Origin: Castor oil is obtained from the seed of the castor plant. Castor is a natural plant oil. Castor oil is one of the most important and industrial oils in the world. It is believed that Castor oil was first found in ancient Egyptian tombs which date back to 4000 b.c. According to the Ebers Papyrus, an Egyptian medical text from 1500 b.c., says that Egyptian doctors used castor oil to protect the eyes from irritation. It is native to the Ethiopian region of east Africa.
The oil from the bean was also used as facial oils and to light the lamps. Castor oil was used a lot in the United States for medicinal purposes. They used to use Castor oil to treat constipation, infections, and heartburns. It was also used to induce labor for pregnant women. Now a day, castor oil is used internally as a laxative and externally as a castor oil pack for hair and skin.
Scientifically: The castor plant is botanically called Ricinus communis. It usually grows in tropical and warm temperate regions throughout the world and also grows abundantly like a weed in the southwestern United States. Castor oil is known to grow along the stream banks, river beds, bottomlands, and in almost any warm area where the soil is well-drained and with sufficient nutrients and moisture to nurture growth. They usually grow up to 6–15 ft (1.8–5 m) tall in one season with full sunlight, heat, and moisture which is required. The leaves resemble finger-like lobes in a group of 4- 5 leaves and flowers are usually in clusters.
Each female flower consists of a spiny ovary, which develops into the fruit (or gives the seed capsule) and a bright red structure with feathery branches (stigma lobes) to receive pollen from the male flowers. Each male flower consists of a cluster of many stamens (productive seeds) that shed pollen that is distributed by the wind which helps in pollination. At one end of the seed is a small spongy structure called the caruncle, which aids in the absorption of water when the seeds are planted further.
Usage: Castor oil is a strong and effective laxative. It consists of components that affect both the small and large intestines. It has been in use to clear the bowels after food poisoning and to relieve constipation. Castor oil is also known as a stimulant laxative or as contact laxative. Castor oil also has numerous hair and skin benefits. It works wonder in making hair thick and strong.
Castor oil and its derivatives are used in cosmetics, hair oils, fungistatic (fungus-growth-inhibiting) compounds, embalming fluid, printing inks, soap, lubricants, greases and hydraulic fluids, dyeing aids, and textile finishing materials. Turkey-red oil, which has been in use as a dyeing aid, is produced by the reaction of castor oil with sulfuric acid.
Below are some DIYs with Castor oil:
- Take a few drops of castor oil. Gently massage and apply on the face for 30 minutes. Then rinse later. This helps in deeply nourishing the skin.
- Take 2 tablespoons of castor oil and a tablespoon of fenugreek seed powder. Mix them together and apply on the scalp and the hair. Let it sit for 40 minutes and shampoo later. This hair pack helps in reducing hair fall and strengthens the hair roots.
- Take a tablespoon of castor oil and add a tablespoon of coconut oil. Mix them together and apply on the hair scalp. Gently massage and keep it overnight. Shampoo as usual. This oil concoction helps in hair growth and prevents premature graying of the hair.
- Take a tablespoon of fresh aloe vera gel and add a teaspoon of castor oil. Combine them together and apply on the face for 10 minutes. Rinse later. This mask helps in controlling excessive sebum production and moisturizes the skin as well.
- Mix a few drops of almond oil with a few drops of castor oil. Gently massage this oil mixture on the face and keep it overnight. This helps in reducing scars and prevents aging of the skin.