A Zillion Surprising Castor Oil Uses

A spoonful of castor oil is a punishment in kids' cartoons, but you'll be amazed at these all-natural, super-effective uses for castor oil in real life.

When I hear the words “castor oil” I always think of the cartoons I watched when I was little. Remember? Mothers were always threatening kids with spoons full of castor oil. You could tell the kids dreaded tasting the oil.

Castor oil was a popular home remedy for decades, primarily for its laxative properties. Countless moms followed the television’s example and made their children swallow a spoonful of castor oil every day.

Moms weren’t the only ones who used castor oil to threaten and punish their charges. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini instructed members of his Blackshirts militia to force-feed castor oil to dissidents. Prisoners who consumed enough of the oil suffered serious diarrhea. Some died of dehydration, while others were humiliated, sick and uncomfortable – and presumably unlikely to cause the fascist government any more headaches. To this day, Italians use the phrase “usare l’olio di ricino” (“using castor oil”) to mean “to coerce or abuse someone.”

All of this must make castor oil sound pretty terrible. I probably shouldn’t mention that the oil is named “castor” because it is a good substitute for castoreum, an oil that is used in perfume-making. Castoreum comes from a small gland near a beaver’s anus. The word “castor” means “beaver” in Latin.

And I definitely shouldn’t dwell on the fact that castor beans are a primary source of the deadly substance ricin, which has figured in prominent biological terrorism attacks. Castor oil is heated during extraction, in any case, and the heat renders ricin harmless. Experts worry that years of picking castor beans can cause health problems for farm workers, but the castor oil you buy from a druggist or natural foods store is perfectly safe. No less an authority than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has declared it “generally regarded as safe and effective” for many uses.

In my opinion, “safe and effective” doesn’t begin to do justice to the myriad unique benefits of this natural substance and the wide range of castor oil uses.

Stimulate Hair Growth

Hair and oil bottle
Oil is essential for keeping hair shiny and lustrous. Castor oil can help keep your locks lovely – and it promotes hair growth too!

Castor oil is well-known for its ability to promote hair growth. Simply apply it directly to the scalp before bedtime and rinse it out in the morning.

If you are having trouble spreading the oil, you can mix it with coconut, almond or olive oil.

How quickly castor oil makes hair grow depends largely on how quickly your natural hair would grow. If your hair is not growing at all or not at all in one area, castor oil will stimulate growth in that area. It can also be used to stimulate the growth of eyelashes and eyebrows.

Rehydrate Your Dry Hair and Scalp

You can perk up your dry hair and scalp with one of these rehydrating castor oil hair masks:

Oil Me Up

1 egg
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. cold-pressed castor oil

Simply mix the ingredients and apply the mixture all over your clean, dry hair and scalp – or only at the tips of your hair if they need special treatment.

You may need to readjust the amounts if you have really long or really thick hair.

Leave the mixture on your head for an hour. When it is time to rinse, remember to massage your scalp with your favorite shampoo for hair growth stimulation.

Peppermint Paradise (Vegan)

2 Tbsp. cold-pressed castor oil
1 Tbsp. peppermint oil
1 avocado
3 oz. fresh coconut milk

This fluffy, nutrient-packed hair mask will surely give your dry, lifeless hair some serious pep. It includes avocado to soften your hair and natural coconut milk to add essential vitamins and minerals.

Apply the mask to clean, dry hair. Leave it on for an hour or two.

Remember to massage the scalp as you wash the mask away with your favorite shampoo. Condition if you wish.

Whipped Coconut Dream (Vegan)

4 oz coconut oil
2 Tbsp. cold-pressed castor oil

Pour the coconut oil into a mixing bowl and mix until fluffy. Then add the castor oil and continue to stir until thoroughly mixed.

Apply the mixture to your dry hair. Wrap your hair up in a loose bun and cover your head with a shower cap. Then use your hair dryer to lightly heat up your hair. This will help open your hair’s cuticles and ensure the oils soak in thoroughly.

