Castor oil is a type of vegetable oil made from castor beans, and it has numerous purposes. It is used in various types of food processing as a preservative, and it has several medical applications. It is a powerful laxative and can be taken to relieve constipation, as well be used as a remedy for various skin conditions. Castor oil is sometimes used as a natural treatment for arthritis, as well as a method to induce labor. It is important to keep in mind, however, that this oil contains a toxin called ricin, which means it can be harmful to humans, especially small children.
Various skin conditions, such as ringworm or athlete's foot, can be treated using castor oil, as can styes on the skin. The oil can be coated over these skin maladies, though using too much castor oil on these conditions can be risky. If the problems persist for more than a few days, it is advisable to see a doctor rather than continue the use of the oil. Many medications will contain certain amounts of the oil as well, which means a patient may be taking this oil without even knowing it. Sometimes the oil is used to strengthen the immune system, and it may even help with tissue growth and repair. When taken internally, the oil can cause serious illness or even death, especially in small children, so it must be used sparingly.
When applied sparingly to the skin, castor oil can help prevent or smooth out wrinkles, making it a valuable product in beauty products. It also has antibacterial properties that can be exceptionally useful in treating styes on the eyes. Boils, warts, stretch marks, and even sunburn can be treated by applying a thin coating of the oil over the affected area. Again, this must be done sparingly to avoid some of the negative side effects of the potentially dangerous oil. A certain type of boiled castor oil is often applied topically to help ease arthritis pain.
Various processing applications are also possible with castor oil. Soaps and beauty products, such as lipstick, often feature castor oil as an ingredient. Sanitary products are not the only ones to use this oil, either; various paints and varnishes will often contain oil from the castor bean, as will hydraulic fluids, greases, and oils used in manufacturing settings. Lubricants, dyes, sealants, and even rubbers are also likely to contain such oil.