Castor Oil Benefits for Your Skin – And More!

If you had one of those parents that swore by castor oil when you were a kid with a bout of constipation, you may not have the best memories of it. Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest you take it internally for its laxative properties. Instead, I want to tell you about how to use it on the outside of your body and the many castor oil benefits for skin problems.

The medical use of castor oil dates back to 1500 B.C. when the ancient Egyptians used it in treating eye irritations, as a laxative, and to induce labor. The oil is extracted from the seeds of the castor plant (ricinus communis) which is also called the Palma Christi plant or Palm of Christ.

What Makes Castor Oil Effective?

The main constituent in castor oil is ricinoleic acid (RA). As a triglyceride that is comprised of fatty acids, it is 85-95% ricinoleic acid. It is known that RA has both analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, castor oil is also antimicrobial (antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral).

It is important to note that the castor seed has a bad side. There’s also a protein (ricin) in the seed that is highly toxic. If you were to ingest just 5 to 10 castor seeds, you would suffer fatal consequences. Don’t worry, however, as it remains in the mash left behind after the seeds have been processed for the oil. It’s believed that none of the toxic ricin ends up in the castor oil during the process, so the risk is minimal.

How is Castor Oil Used Medicinally?

As already noted, it is used as a laxative, but many applications have been found using it topically. Using castor oil for skin conditions is quite common. It can be helpful for itching, hair loss, skin infections, ringworm, wound healing, keratosis, warts, acne, dermatitis, itching, and skin infections.

Because the RA effect enhances the absorption of other agents, there have been studies regarding its use for treating certain types of cancer. However, the American Cancer Society states, “available scientific evidence does not support claims that castor oil on the skin cures cancer or any other disease.”

There’s still hope, however, as some research does suggest a suppressive effect on some types of tumors. According to Todd A. Born, ND, “Castor oil is highly underutilized in today's modern medical world, even among my venerable naturopathic colleagues.” In the meantime, we can enjoy the castor oil for skin conditions and health. 

Why Should I Use Castor Oil?

Its strong immune-enhancing effects are due to the way it supports your body’s lymphatic system. When your lymphatic system fails, chronic illness is not far behind, so supporting this vital system is very important.
Using castor oil which is natural and synthetic-free instead of something with chemical ingredients is like getting a double benefit because you are protecting yourself from something potentially harmful while preventing various conditions.

Do I Need to Be Cautious About Where I Buy Castor Oil?

As is the case with most natural remedies and beauty products, it’s important to learn about the company you are getting your castor oil from. Look for castor oil that has been naturally processed rather than solvent-extracted using hexane or has been deodorized. These added toxic agents could be bothersome. Ideally, look for castor oil that has been derived from organically grown plants rather than those heavily sprayed with pesticides. 

What is a Castor Oil Pack?

There are many different ways you can use castor oil externally, including simply rubbing it on an affected area either in a small area or as a massage oil. A castor oil pack is used as a therapy to infuse the healing properties directly into tissues. This goes beyond skin improvement and is used for boosting your lymphatic system and removing toxins from your system. However, if toxins in your body are the blame for skin issues, better skin could be a welcome outcome too.

You’ll need high quality, cold-pressed castor oil, plastic wrap or something similar, heating pad or hot water bottle, an old large bath towel, and enough wool or cotton flannel to cover the treatment area three layers thick. The full process is pretty easy. You simply soak the flannel in the oil (room temperature), put it on your abdomen while lying down, cover with the plastic, put the heat above that, and cover with the towel to hold in the heat. Then just relax for up to an hour.

You can easily get the oil off your skin using soap and water. Save the castor pack for use again by storing in an airtight bag or container. It can be reused until it begins to change color although you may have to add more oil each time to keep it fully saturated. Dr. Mercola recommends this be done a minimum of four days in a row per week for an entire month, but that daily use provides the most benefit. It is important to do a small test before doing a castor oil pack to check for an allergic reaction.

A Few Quick Precautions

As I noted, castor oil has been used in years past as a way to induce labor because it triggers uterine contractions. This is similar to the way it helps relieve constipation - by producing  pelvic muscle contractions. If you are pregnant, you should be careful not to consume enough to cause premature labor. It is also important for anyone to not internally ingest too much at one time as an overdose results in severe dehydration and other potentially fatal side effects. Those with bleeding problems and peptic ulcers should not ingest castor oil.

As for skin precautions, before using castor oil on a large area, be sure to do a test area. There have been cases of skin irritations and allergic reactions. These are rarely serious but it’s better to know before you slather yourself with the stuff. You don’t want to apply castor oil hoping to get beautiful, soft skin and end up with a painful rash instead. 

What If I Just Want it For My Skin?

I really wanted to mention the other health benefits so that if you decide to use castor oil for its skin benefits you’ll be aware of everything else it has to offer.. I like knowing that using a product for deep moisturization or as a spot treatment for skin problems is actually doing even more for me.

I also like getting to the basics. I know that plenty of pricey moisturizers have castor oil in them, but I prefer using the one thing I need and skipping the long list of other ingredients - many of which I can’t pronounce. Yes, castor oil is a bit sticky but it has no oily feeling once it gets absorbed. You can also make it easier to use by mixing it with coconut oil.

Does Castor Oil Have Other Uses?

I love that there are so many things to use castor oil for! I like that a bottle of castor oil on hand gives me something to use for a long list of situations. I don’t know about you, but the less I have to cram into my bathroom cabinet, the better. I’d rather have castor oil instead of a moisturizer, laxative, acne medication, wart remover, skin tag remover, massage oil, and sleep aid. Oh, did I mention, dab a bit on your eyelids before bed. I’m not sure why this helps but you can’t beat this natural sleep aid method for sleeping well and waking up less groggy.

The list doesn’t end there, either. It’s great for pets’ skin ailments too and you don’t have to worry about them licking it off as the worst it will do is have that laxative benefit you hated as a kid. It is mild enough to use on babies with colic too.

One last thing (and I admit there are probably lots more I don’t know about yet) is that like any oil, castor oil can be used as a lubricant. I use it on my kitchen scissors, manual can opener, and a couple kitchen appliances.I love how castor oil softens my skin, as well as my hair, with no harsh chemicals and is practically odorless. I’m anxious to find even more uses, so if you know some, please share!