Castor Oil – Types, Benefits, and Uses

Sarah Gaur

January 1, 2022

Castor oil is a type of vegetable oil made from castor beans. It has almost become a buzzword in recent times. Just seeing it listed as an ingredient in skincare or haircare products gives you an incentive to buy castor oil. Of course, this is not without good reason. Castor oil provides several health benefits, from relieving constipation to improving skin and hair health.

The castor plant is originally from Ethiopia in East Africa. However, it now grows in various tropical and temperate regions worldwide. The usage of castor oil dates back to ancient Egypt, where ancient Egyptians protect one’s eyes from irritation. They also added it as an ingredient in facial oils. In addition, castor oil lamps were quite popular.

Types of Castor Oil

There are two types of castor oil: black castor oil and yellow castor oil.

Roasting castor beans create black castor oil. As a result of this roasting process, you find residue ashes. These ashes are mixed with the extracted oil, making it black. Cosmetologists add them to hair care products for thick or dry hair. Black castor oil has a higher alkaline value than the other type.

On the other hand, yellow castor oil is made by cold pressing the castor beans. This variant is pure castor oil. The difference is that this oil has a lower pH than black castor oil. One finds them in both hair care and skin care products.

Nutritional Value Castor Oil

Castor oil is edible. The nutritional value of one tablespoon of castor oil is:

  • Calories: 120
  • Fat: 14 g

Castor oil is also rich in vitamin E and ricinoleic acid. The latter is a monounsaturated fatty acid.

Health Benefits of Castor Oil

The usage of castor oil both internally and externally has various benefits. Here is a list of the many health benefits of castor oil:

1. May Help Relieve Constipation

Castor oil is a natural stimulant laxative. Fatty acids in castor oil cause the intestinal muscles to contract and clear the bowels. As a result, one gets temporary relief from constipation. This benefit is primarily through the oral consumption of this oil.A study on older adults shows that the usage of castor oil packs reduced symptoms of constipation. These symptoms include lesser straining during the bowel movement and relief and emptiness after the bowel movement.

2. May Reduce Inflammation

Due to the presence of ricinoleic acid, castor oil contains anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties. In an observational study, ricinoleic acid has anti-inflammatory effects. Another study stated that applying a gel containing ricinoleic acid onto the skin decreases pain and inflammation compared to other treatments.

3. May Moisturise Skin

As mentioned earlier in this article, castor oil is a common ingredient in certain cosmetic products like moisturisers, cleansers, etc. Ricinoleic acid contains hydrating and moisturising properties that are present in this oil. Here, ricinoleic acid acts as a humectant by preventing water loss and retaining moisture. Castor oil could also be an excellent alternative to harmful, inorganic store-bought moisturisers. In addition, it may be able to help relieve the dry, irritated skin of people with psoriasis.

4. May Aid in Dental Health

Castor oil contains antifungal properties that may help improve dental health. It may help fight fungi that cause dental problems like root canal infections, plaque overgrowth, and so on. For example, a test-tube research study suggests that castor oil can help eliminate Candida albicans (a type of fungus) from contaminated root canals. 

Another study conducted on older adults who had denture-related stomatitis showed that using a treatment with castor oil reduced its symptoms.

5. Help Reduce Acne

Castor oil can help deal with specific symptoms of acne. As mentioned earlier, castor oil has anti-inflammatory properties, so that helps reduce all inflammation-related acne symptoms. It also contains antimicrobial properties which help prevent or reduce bacterial growth related to acne. Also, due to the presence of ricinoleic acid, it can even help soothe irritated and inflamed skin. A recent study indicated that castor oil helped treat acne.

6. Help Heal Wounds

Castor oil can help reduce symptoms that may cause infection or delay wound healing. In addition, it may help stimulate tissue growth, reduce dryness, and decrease the accumulation of dead skin cells. A research study covered 861 nursing home residents with ulcers. The findings of this study showed that an ointment containing castor oil had higher healing rates and shorter healing times when compared to the other treatment methods used.

7. Improves Hair Health

Castor oil is excellent for dry and damaged hair. Studies show that fats like castor oil moisturise the hair shaft. As a result, it helps decrease the chance of breakage. Castor oil can also help moisturise the dry, flaky, and irritated skin on the scalp. Since it has anti-inflammatory properties, it can also help reduce dandruff caused by seborrhoeic dermatitis.

