Castor oil is a colourless vegetable oil with no distinctive taste, yet it has many uses. Manufacturers add it to packaging to prevent the growth of mould. The food industry adds it to foodstuffs as a preservative. Castor oil can also be a useful addition to your medicine cabinet at home. Drugstores sell castor oil as a laxative and for the treatment of skin problems. This is in accordance with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that classifies castor oil as safe and effective. Further, alternative medicine practitioners such as naturopaths employ castor oil to treat many ailments.
Take castor oil orally to relieve constipation and stomach upsets. The usual dose is one tsp for children and one tbsp for adults. The oil takes approximately four to six hours to work. The purging effects of the oil can be dramatic. If the oil causes internal pain, stop using it. In any case, first read the instructions that come with the oil.
Rub castor oil on to areas of the skin affected by the following problems: bacterial infections, bursitis, fungal infections, itching, keratosis, ringworm, sebaceous cysts, sprains and warts. Castor oil contains a large amount of ricinoleic acid. This helps stop the development of moulds, bacteria and viruses, and explains why castor oil can be an effective treatment for skin problems. Pregnant women can also rub the oil into their abdomen to prevent stretch marks.
Massage castor oil into the body. Naturopaths believe that if you massage the oil along the paths of the body's lymph system, you can help to expel toxins. One of the lymph drainage paths is the spine. To achieve the most benefit from massaging with castor oil, you should consult a naturopath.
Create a castor oil pack. Place three square pieces of natural wool or cotton together. Pour on castor oil. The wool or cotton pack should have just enough castor oil to soak it through. Place the pack on the area of skin you wish to treat. Put cling film over the pack. Add a hot water bottle. Leave for up to an hour. Naturopaths recommend the use of a castor oil pack up to once a day for conditions such as swollen joints, arthritis, age spots, colon problems, cirrhosis, bladder infections and wounds.
Warm castor oil carefully in a saucepan. Massage it into your scalp. Place a shower cap on your head and leave the oil in place overnight. Rinse your hair and wash with shampoo. Use this treatment once a month to create stronger and shinier hair. Castor oil can also reduce dandruff, prevent hair loss and repair damage caused by perms and colourants.