Castor oil is a vegetable oil used widely in cosmetic and medical sciences.
The oil is extracted from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant which is often seen in the tropical areas of Asia and Africa. It is a safe ingredient and has a range of properties from being an anti-inflammatory to being an antimicrobial and moisturizing agent. It is also commonly used in many household products especially paints.
What Is It ?
Castor oil is a clear pale yellow liquid.
It is made up of a number of fatty acids – a typical composition is ricinoleic acid (87%), linoleic acid (4%), oleic acid (2.8%), stearic acid (1.2%) and palmitic acid (1%).
In medicine it is used to treat digestive issues where it acts as a laxative. Castor oil breaks down in the gut, especially the small intestine to produce ricinoleic acid which helps digestion. In some Ayurvedic medicines it is described as ’removing the stagnations from the body’. Unfortunately it is also associated with punishment because too much consumption of causes diarrhoea which has been used to humiliate prisoners.
It helps to moisturise the skin and is regularly included in skin lotions as an emollient. It is also a massage oil with the bonus of detoxifying and soothing the skin. In fact it is ideal for nourishing dry skin.
Castor oil is often used to treat eyebrows. It reduces the loss of the hairs and helps the growth of further hair. It also appears to protect eyelashes when applied.