Uses of Castor Oil

  • Castor oil is a popular ingredient in skincare products. It treats dry and flaky skin and keeps skin supple and moisturised. It also helps reduce acne.
  • Castor oil can is a perfect alternative to store-bought moisturisers.
  • You can apply castor oil to your hair to moisturise it, prevent breakage and reduce dandruff.
  • You can consume castor oil orally. 
  • It works brilliantly as a laxative.
  • Used as a food preservative.
  • Famous as a lubricant for jet, diesel and racing engines.
  • Used as a biodiesel fuel component.

How to Use Castor Oil for Hair

Castor oil is a popular oil used to prevent hair loss and treat dandruff. Some say it can also promote hair growth. However, there is no research to support this statement. Here is an easy-to-follow method to use castor oil for your hair. One can follow this DIY method in the comfort of your own home. The steps include:

1: Wear an old t-shirt that you don’t mind staining.

2: Divide your hair into four sections or more if you have very thick hair.

3: Using an applicator brush, apply the castor oil to your scalp. Make sure to massage the oil into your scalp well.

4: Work the oil into the rest of your hair. You can use a comb to ensure that the oil coats the strands. Stop when the hair seems moist enough.

5: Gather your hair up and cover it with a shower cap. Make sure that no hair sticks out.

6: Leave it on for a minimum of 2 hours. Then, wash your hair using shampoo and conditioner as usual.

Castor Oil: Things to Remember

  1.  The safest quantity of castor oil you can consume is one tablespoon.
  2. One should not use castor oil daily. The maximum is once a week. When applied to hair, the maximum is twice or thrice a week.
  3. In terms of oral consumption, it takes 2-6 hours to relieve constipation. In terms of external application, it takes around 2-3 months to affect your skin and hair positively.
  4. Avoid consuming castor oil on an empty stomach.
  5. Possible side effects of excess consumption of castor oil are nausea, dizziness, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, and muscle weakness.
  6. It’s also possible to overdose on castor oil if you consume large amounts of it. Symptoms of an overdose on castor oil include shortness of breath, chest pain, and abdominal cramps.
  7. Pregnant women should not orally consume or externally apply castor oil to induce labour.
  8. Due to the lack of research, it’s probably safest for infants, children and breastfeeding women to avoid consuming or applying it.
  9. Avoid castor oil if you already take adrenal corticosteroids, liquorice root, or diuretics. It can lower your potassium to dangerous levels if combined with any of these.
  10. Though castor oil in small quantities is generally safe for consumption, one should not use it for long-term treatment.


Castor oil is versatile vegetable oil with many benefits and uses. Its benefits are very diverse, ranging from its anti-inflammatory properties to its ability to heal wounds. Unfortunately, it also has a few possible side effects. Therefore, one must take certain precautions when considering its consumption or usage. For that reason, it’s essential to make sure that you consult a doctor before consuming or using castor oil.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is castor oil used for?

A. You can use castor oil to treat constipation, stimulate hair growth, reduce acne, and so much more.

Q. What are the side effects of castor oil?

A. Excess consumption of castor oil can result in nausea, dizziness, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea and muscle weakness.

Q. Is castor oil good for hair loss?

A. Yes, castor oil is good for reducing hair loss. It moisturises the hair shaft and reduces the chance of breakage.

Q. Can we use castor oil daily?

A. No, you cannot use castor oil daily. If you want to consume it orally, you can use it once a week at most. However, you can use it maximum twice or thrice for applying on your hair.

Q. What is caster oil good for?

A. Castor oil is beneficial for several reasons. It helps reduce inflammation and relieves constipation. In addition, it is good for skin, hair and dental health. 

Q. What happens when you drink castor oil?

A. Castor oil acts as a laxative when you drink it. Laxatives help stimulate bowel movements and loosen up stool.

Q. How long does it take for castor oil to take effect?

A. In terms of oral consumption, it takes 2-6 hours to relieve constipation. An external application takes around 2-3 months to affect your skin and hair.

Q. Is castor oil bad?

A. No. As long as you use it in adequate quantities, castor oil is good for your health. It helps relieve constipation and reduces inflammation. In addition, it is good for your skin, hair and dental health.

About the Author

A nutritionist by profession and a writer by passion, Sarah holds an MSc. in Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics from Symbiosis Institute of Health Sciences, Pune. She believes in changing lives, one meal at a time with a holistic approach towards overall healing. Her mission is to modify the nutritional habits and behaviors of our next generation to optimize their long-term health and reduce the likelihood of metabolic diseases. Apart from working, she loves to sing, swirl scribble and spread smiles.

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