s natural “disease-fighters” that attack outside invaders such as toxins, bacteria and other perceived threats.

The lymphatic system also impacts the circulatory and digestive systems, which is why the oil is sometimes used to support heart health and resolve issues like constipation.

2. Boosts Circulation

A healthy lymphatic system and proper blood flow go hand in hand. When the lymphatic system fails (or edema develops, which is the retention of fluid and toxins), it’s much more likely someone will have circulatory issues.

This is due to the fact that the lymphatic circulatory system works directly with the cardiovascular circulatory system to keep blood and lymphatic fluid levels in an optimal balance.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “A growing body of evidence reveals that the lymphatic system influences the health of multiple organs, including the heart, lung, and brain.”  So castor’s oil ability to positively affect our lymphatic systems likely means better overall circulation and a health boost to major organs like our hearts.

3. Moisturizes Skin and Boosts Wound Healing

Castor oil is completely natural and free of synthetic chemicals (as long as you use pure 100 percent pure oil, of course), yet it’s rich in skin-boosting ingredients like fatty acids.

Applying this oil to dry or irritated skin can help to discourage dryness and keep it well moisturized, since it prevents water loss.

It can also help with wound and pressure ulcer healing thanks to its moisturizing as well as antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. It mixes well with other ingredients like almond, olive and coconut oil, all of which have unique benefits for skin.

Lab studies have shown that castor oil is effective against many types of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Out of all the staphylococcal bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus is considered the most dangerous and can cause mild to serious skin infections and other concerning staph infection symptoms.

4. Can Help Induce Labor

Castor oil is a time-honored natural remedy for inducing labor. For centuries, pregnant women at full term have taken it orally to help speed up uterus contractions.

In fact, it’s one of the most popular substances taken in a non-medical setting to induce labor.

According to studies, the reason castor oil can work to induce labor is due to the fact that the ricinoleic acid in the oil can activate EP3 prostanoid receptors in the uterus. Some animal studies have shown that active compounds in the oil attach to the molecules that makes muscles — in both the intestines and uterus — contract.

A 2018 observational case control study found that “The use of castor oil is related to a higher probability of labor initiation within 24 hours. Castor oil can be considered a safe non-pharmacological method for labor induction.”

In addition, the full-term women study subjects (between 40 and 41 weeks) who took castor oil had a lower incidence of Caesarean section.

One downside of using castor oil to help with delivery (and the reason it’s not commonly used in hospitals) is that some women feel nauseated after taking it.

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