Essential Oils

Castor Oil

Derived from a perennial flowering plant belonging to a genus known as “Ricinus” is an essential oil known as Castor. This oil has been extracted from the seeds of the castor oil plant belonging to the “Ricinus communis” species. In addition, this oil is obtained by “pressing” (a method of extraction) from the seeds of plant. Furthermore, this essential oil is popularly used in “naturopathy” in the treatment of health conditions such as cysts. It is even used to treat skin cancer however, according to the “American Cancer Society” there is no clear evidence suggesting that the use of castor oil helps in curing this dreaded disease.

a. Chemical constituents of Castor Oil:

This oil is mainly composed of an organic compound known as Ricinoleic Acid (about 85 to 95%), which is essentially an “unsaturated fatty acid” i.e. a fatty acid containing a single double bond. The other compounds included in this are Oleic acid (2 to 6%), Linoleic acid (1 to 5%), Alpha-linoleic acid (0.5 to 1%), Stearic acid (0.5 to 1%), Palmitic Acid (0.5 to 1%), Dihydroxystearic acid (0.3 to 0.5%), and others (0.2 to 0.5%).

b. The uses and benefits of Castor Oil:

A number of benefits to health can be derived by using this essential oil. However, one should also consider the adverse effects or side effects reported from its use.

  1. Antiseptic:

This oil possesses an “antiseptic” property, and hence when used helps in the treatment of wounds by destroying growth of microorganisms.

  1. Antifungal:

This oil comprises of an “antifungal” property, and hence when used helps in treating fungal infection such as ringworm.

  1. Antiarthritic:

This oil possesses an “antiarthritic” property, and hence when used helps in the treatment of joint pains and arthritis.

  1. Anticancerous:

This oil when used is also known to possess “anticancerous” properties, and thereby helps in the treatment of skin cancer.

c. The adverse effects of Castor Oil:

There are number of adverse effects that may occur on using this oil. They are follows:

  1. The excessive use of this oil could lead to nausea which could eventually cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
  2. “Diarrhea” could also be caused if this oil is used in excess.
  3. A study suggests that excessive use of this oil could also lead to skin rashes and other allergic reactions such as hives and itching.
  4. An overdose of castor oil may also lead to dizziness, and other serious side effects such as fainting and shortness of breath.

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