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Castor Oil: Are There Health Benefits for the Hair & Body? by Diane Shawe

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I assist various clients from various backgrounds to overcome or disguise hair loss or damaged hair challenges. Most of them want to learn how to stimulate faster, stronger healthier hair growth. There are many hair growth products in the market place but, I am going to take a look at Castor Oil in particular today, mainly because it is a natural product and not many people understand it’s properties.

Castor oil is a thick, odorless oil made from the seeds of the castor plant. Its use dates back to ancient Egypt, where it was first used as lamp fuel and later for medicinal and beauty treatments — Cleopatra reportedly believed the oil would brighten the whites of her eyes.

Today, most of the world’s castor oil is produced in India. Modern research backs up some of its traditional uses, including laxative effects, anti-inflammatory properties, and the ability to help induce labor. 

While studies continue to investigate other potential health benefits, castor oil is considered safe if used as directed, and can be found in a range of skin and hair care products sold today. Pure castor oil is also available at many specialty health stores. 

You can put the oil directly on your skin and scalp or take it orally in small amounts. Some people also make castor “oil packs.” Castor oil packs are made of cloth that is soaked in castor oil and applied to affected areas. Because of its potency, castor oil is not used in cooking or added to food. 

Firstlys we must outline that there are two types of castor oil available.

• yellow castor oil, made by cold pressing fresh castor beans

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• black castor oil, made by roasting the castor beans and then using heat to extract the oil

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Further on in this article we will outline the differences, uses, benefits and risks.

Nutrition Information

A one-tablespoon serving of castor oil contains: 

• Calories: 120

• Protein: 0 grams

• Fat: 14 grams

• Carbohydrates: 0 grams

• Fiber: 0 grams

• Sugar: 0 grams

Castor oil is a good source of: 

•  Vitamin E

•  Omega-9 f atty a cids

•  Omega-6 f atty a cids

More than 90% of castor oil’s fatty acid content is ricinoleic acid. Research shows that this omega-9 has pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects. When applied to the skin may help relieve issues like joint pain and menstrual cramps.

Potential Health Benefits of Castor Oil

Castor oil is a common ingredient in many beauty products. It’s rich in essential fatty acids that moisturize the skin, and research continues to study how their properties may be effective in treating common skin conditions. 

Castor oil has also been used to help pregnant women with delivery for centuries. In fact, a survey from 1999 found that 93% of midwives in the U.S. used castor oil to induce labor. While further research is needed, one study found that castor oil initiated labor in 91% of women with little to no childbirth complications. 

Other potential health benefits associated with castor oil include: 

Laxative Properties

One of castor oil’s most traditional uses is to stimulate digestion, relieving temporary constipation. Modern research has found that this effect is due to the oil’s high levels of ricinoleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid that acts as a natural laxative. 

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Studies show that castor oil’s ricinoleic acid reduces swelling and pain caused by inflammation. Research suggests that, when applied to the skin, castor oil may reduce arthritis symptoms more effectively than prescription topical treatments. More studies are needed to confirm this effect in humans.

May Heal Wounds

Castor oil’s fatty acids are natural humectants, substances used to moisturize the skin by preventing water loss. This effect can promote good skin health, relieve dryness, and soothe skin inflammation.

It may also have the potential to accelerate wound healing. Castor oil is a triglyceride that has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Research shows that, when applied to the skin, it may prevent infection, reduce inflammation, improve localized blood flow, and shed damaged skin cells — all of which help skin’s healing process.

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Treats Some Skin Conditions

Castor oil can benefit overall skin health, but may treat specific skin conditions as well. Though there’s a lack of clinical research, its combination of antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and moisturizing effects is thought to help treat some causes of acne. One study showed that castor oil also fights fungal infections, which may help relieve hard-to-treat fungal acne. 

Other studies have found castor oil helpful in the treatment of melasma, dandruff, and ringworm. 

Potential Risks of Castor Oil

When applied to the skin, castor oil is considered safe for most people to use. However, its dermatological effects are still being studied, so be sure to follow your doctor’s advice when treating any skin conditions.

If you take it internally, castor oil’s potent fatty acids can pose health risks. Castor oil is a powerful laxative. It is recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a way to relieve temporary constipation, but it isn’t suitable for long-term treatment. Use castor oil in small amounts and be sure to consult with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you.    

