INCI name: Ricinus communis
Description: Castor is a herbaceous shrub which can grow up to 15 feet high and is believed to have originated in Africa or India. The oil is made from the seeds, and has a very thick almost sticky consistency. The seeds themselves contain a highly toxic substance known as ricin. This does not come out in the oil. Castor oil is a very stable oil and does not turn rancid easily.
History / benefits: The ancient Egyptians used this oil as a purgative and it was popular with the Romans to heal skin defects. In North Africa it has been used as a main ingredient in magic potions.
Today, castor oil is used in food products as a coating in tablets and as a flavour component in beverages, frozen dairy desserts and confections. It is also highly utilized by the cosmetic industry as an ingredient in lipsticks, hair products, ointments, soaps and creams.
Like the Egyptians, today's natural medicine practitioners often use castor oil as a purgative. The main component of castor oil (approximately 85%) is ricinoleic acid, which is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, making it excellent in helping relieve joint pain, rheumatism, sprains and sciatica. Castor packs can be used for a variety of ailments such as arthritis, chest infections, intestinal disorders, constipation, toxemia and belly fat.
How to use: Castor oil is most effective when applied in a pack. The purpose of the pack is to improve blood flow in the affected area. Apply the oil to the area of concern, place a flannel cloth over the area and then apply a hot water bottle or other heating element. Leave on for 30 – 60 minutes. If you are using castor oil to reduce belly fat, this protocol should be repeated a minimum of 3 times a week for 8 weeks.
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