Castor Oil

Ricinus communis

(castor) seed oil


In many ways, castor oil is a very unique substance. While most of us are familiar with its use as a remedy for constipation, folk healers around the world have used castor oil to treat a wide variety of conditions. Its effectiveness is due part to its peculiar chemical composition.

Ricinoleic acid, a monounsaturated, 18-carbon fatty acid, is unusual in that it has a hydroxyl functional group on the twelfth carbon. This functional group causes rinoleic acid (and castor oil) to be unusually polar, and also allows chemical derivatization that is not practical with most other seed oils. It is the hydroxyl group which makes castor oil and ricinoleic acid valuable as chemical feedstocks. Compared to other oils which lack the hydroxyl group, castor oil commands a high price.

Castor Oil

Chemical Composition

Castor oil and its derivatives have application in the manufacturing of soaps, lubricants, hydraulic and brake fluids, paints, dyes, coatings, inks, cold resistant plastics, waxes and polishes, nylon, pharmaceuticals and perfumes.

Castor Oil in Ayurveda

The Indian System of Medicine, Ayurveda, recognizes castor oil to be a wonderful panacea for several health concerns. Botanically derived from the Ricinus communis (Linn.), castor oil belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. It is an evergreen shrub, which grows wildly in warmer temperatures. All over the world, castor oil is recognised for its remarkable, many say divine, healing properties. In Ayurveda, castor oil is called Eranda taila or Gandharva Hasta (hand of celestial being) taila; in the West, it is known as Palma Christi (hand of Christ). According to Ayurveda, castor oil has pungent and sweet tastes, heating energy, pungent post- digestive effect, is heavy to digest and pacifies Vata, and increases Pitta and Kapha. Its actions are purgative, demulcent, analgesic and nervine. Cold- pressed castor oil collected from the seeds of the plant is an amazing natural multi-spectrum healing properties for various kinds of ailments.

Traditional or Holistic Medicines

The use of cold pressed castor oil in folk medicine predates government medical regulations. Cold pressed castor oil is tasteless and odourless when pure.

Ricinoleic acid has been shown to be effective in preventing the growth of numerous species of viruses, bacteria, yeasts and molds. (J Am Oil Chem Soc 61;37.323-325.)  Castor oil's antimicrobial activity, while very impressive, comprises only a small part of the story concerning this mysterious oil.

We also found early reports of nursing mothers in the Canary Islands using poultices made from the leaves of the castor bean. They applied the poultice to their breasts to increase milk secretion to relieve inflammation and milk stagnation in the mammary glands. Applying the poultice to the abdominal area promoted normal menstruation.

Castor Oil Applied Topically on the Skin

When castor oil is absorbed through the skin, several extraordinary events take place. The lymphocyte count of the blood increases. This is a result of a positive influence on the thymus gland and/or lymphatic tissue. The flow of lymph increases throughout the body. This speeds up the removal of toxins surrounding the cells and reduces the size of swollen lymph nodes. The end result is a general overall improvement in organ function with a lessening of fatigue and depression. As toxicity is reduced, the pH of the saliva becomes less acidic, indicating improved health. The Peyer's patches in the small intestine become more efficient in their absorption of fatty acids, which are essential for the formation of hormones and other components necessary for growth and repair.

Known Healing Benefits of Castor Oil:

Amazing results can be obtained by simply applying Castor Oil directly to the skin.  Castor Oil is an ingredient of Pranacea Restorative Salve.

        Skin and Hair Benefits:

Burns: Castor oil is very effective in healing minor wounds, burns and cuts, and it soothes the skin.

Dry Skin: The regular use of castor oil topically is beneficial in healing scaly and dry skin.

Skin Itch: The external application of castor oil to the skin relieves skin itch and redness.

Chapped Lips: A natural lip balm, the application of castor oil soften the lips and effectively reduces cracks in the lips.

Fungal and bacterial infections: Castor oil prevents fungal infections of the foot and reduces itching due to sweating between the toes.

Facial Oil: Gently applying castor oil on the face results in beautiful, smooth, shiny skin and enhances glow.

Cracked Heels: The regular application of castor oil on cracked heels and chapped hands restores moisture and softens the skin.

Hyperkeratosis: The regular application of castor oil reduces discoloration of the skin.

After Shave: The application of castor oil after shaving enhances smooth, soft, lustrous skin and soothes shaving burns and cuts.

Skin Ulcers: Castor oil is very useful in healing any type of external ulcers.

Bedsores: The external application of castor oil is beneficial in treating bedsores.

Chilblain: Castor oil is beneficial in treating problems related with cold and moisture; it heals scratches and inflammation and soothes itching on the hands and feet.

Corns: The frequent and regular application of castor oil on corn spots will soften corns and reduce pain, allowing for healing without surgery.

Draw out Styes in the eye: Pour a small amount into the eye and allow it to circulate around the inside of the eyelid. Note: that most bottles of castor oil indicate the oil is to be kept away from the eyes.

Eyebrows: The regular application of castor oil promotes clear, soft, shiny eyebrows, and prevents thinning of the eyebrows.

Hair Loss: The application of castor oil to the scalp with gentle massage helps prevent hair loss and improves hair’s luster.

Nails: The regular application of warm castor oil around the nail bed is beneficial in correcting crooked and cracked nails and making them strong and healthy.

Pimples and Black Spots: Castor oil is beneficial in treating acne, rosacea, pimples and black spots.


  1. Skin inflamation.

  2. Skin disorders.

  3. Chronic pruritus (skin itch).

  4. Cuts and Abrasions.

  5. Ringworm.

  6. Wounds.

  7. Abdominal stretch marks (prevention).

  8. Bursitis.

  9. Sebaceous cysts.

  1. Warts.

  2. Senile lentigo ("liver" or "aging" spots).

  3. Muscle strains.

  4. Ligament sprains.

  5. Keratosis (non-cancerous, wart-like skin growths).

  6. Fungal-infected finger and toenails.

  7. Acne.

Note: The recorded lists of known healing benefits with Castor Oil application either topically, internally or Castor Oil Packs is endless.  In the event to keep the information relevant I have limited these benefits to the topical application of skin and hair.

Castor Oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the castor bean (technically castor seed as the castor plant, Ricinus communis, is not a member of the bean family). Castor oil is a colourless to very pale yellow liquid with mild or no odour or taste. Its boiling point is 313° C (595° F) and its density is 961 kg/m3. [1]  It is a triglyceride in which approximately ninety percent of fatty acid chains are ricinoleic acid. Oleic and linoleic acids are the other significant components.[2]







  1. 1.Aldrich Handbook of Fine Chemicals and Laboratory Equipment, Sigma-Aldrich, 2003. NNFC “Castor”

  2. 2. The National Non-Food Crops Centre, Retrieved on 2010-09-09