EXPLORING THE CASTOR OIL PLANT
Have you ever wondered about the magic of castor oil? What is the plant like? How is the oil extracted? What are the benefits associated with using the oil? Well, look no further! Today, it is my plan for us to explore the life of the castor oil plant.
What is castor oil?
The Castor Oil plant is a prickly looking plant which grows generously in wastelands in tropical regions. According to Wikipedia: “Castor oil is a vegetable oil obtained by pressing the seeds of the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis). The common name “castor oil”, from which the plant gets its name, probably comes from its use as a replacement for castoreum, a perfume base made from the dried perineal glands of the beaver (castor in Latin).”
The castor oil is made from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant. It is often grown as an ornamental garden plant in milder climates and is now cultivated on a large scale for biodiesel manufacture.
Castor oil has been around for a very long time and has been widely used for medicinal purposes in its native lands spread across Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and the Mediterranean basin. It is one of the first vegetable oils to be used for industrial purposes because of its high viscosity and lubricating property. In fact, the automotive lubricant company Castrol derives its name from castor oil.”
Without a doubt, I am sure that you know about castor oil as a laxative – it’s more commonly used way. But this unique vegetable oil has so many wonderful uses that it needs to be addressed formally – here and now!
Extracting castor oil
The most common way of extracting the oil from the castor oil seed is by drying it, then allowing the seed hull to crack and then you can get the seeds easily from the pods by hand or with the help of hulling machines. The seeds contain about 50% of the oil. They are then cleaned, cooked, and then dried before crushed using a high pressure, continuous screw press called the expeller.
Once the oil is extracted, it is filtered, and then the material is re-extracted again along with some fresh seeds. Once finished, the extracted material is called a castor cake which contains 8-10% oil. It is then crushed into a coarse meal, then continued extraction using heptane to extract more oil.
After extraction, the impurities in the oil need to be filtered. The process removes particles, water, dissolved gasses, and acids using a filter press. This is called a crude or unrefined oil.
Advantages of using castor oil
- it is a natural oil
Disadvantages of using castor oil
- it is potentially poisonous if administered incorrectly
- can be a very heavy and thick oil
- can induce labor in pregnant women, hence it is advised not to use while pregnant
The Magic of Castor Oil
There are quite a few benefits to be derived from using castor oil, either internally or externally. I have listed a few below:
- natural laxative – for people who need a little detox or extra help with regular bowel movements, castor oil can come to the rescue. It is best to purchase refined, internal usage castor oil at any pharmacy over the counter. You do not need a doctor’s prescription, however, please consult with medical authority if the recommended use is advantageous. You may get castor oil in capsule or liquid form.
- soothing muscle aches – castor oil is considered a warm oil that promotes the circulation of fluids in the body. It is excellent as a massage oil, and can even relieve the soreness associated with a heavy sports workout. Simply apply some castor oil on sore muscle area, massage it in, and allow it to do its job. Castor oil is a good carrier oil for use with essential oils. You can add a few drops of essential oils like chamomile or peppermint oil to about a tablespoon of castor oil, warm the oil between the hands and then massage the body.
- treating fungal infections – applying castor oil to any area where there is a fungus is a great way to minimize and even get rid of the issue.
- promoting hair growth – castor oil is no stranger to women and men alike when it comes to hair growth. You can simply apply the oil by itself or combine it with other oils and then massage into the scalp a few times per week.
- natural sleep aid – as more and more people are becoming victims of sleepless nights. It is suggested that a minimum of 7 to 71/2 hrs. is what we should all strive for, however, if not achievable, then we can use some castor oil to reach nirvana. It has not been established just how the sleep is induced, however, people have said that its use is effective when used around the eyes, or on the hair. One way is also to dab a bit of the oil on your eyelids before going to sleep and wait for the oil to start working.
- moisturizer for skin and hair – mixing some castor oil with other oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, is already a great combination. I always use castor oil when I am making my whipped shea butter for use in my hair and on my skin.
- treating sunburns – using castor oil as a deflector of the sun’s UV rays is another great use. Because the oil is thicker in viscosity, it will take a longer time for the rays to penetrate the dermis; in effect, it acts a layer. if after your sun-bathing, your skin feels tight and burnt, you can also use the oil to moisturize and soothe the skin.
- treating acne – simply dab a cotton swab into the oil and allow to soak into the pimple area.
- food additive and preservative – castor oil is frequently used in the food industry as an additive and also as a preservative. It is used to coat dried grains and pulses to be stored for a long time. It has a double duty effect of repelling insects during the storage process as well.
- biodiesel – castor oil can be used in the production of biodiesel for cold winters.
Where to buy castor oil
You can easily purchase castor oil from your local pharmacy, general supermarket, or online marketplaces. One of the more common is Amazon, I have two suggestions below.
My Final Thoughts
I use castor oil mainly for my hair. It is a great moisturizer and deep conditioning agent. When I was younger, my mother would give all the children some castor oil to help detox us and help regular bowel movements. Today, I ensure that my nutritional is on spot – eating a good amount of fruits and vegetables.
I would love to hear your feedback so please a comment in the comment section. Thank you for stopping by.