Taken internally, Castor Oil is used as a treatment for constipation, intestinal inflammation and worms.
Castor Oil has been used as a laxative since antiquity. It's mentioned by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, and beans from the Castor plant have been found in Egyptian tombs. Castor Oil's laxative effect stems from its ability to prevent absorption of liquids from the intestinal tract.
Don't take Castor Oil if you have nausea, vomiting, an intestinal blockage, appendicitis, severe inflammatory intestinal disease, or any abdominal pain of unknown origin. Not recommended for pregnant and nursing women and children under 12.
Grieve's classic 'A Modern Herbal': 'Castor Oil is regarded as one of the most valuable laxatives in medicine. It is of special service in temporary constipation and wherever a mild action is essential, and is extremely useful for children and the aged. It is used in cases of colic and acute diarrhoea due to slow digestion, but must not be employed in cases of chronic constipation, which it only aggravates whilst relieving the symptoms. It acts in about five hours, affecting the entire length of the bowel, but not increasing the flow of bile, except in very large doses. The mode of its action is unknown. The oil will purge when rubbed into the skin, or injected. It is also used for expelling worms, after other special remedies have been administered.'
'The only serious objections to the use of Castor Oil are its flavour and the sickness often produced by it. The nauseous taste may be disguised by administering it covered by Lemon oil, Sassafras oil and other essential oils, or floating on Peppermint or Cinnamon water, or coffee, or shaken up with glycerine, or given in fresh or warmed milk, the dose varying from 1 to 4 teaspoonsful. Probably the best way, however, is to administer it in capsules. Small repeated doses may be given in the intestinal colic of children.'
'It may also be made into an emulsion with the yolk of an egg or mucilage; or with orange-wine or gin.'
'Castor Oil forms a clean, light-coloured soap, which dries and hardens well and is free from smell. It has been recommended for medicinal use. The inferior qualities of the oil are frequently employed in India for soap-making.'
'Externally, the oil has been recommended for various cutaneous complaints, such as ringworm, itch, etc. The fresh leaves are used by nursing mothers in the Canary Islands as an external application, to increase the flow of milk.'
'The oil varies much in activity - the East Indian is the more active, but the Italian has the least taste.'
'Castor Oil is an excellent solvent of pure alkaloids and such solutions of Atropine, Cocaine, etc., as are used in ophthalmic surgery. It is also dropped into the eye to remove the after-irritation caused by the removal of foreign bodies.'
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