Castor oil, a rich vegetable oil derived from the seeds of the castor plant, was once a well-known internal remedy for treating constipation. The oil is rarely consumed today, but it still has numerous beneficial external uses. Castor oil remedies may reduce inflammation, hydrate dry skin and hair, reduce skin growths such as warts and corns, and even encourage healing of the organs. Although considered safe for topical use, always consult a physician before treating serious medical conditions with castor oil or any other home remedies.
Castor Oil Pack
Holistic practitioners use castor oil packs for treating a variety of ailments. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a castor oil pack applied to the throat can help relieve inflammation caused by hyperthyroidism. When applied to the chest, a castor oil pack may also reduce chemotherapy symptoms in lung cancer patients while aiding the lungs in detoxification. To make a castor oil pack, saturate a clean cotton cloth in the oil, apply directly to the skin, and cover with a heating pad or hot water bottle. Leave on for at least 30 minutes and repeat up to once daily as needed. Use castor oil packs anywhere on the body to relieve inflammation and promote healing of the internal organs. You can also apply a castor oil pack to the lower back during a bout of constipation to encourage a bowel movement.
Castor Oil Wart Remover
A traditional natural remedy for getting rid of warts, castor oil contains acid that is believed to irritate warts and eventually dissolve them completely. While scientific evidence is lacking, castor oil is used in numerous home remedies for this purpose. In her book "The Natural Remedy Book for Women," Diane Stein recommends mixing 1 part baking soda with 2 parts castor oil to form a thick paste and rubbing the mixture into the affected area before bedtime. Cover with a bandage and allow the mixture to remain until morning. Repeat each night until the warts disappear, which can take a few days to a few weeks, depending on severity.
Castor Oil Corn Softener
Castor oil moisturizes dry, rough skin, which makes it effective in softening corns. Bill Gottlieb, author of "Alternative Cures: More Than 1,000 of the Most Effective Natural Home Remedies," recommends applying a non-medicated corn pad and then coating the corn with a thin layer of castor oil. Use a cotton swab to get the oil into the hole in the corn pad if necessary. Cover with a small piece of adhesive tape to keep the oil against the corn throughout the day. Continue this practice daily until the corn disappears, which may take several days or weeks.
Skin and Hair Remedies
Castor oil has emollient, or softening and moisturizing, properties that make it effective in treating dry skin and hair. According to Donna Maria in her book "Making Aromatherapy Creams and Lotions," castor oil creates a protective barrier between the skin and harsh environmental conditions when used in homemade cosmetics. Make a moisturizing dry skin treatment by combining 1/2 cup castor oil, 2/3 cup olive oil and 20 drops essential oil of choice. Use essential oils that nourish dry hair such as lavender, rosemary, clary sage or jasmine for the best results. Massage into the skin as needed. Make a castor oil hair treatment by heating 1/2 cup of castor oil over low heat, massaging into the hair, leaving on for 30 minutes, and then shampooing and rinsing as usual.