Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Castor oil – More than just a laxative

The valuable castor oil was already used by the Egyptians more than 4000 years ago. Castor oil has been used both for starting oil lamps, for hair care and as a remedy for open wounds. Last but not least, the laxative effect was already recognized in those years. Originally native to northeast Africa and Asia, the castor bean tree is now also used for oil production in Central Europe.

To be used with caution

Ricin should be used with caution due to its highly toxic effects. The whole Ricinus communis is poisonous. 1g of the substance can cost the life of a thousand people. In case of poisoning, a latency period of several hours is followed by death by respiratory paralysis or heart failure at the latest 72 hours after oral ingestion, injection or inhalation. Not infrequently in history there were cases of murder in which ricin played a major role. An antidote is not yet known. However, the method of obtaining castor oil is all the more significant.

Castor oil is extracted by cold pressing

Cold-pressed oil is used when raw materials are not heated and a temperature of over 50°C is not exceeded during pressing. Most of the ricin remains in the proteinaceous press cake, as it is not soluble in cold temperatures. The oil obtained (10-15% of the starting material) contains only minor amounts of ricin of max. 5%.

The applications of castor oil

In addition to the fact that the castor tree is a popular ornamental plant due to its reddish spiny fruits visually, residues of the oil extraction after a detoxification process are used as a pesticide or in the animal feed industry.

Castor oil occupies a special place in the cosmetics industry. Castor oil is particularly viscous, alcohol soluble, re-lubricating and water repellent. These characteristics make it an all-round remedy for the application of main problems. Castor oil can promote the elasticity of scarring and help treat acne and wrinkles. In the meantime it can be found proportionally in many hair care products, bath additives or even lipsticks. It ensures good adhesion of the product to the skin and leaves a natural shine.

The medicine relies mainly on internal application. Straight one with Obstipation unfolds it its laxative effect. The lipases of the small intestine release ricinoleic acid. As a result, the stool is enriched with electrolytes and water and becomes softer in consistency. Castor oil is used for acute support of the own intestinal function.

Risk group

The intake of castor oil should always be controlled and after consultation with a doctor. Basically it is to be paid attention to the fact that the welfare oil is not taken on a long-term basis and is used with intestinal obstruction, gall stone illnesses or further internal inflammations. In case of pregnancy the intake in the last months of pregnancy can lead to premature contractions. Last but not least, the oil should not be used at all in children under 10 – 12 years of age.