What is Ricin

Castor beans naturally contain the poison ricin. If you chew and swallow castor beans, ricin can be released and cause injury. Ricin is also in the waste that is produced in the manufacture of castor oil. Castor oil does not contain ricin.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that it is highly unlikely to be intentionally exposed to ricin unless you were to actually eat castor beans. The CDC also indicates that ricin has been the focus of medical experiments to kill cancer cells.

Some health risks associated with castor oil use include:

Allergies

Some people may be allergic to the castor plant and experience itching, swelling, or rashes when using castor oil.

Physical Discomfort

Ingesting too much castor oil can cause nausea, cramps, dizziness, and muscle weakness. Use it as advised by your doctor and don’t take it on an empty stomach. 

Pregnancy Concerns

Because castor oil may help induce labor, pregnant women should avoid it. There is also a lack of research on its effects on infants, children, and breastfeeding women. 

Medication Interactions

If taken with diuretics, adrenal corticosteroids, or licorice root, castor oil may reduce the potassium content in your body to dangerously low levels.

Overdose

Taken orally, large amounts of castor oil can be poisonous. Symptoms of overdose include abdominal cramps, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Use castor oil as directed to avoid unintentional overdose. 

Digestive System Damage

Long-term laxative use can cause damage to your digestive system and can even cause electrolyte abnormalities or dehydration. While castor oil can provide occasional constipation relief, you should talk to your doctor to discuss treatment options before consuming it

Using Castor Oil for Hair Growth

The most popular oil for hair growth is Black castor oil, which is made by roasting the castor beans and then using heat to extract the oil

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Because the method of starting with roasted beans was developed in Jamaica, black castor oil is often referred to as Jamaican black castor oil.

There are, however, many people who, supported primarily by anecdotal evidence, feel that using black castor oil on their hair promotes hair health and hair growth.

One way that proponents of black castor oil support their position is by aligning it with the benefits of other essential oils.

Although there are indications that many oils, such as peppermint oil (according to a 2014 studyTrusted Source) and lavender oil (according to a 2016 studyTrusted Source), have potential as hair growth-promoting agents, there is a lack of qualified studies on black castor oil and its effect on human hair.

• Benefits

• How to Use It

• What to Look For

• Side Effects

• Precautions and Concerns

Castor oil is often praised as a natural solution for hair growth. An age-old remedy long used in traditional medicine, castor oil is said to moisturize the scalp, ease dandruff, and leave your hair smooth, strong, and shiny.

Sourced from the castor bean, castor oil is rich in ricinoleic acid—a type of fatty acid known to fight inflammation.1 When applied to the scalp, it is thought to promote healthy hair growth and prevent hair loss.

This section discusses the benefits of castor oil for your hair along with how to use it. It also covers what to look for when choosing a castor oil product and the possible side effects you may encounter.

Benefits

Some of the claims you may have heard about castor oil’s benefits for hair include:

• Castor oil increases blood flow to the scalp, which promotes healthier hair.

• Applying it just once a month can boost hair growth up to five times the usual rate.

• Castor oil can moisturize a dry, irritated scalp.

• Castor oil’s antibacterial and antifungal properties can reduce dandruff.

There is very little evidence to back up the claims that castor oil specifically can improve hair health and growth.

There is, however, evidence that individual nutrients in castor oil, including vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate), increase blood flow to the scalp and promote hair growth. This explains why vitamin E is so commonly used in hair loss products.2

Castor oil is also a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants prevent free radicals from damaging the body’s healthy cells—a process known as oxidative stress that leads to hair loss.3

Additionally, castor oil contains omega-6 fatty acids—a type of essential fatty acid that promotes hair growth and reduces inflammation in the hair follicle.4

Recap

There is no scientific evidence that applying castor oil to your hair can boost hair health and growth. More research is needed, though, since specific nutrients in castor oil, like antioxidants and vitamin E, are well known to have these effects.

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How to Use It

If you’re interested in using castor oil for hair growth, try rubbing just a few drops of the oil into your scalp. You can also massage a few more drops into your hair’s midsection and ends. This may protect against breakage and improve your hair’s texture.

Castor oil is heavy and very sticky, making it difficult to remove from your hair. It’s best to dilute it with other natural oils like coconut or jojoba. This can also tone down the scent of castor oil, which many people find unpleasant. Simply mix one part castor oil with two parts of another “carrier oil.”

There are no exact guidelines for how long you should leave castor oil on your hair. Leaving it in too long can actually dry out your hair and scalp, though, so it’s best to wash it from your hair after two hours or so.