Wait one hour. Wash the oil out with your favorite shampoo, making sure to massage your scalp to stimulate hair growth. Condition if you please.

Lauren’s Favorite Castor Oil Hair Mask (Vegan)

2 Tbsp. castor oil
4 drops rosemary oil
Almond oil (as much as you need)

Mix a tablespoon of castor oil with four drops of rosemary oil in the palm of your hand. Spread the mixture on your hands and then begin to apply it to your scalp.

Massage your scalp for a few minutes with this mixture until you can feel the rosemary oil tingly all over your head. This is a great way to help make sure you got all your hair follicles!

Next, mix a tablespoon of castor oil with as much almond oil as you need and apply this all over the rest of your hair shafts. Make sure to focus on the ends of your hair.

Leave this mixture on your hair for an hour and then wash it out, massaging your scalp, with your favorite shampoo.

Another great way to make castor oil part of your routine is to add some castor oil to your everyday hair conditioner. Since you will be using it every day, make sure not to leave it on your hair for too long or it will make your hair look greasy.

You can also apply castor oil directly to your hair and scalp without mixing it into conditioner or another oil. However, you are likely to have trouble washing the castor oil out of your hair.

Treat Dry or Acne-Prone Skin

Beautiful girl preens before small mirror
For a flawless complexion, count on castor oil. It really can help.

Castor oil is super-effective at treating the skin. For the best results, soak your skin with in a warm solution of Epsom salts in water for 15 minutes or so. This will help soothe the skin and maintain its hydration.

Castor oil is great for treating both dry and acne-prone skin. In fact, it is so potent that it’s to dilute it with another oil. Sunflower-seed oil seems to work best, but you can try any other cold-pressed vegetable oil. A good blend of these oils would be 10 percent castor oil with 90 percent sunflower seed oil for dry skin, or 30 percent castor oil with 70 percent sunflower-seed oil for acne-prone skin.

You use less castor oil for dry skin than you would expect because it draws impurities out, cleansing and purging oil from your pores.

Once you’ve got your castor and sunflower-seed oil blend ready to go, it’s time to apply it. Here are the steps for a flawless application:

  1. Make sure you have washed your face, taking care to remove any makeup.
  2. Spread a quarter-sized amount of oil across both of your palms.
  3. Slowly and firmly massage the oil into your skin.
  4. Run hot water over a washcloth and wring it out. The water shouldn’t be scalding, but it should be hot enough to you’re your skin’s pores and draw the oils out.
  5. Lay the hot washcloth over your face. You will soon feel the steam from the hot water begin to open your pores. Do not rub or drag the cloth across the skin. Leave the washcloth in place long enough for it to cool completely.
  6. Rinse out the washcloth and repeat step 5.
  7. Rinse out the washcloth again. This time, press the hot cloth into the skin lightly over your entire face. Do not scrub or pull at the skin with the cloth. You can repeat the steaming process up to six times for very problematic, acne-prone skin. Dry skin should not be steamed more than three times, as it will likely begin to make the skin dryer.

If your skin feels tight after this treatment, apply a bit of the oil blend to the skin. Or apply any oil or face cream you like.

Deep cleansing is good for your skin but it should not be done too frequently. Pay attention to what your skin is telling you and be careful not to upset it. Your skin will thank you with its glow!

Soothe Sun Burns

Despite the precautions we take on to prevent sunburn, it still happens. When it does, we’ve got to act fast to help our skin heal itself as quickly as possible. Applying castor oil directly to the skin is the perfect treatment.

Castor oil is packed with skin-loving vitamin E. It gets down deep into your pores to heal your skin from the inside out.

If you have a really bad sunburn, submerge yourself in an apple-cider-vinegar bath. After your soothing bath, rub the castor oil all over the affected skin.

Eliminate Skin Tags and Moles

There are two ways castor oil can help you get rid of those annoying skin tags.

