Ironically, a plant that seems to have so much healing potential contains one of the deadliest poisons known, a protein called ricin. Consuming just one or two beans could kill you. However, ricin is not in the oil! The healing part is the fat called Ricinoleic acid. Ricinoleic acid, is believed to be effective in preventing the growth of viruses, bacteria, yeasts, and molds. Cayce, along with many others utilized the castor oil for the following conditions.
Constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome (I.B.S.)
Increasing eliminations, lymphatic circulation, and relaxation
Stimulating the liver, gall bladder, lacteal duct circulation, ileum, and cecum (beginning of large intestine where the appendix is located)
Dissolving and removing adhesions, fibroids, lesions, and gallstones
Relieving pain. It may compare to CBD oils for treating painful areas of the body.
Reducing flatulence, inflammation, nausea, and swelling
Improving intestinal assimilation
Coordinating liver-kidney function
Helping skin conditions such as acne, and eczema
Its use as a sedative for the nervous system
Helping the immune system
Helping asthma when applied over the lung area.
Thickening hair or male pattern baldness
The Castor Oil Pack
Typically, the best way to apply the oil is to saturate some cotton flannel so that it is wet but not dripping and then place the flannel against the abdomen, liver, and solar plexus area. To prevent the oil from ruining bedsheets and clothing a sheet of plastic or a plastic garbage bag placed over the area, and then follow that with an old towel, and then with a heat pack over the entire pack for 1-2 hours each day is the best therapeutic approach. More castor bean oil can be added to the cotton flannel as needed for each treatment.
How does it work?
The skin being the primary barrier in the body, has an active role in immune functioning and specifically the T-lymphocytes that reside in the skin’s epidermis and dermis. It is believed that Castor oil may trigger the T-cells in the skin to activate a general immune system reaction throughout the lymphatics. The messengers for this systemic reaction may be prostanoids which are precursors to beneficial anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. The Journal of Naturopathic Medicine published a double-blind study involving 36 healthy subjects that measured total lymphocytes before and after castor oil application. Those doing the castor oil application of a minimum of two hours, produced an increase of T lymphocytes over those that did not. The increase in lymphocytes could be the effect of the castor bean oil has on the Peyer’s patches in the ileum as it is absorbed through the skin. Peyer’s patches are aggregated lymphatic nodules encapsulated by a mucous membrane and it is believed about twenty to thirty of these patches ranging in size from 2-20 centimeters are responsible for the increase in lymphocytes. According to Cayce the Peyer’s patches produce a substance that facilitates electrical contact between the autonomic and cerebrospinal nervous system and help balance the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system, both halves of the autonomic nervous system. This could explain why the castor bean oil may have a sedative effect on the nervous system especially if the pack is placed over the solar plexus where there is a large concentration of nerves from both parts of the autonomic nervous system. Peyer’s Patches are a smaller part of the gut associated lymphoid tissue also known as G.A.L.T., which is believed to be an integral part of our innate immune system.
Castor bean oil also has been shown to increase nitric oxide (which increases circulation) and glutathione (a powerful antioxidant) in the body.
*The only time you would consider taking castor bean oil orally is for constipation. The recommended dose for an adult would be one tablespoon to start, and with a maximum of 4 tablespoons. For a child aged 2-11, I would recommend a half a tablespoon and for an infant no more than a couple of drops. Taken on an empty stomach you would expect to see a bowel movement in 2-6 hours.
Cautions and Contraindications
Applying a little castor bean oil to the skin before using a castor oil pack would be useful to find out if someone is allergic or sensitive to the oil. It should not be used by women who are pregnant or who are menstruating!
Also, there might be some contraindications if you are taking any blood thinners, antibiotics, heart, or bone medications.
Final Thoughts and Fun Facts
Dr. Marisol Teijeiro, a naturopathic doctor has a website www.drmarisol.com . She sells castor bean oil in a glass bottle, an appealing change for what I have seen in the past and offers a lot more information about castor bean oil. No doubt this is a therapy that should be given more consideration for a variety of ailments.
Some interesting facts that I came to learn about regarding the names of the castor bean plant: The Latin name is Ricinus Communis and was given that name because Ricinus is the latin word for tick. If you look at the seed of the Castor oil plant, you can see why that name was chosen. The Castor oil plant is also known as Palma Cristi because the leaves supposedly look like or because the plant healed like the hand of Christ. How did it get the name Castor Bean Plant? It came from its use as a replacement for castoreum, a perfume base made from the dried perineal glands of the beaver. Castor is latin for beaver.