Castor bean


Euphorbiaceae – Euphorbiaceae.

Parts used: seeds.

Pharmacy name: castor oil – Ricini oleum (formerly: Oleum Ricini).

Botanical description. The homeland of the castor bean is apparently tropical Africa, but probably also India. At present, this medicinal and poisonous plant is found mainly in culture – in all relatively warm states. This is a small tree, shrub or annual herb, depending on the area where the castor bean grows. There are within 20 varieties of this plant, differing in shape, size and nature of the prickly coating of fruit-boxes. Long-petiolate, large, shield-shaped leaves are dissected into 7-11 lobes with a serrated edge. Flowers grouped in bunches are placed in the apical panicle; top – women’s, bottom – men’s. The fruits are smooth or prickly, break up into 3 bilobed nests, each of which contains a seed.

Active ingredients: up to 87% of castor oil “make up glycerides of ricinolic acid; the rest is glycerides of other fatty acids. Along with fatty oil, the seeds contain protein substances, and above all the extremely poisonous ricin; 10 seeds are enough to kill a person.

Healing action and application. Castor oil is a good laxative, which was previously used only for this, and even now it is still not often used. The laxative effect is based on the fact that when the oil is broken down in the small intestine, substances appear that, due to a slight irritant effect, stimulate intestinal motility. The remaining oil functions as a lubricant. With acute constipation, castor oil works reliably – traditionally 1 tablespoon is enough. More than 2 tablespoons can not be taken – in this way the action can no longer be strengthened. A few drops of castor oil are often added to medical and cosmetic water for hair, which has a beneficial effect on dry scalp and makes brittle hair more flexible. Some castor oil also contains nail polish remover.

Side effects. Pharmacy castor oil is safe and has no side effects. In chronic constipation, castor oil should be avoided, as its long-term use leads to impaired stomach function due to excess fat. Do not use in case of bowel obstruction.

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