First, try applying castor oil to the skin and wrapping the area with a hot towel or electric heating pad. (If you’re using a towel, wring it out and recharge it with hot water periodically when it cools down.) Leave the oil on your skin for 30 top 60 minutes. Most people see results for skin tags in 10 to 15 applications. Moles can take a bit longer, so don’t give up. Moles eventually shrivel up and fall off.

Or you can mix castor oil and baking soda into a paste. Then apply the paste directly to the skin tag or mole. The proportion of castor oil to baking soda is about 50/50. Apply the paste twice daily and leave it on as long as possible.

Make Scars Less Visible

Castor oil can’t remove scar tissue or promote new skin growth, but it will smooth out fibrous tissue so much that scars will be much less noticeable. Simply apply a very small amount of castor oil to the clean scar tissue. Rub it directly into the scar. There is no need to rinse off the oil; for best results, let it soak gradually into the skin.

Eliminate Nail Fungus

hygienic equipments
Castor oil is among the most effective home remedies you can incorporate in your pedicure routine.

Instead of buying expensive chemical fungus removers for your toenails, reach for castor oil.

Castor oil has a built-in natural antifungal agent so it’s great for skin and nail fungus removal.

For toes, soak an unbleached cotton pad with castor oil and wrap with plastic wrap. Leave it on your toes overnight. Since castor oil stains, you may want to put a towel under your feet while you sleep.

Ease Digestive Difficulties

Castor oil has been classified “generally recognized as safe and effective” by the FDA for use as a laxative. It is said to work especially well for young children and the elderly. It is tu be used only for sporadic occurrences of slow digestion, not for chronic constipation.

The regular dosage is one to four teaspoons, depending on the age and weight of the patient.

Castor oil begins relieving the symptoms of slow digestion five to 10 hours after ingestion. The only side-effect is the taste. To mask it, you can mix the oil with coffee or warmed milk, or place it in a gelatin pill capsule.

It’s a good idea to check with your physician if you expect to use castor oil as a laxative more than occasionally. While the FDA has approved the oil and classified it as safe, too much castor oil can deteriorate the lining of the stomach.

Reduce Arthritis, Joint and Muscle Pain

Castor oil is an excellent anti-inflammatory. It is great for arthritis and muscle pains because it reduces the pain and inflammation involved.

To reap the benefits, apply pure cold-pressed castor oil to the skin; cover with a hot, steamy rag, and wrap in plastic wrap. You can also use castor oil and a heating pad. Both work perfectly well at relieving inflammation and pain.

Dissolve Cysts

Many women are frightened to feel lumps in their breasts, even if they are only cysts. While cysts are completely harmless, they can be large enough to be an eyesore and they are always scary.

Surgery seems an extreme remedy for harmless cysts, and many insurance plans don’t cover it. Castor oil to the rescue!

Here’s how to use castor oil to rid your body of cysts:

  1. Cut three pieces of wool flannel or gauze big enough to cover the cyst and the surrounding area.
  2. Soak the flannel pieces in castor oil.
  3. Apply the pieces, one on top of the other, onto the area.
  4. Wrap in plastic wrap.
  5. Turn on your heating pad just warm enough to open your pores, but not so hot that it will destroy the vitamins within the oil.
  6. Apply heat to the oil for 60 minutes, then remove the heating pad and the wool panels.

If you want to do another round, wait a few hours and then use fresh oil. The oil you used previously will have lost many of its nutrients.

Other Castor Oil Uses

Green castor oil plant
Castor oil got a bad reputation from cartoons (and its use as an element of torture by Italian Fascists didn’t help), but it can be a key part of a healthy lifestyle.

And that’s just the beginning. Castor oil is also useful in treating pink eye, in lubricating scissors or hinges, in ridding the body of ringworms, in making wrinkles and stretch marks fade, in easing menstrual cramps, in eliminating age spots, and much more.

Next time you face a problem, check to see whether castor oil could be the remedy you’re looking for. It’s inexpensive, all-natural and effective. It doesn’t get much better than that!

About the author


Lauren is a writer and painter. When she's not painting or writing, she enjoys cooking, exercising, playing music, singing, and getting lost on YouTube for hours on end.

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