The purgative properties of the castor bean oil were already known by Dioscorides in the 1st century A.D. However, the castor bean plant was not used in Europe until the 18th century.
Castor Bean Scientific Facts
- Scientific Name – Ricinus communis L.
- Other Names – Bofareira, castor-oil plant, Mexico seed, oil plant, palma Christi.
- French – Ricin, palma Christi.
- Spanish – Ricino, palmacristi.
- Environment – Native to tropical Africa, and spread all over warm regions worldwide. It is farmed for medicinal purposes.
- Description – Herbaceous plant growing in warm climates, a shrub, and even tree-like when in tropical regions. It belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family and has large, palm-shaped leaves, and thorny fruit with three seeds inside.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally – The leaves and the seed oil.
Castor bean seeds contain around 50 percent of oil, ricinine (an alkaloid), and ricin, a very toxic glycoprotein that agglutinates red blood cells but remains in the flesh of the seed after extracting its oil.
At the recommended doses, castor bean oil produces a mild purgative effect some two hours after its intake. It is non-irritant, with no colic or cramps. It effectively heals any constipation case, even those in children. However, if the case of habitual constipation, we recommend adopting dietary measures as well as employing milder laxative substances. It is also useful to expel intestinal parasites.
Externally used, both the OIL and the SEEDS of the plant have emollient and healing properties. They are applied for eczema, herpes, wounds, burns, skin rashes, and to fight hair loss, both in the form of lotions and poultices.
An intake of three seeds can cause death to a child, and 10 to 15 seeds, to an adult person.
How to use Castor Bean
- As a purgative, the dose is 5 to 10 grams of oil for children, and 15 to 30 grams for adults, taken in the morning, on an empty stomach.
- Lotion with the oil on the affected skin area.
- Poultices with mashed fresh leaves.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 531. Print.