Castor oil has been used for hundreds of thousands of years as a natural topical oil.
In fact, castor oil was used in ancient Egyptian times to help induce labor and as a wound healer.
As years progressed, people began to notice the amazing healing powers of castor oil. Now, it's used for a handful of remedies.
What are some of the most common topical benefits of castor oil?
- Gas and bloating
- Skin tonification
- Fibrocystic breasts
Listen in as Dr. Holly shares the eight topical uses of castor oil and the many benefits associated with it.
RadioMD Presents: The Dr. Holly Lucille Show | Original Air Date: May 27, 2015
Host: Holly Lucille, ND, RN
She’s articulate. She’s passionate and she tells the truth about health. She’s Dr. Holly. It’s time for the Dr. Holly Lucille Show.
DR HOLLY: Hi. Thanks so much for coming back and joining me. Listen, I’m going to talk this entire segment by myself. Usually, I have guests and we go back and forth. Well, I’m actually going to kind of have a guest because I’m going to be referencing a colleague of mine, Dr. Todd Born. He wrote in an article in one of the journals that I get, The Naturopathic Doctor News and Review, on the topical uses of castor oil. I read it and I was like, “I have got to share this with the listeners on RadioMD,” because, you know, I’m all about...I mean, I have a very extensive and expensive education. There’s all sorts of things when you present clinically that we can do. I mean all sorts of things. And certainly, there is value in all systems of medicine. I always say that. So, conventional western medicine: great value; traditional Chinese medicine, chiropractic medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and naturopathic medicine but one of the things that I love the most is, what can we do? What are the least invasive methods that we can utilize to increase our health and wellness? And, castor oil is, quite honestly, I think, one of them. Now, a lot of people don’t know much about castor oil being applied topically. When you mention castor oil, they’re like “ugh.” They don’t even want to hear it because one of the things we were taught in school was it was a pregnancy balm. Somebody who was late in delivering their baby, we would prescribe castor oil. They would take it internally and it’s definitely, let’s just say, a very effective laxative, but it would stimulate pregnancy, actually. It is so strong. So, internally it can cause a raucous, for sure. But, externally, on your skin, I tell you, I cannot say enough about it! I’m talking about things like pain, inflammation, swelling, gas and bloating, constipation, detoxification, fibrocystic breasts. I just got a report that my breast tissue is extremely dense. There are other conditions that women who have these fibrous tissues that makes difficult for diagnoses sometimes, any pathology that’s there. Castor oil, believe it or now, can be helpful for that. Skin tonification, so as a cosmetic application, as well.
So, I’m going to move through some of the mechanisms of action because castor oil is such amazing product. And, the thing that I love most about it...When you think about pain and inflammation, obviously, there a lot of folks that are going for NSAIDS, those little anti-inflammatory devices; anything from ibuprofen to Tylenol, etc. A lot of times, especially, with continued use, it does more harm than good. If you have a nice bottle of castor oil around, and you can actually use it and apply it topically, you can decrease the risk of other things. It’s definitely that least invasive method that I am such a champion for. First, do no harm, right? That’s how we roll here. At least we try to.
So, castor oil is made from the plant. It’s a castor bean. It’s been used really since ancient Egyptian times internally, like I said, as a stimulating laxative and to induce labor. Topically, it’s been used as a wound healer, anti-inflammatory agent, detoxifier, immunomodulator, and also has been found helpful in gastrointestinal complaints. There have been scientific studies to back up all of this. One of the, I think, crazy arguments that people who talk to me about Naturopathic medicine not being evidence-based. I have to tell you, there are very few things that fall out of my mouth that I don’t know, there’s just a slew of evidence behind. Whether it’s really evidence that I have seen it clinically, that people transform and get better in my practice, which is the best evidence whatsoever or just documented studies.
So, the main active component in castor oil is something called Ricinoleic Acid (RA) which exerts an analgesic. An analgesic is kind of like application of ice. It’s a pain reducer and anti-inflammatory effects. RA has also been shown to have similar pharmacological properties to capsaicin. That is the active ingredient in cayenne pepper. We’ve had a lot of research on that. It’s also suggested that RA acts on sensory neuropeptide mediated neurogenic inflammatory receptors so this is the mechanism action of the active component. I think that’s really important. When we are talking about herbal medicine, when we’re talking about clinical nutrients, medical nutrition, we’re talking about not brand named drugs and not even a generic named drug. We’re talking about these beautiful, medicinal plants. Believe it or not, there’s a saying that a weed is only a plant that hasn’t been discovered yet. You think dandelion. I know that folks in the Midwest, you want to get that Round Up going on and kill those dandelions in your lawn. But, I tell you that one of the most medicinal weeds/plants is your old dandelion. Great for liver detoxification. Good for blood purification. Dandelion roots, the leaves as well. I can’t say enough about it. We just kind of treat it as an old weed and we use toxic substances to get rid of it. This is the thing about botanical medicine. We are looking at the active component. Believe it or not, when I went to Naturopathic medical school--and this is 15 years ago--you know, I had to take Pharmacology quarter after quarter after quarter after quarter or I think we were on trimesters. I can’t remember that. But, a lot of pharmacology because you had to pass Boards. But, quite honestly, taking the Pharmacognosy of botanical medicines, of plant medicines, because they’re so vast and so much more complicated: the mechanism; the action; the active components. Are we looking at the roots? The leaves? The stem? There’s just so much going on.
But I’ve got to tell you this, castor oil is so amazing. Let me talk about its effect on immunity. The leading theory on how castor oil positively affects the immune system is via an increase of T-cells, okay? And, this would be in the skin itself, and also prostaglandins. This is a pathway for immunity in your body. So, T- cells...the thymus is a gland and it sits pretty much under your sternum, that big breastbone that you have. And “T” stands for thymus but they’re part of your immune system. The biggest thing about immune health with humans is that we always want to be thinking about increasing the resistance of the host. We can be great hosts. We can host flu viruses. We can host candida infections. We are great hosts, but we want to increase our resistance, right? So, increasing our own T-cells is a great way to do that. Instead of taking an antifungal; taking an antibiotic; taking an antiviral. You’ve got herpes virus so you’re on Valtrex all the time. You’ve got candida infection, you’re on Diflucan all the time. You’ve got a bacterial infection, you’re on some sort of antibiotic; Z-Pak; you name it. But what’s better? Because those do more harm than good, it’s better to increase our body’s own T-cells and that’s exactly what castor oil can do. It’s highly therapeutic. It’s got low odor; low incidence of side effects; and overall a low risk profile as far as utilizing it. I think that it is definitely something you should have in the house, for sure--a bottle of castor oil. And, a lot of times, topically for skin, I’ve seen it used, and used effectively. Any atopic dermatitis like eczema, blemishes. But, you use castor oil packs. You can get a wool flannel. Heritage House, I believe, is the brand name of these packs. The directions are right on the back. Pour a little bit of castor oil on that wool flannel and put it over the affected area. A lot of times with liver detoxification, right over your liver which is on the right side of your body right under your breast and right under your ribs there, about as big as your hand. Castor oil packs over your liver. Castor oil packs over any time there’s ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, that pelvic congestion; very, very important there. Gas, bloating, constipation; over your entire digestive area you can get around your abdomen around your stomach. Here it is... It’s castor oil, topically. The effects are amazing, very therapeutic. You can use it topically. And, guess what? It’s one of the least invasive methods comparatively to some of these other things. First, do no harm! That’s what we’re doing here.
I’m Dr. Holly Lucille this is Mindful Medicine. You’re on RadioMD and you can follow us on Facebook or Twitter @YourRadioMD. Stay tuned! We’ll be right back.