Many hair care experts recommend using castor oil no more than once a week. Using it more frequently than that can cause buildup and lead to issues like matting.

What to Look For

When shopping for castor oil, you might see some products that say “cold-pressed” on their labels. This means the castor seeds are pressed into oil without the use of heat or harsh chemicals. Many people say that cold-pressed oils are the best quality and more nutrient-rich than those processed with heat.

One of the most popular castor oil products for hair care is Jamaican black castor oil. This variety is made with roasted castor beans and the ash produced by the roasting process. Jamaican black castor oil is said to be especially good for thick, dry, and/or coarse hair.

Like any oil, castor oil has a shelf life. Once opened, it can start to go rancid after about one year, so keep that in mind when choosing a product and storing it at home.

Side Effects

There’s some concern that using castor oil as a hair treatment may lead to acute hair felting—a rare disorder in which the hair becomes tangled into a hard mass. Since the condition is irreversible, the only solution is to cut off the affected hair.5

It should also be noted that consuming large amounts of castor oil can be extremely harmful and trigger a number of adverse effects, including:

• Abdominal cramps

• Diarrhea

• Dizziness

• Fainting

• Hallucinations

• Nausea

• Shortness of breath and chest pain

• Skin rash

• Throat tightness

Applying castor oil to your hair shouldn’t cause these problems, but make sure that you or others don’t accidentally swallow it.

Precautions and Concerns

Castor oil can stain your clothes and towels. Take care to cover your head with a shower cap, an old t-shirt or towel until it’s time to wash your hair. This will prevent the oil from dripping onto your clothes or other items. Keep in mind that your hair may require two applications of shampoo in order to completely remove the castor oil.

If you’re thinking of using castor oil as a remedy for hair loss, remember that hair loss may be a sign of an underlying health problem. Therefore, it’s crucial to talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you notice unexplained hair loss.

Summary

Castor oil is popular among natural beauty enthusiasts, who claim that applying it to your hair can boost your hair’s health, shine, and growth. There is no scientific evidence to support these claims, although some nutrients in castor oil, like antioxidants and vitamin E, are known to be beneficial for hair health.

A Word From Diane Shawe

Hair loss is not just a symptom of getting older. There are many medical conditions that can lead to hair loss, including thyroid disease and alopecia areata. You can also lose noticeable amounts of hair during periods of severe mental or emotional stress.

If you find yourself losing large clumps of hair or you’re suddenly developing bald spots, get in contact with your doctor. When an underlying health condition is to blame, applying castor oil won’t help.

Types of Castor oil and Uses and

CASTOR OIL seeds

Castor oil, also known as a #1 grade Castor oil for products like soap making and general use- 

Castor oil is a widely used renewable, bio-degradable and eco-friendly product. It is useful in a wide range of D-I-Y applications including: Soap and lotion making, blending of lotions, salves, creams, shampoos, and more. It is  Vegetable Based, has no animal derived products, and there is No Animal Testing on our Castor Oil. It is GLuten free, and contains no Wheat, no Peanuts, no dairy, egg, fish, and is also solvent free .

On popular way to use castor oil is in soapmaking. It is a very useful, beneficial oil in soap making. It is typically used in relatively low percentages depending on the over-formulation and what other oils are used. The addition of the right amount of pure castor oil may enable soap to trace quicker, and make better soap. Plus. castor oil adds the benefit of better and more stable lather. Castor oil is an excellent moisturizer as it attracts and holds moisture to skin. Check your superfatting chart. Sometimes using castor oil will require more sodium hydroxide since it has a high ricinoleic acid content. In softer products, like shampoo bars and skin-care products it is excellent. In the right combination with over vegetable oils, however, it makes a very nice moisturizing and wonderfully emollient, hard bar of soap. Try castor oil in salves, balms, shampoos, hair oils, and other thick emulsions for the skin and hair. It is in all kinds of specialty formulations as a natural emollient and applied to the skin and hair as a softener.(keep away from eyes!)

Many customers tell us they use castor oil as a mole repellant in their yards. They blend it in  hose end yard sprayer  and spray in the mole holes to rid it of those pesky critters. One recipe passed along to us says to blend in 1 tablespoon of pure Decyl Glucoside with 12- 14 Oz of Pure Castor Oil. For a pump type sprayer add 1 Oz of Decyl Glucoside surfactant to every 32 Oz of Castor oil and then the balance of water up to 2 gallons to treat the mole holes. Spray at least half a gallon in and around the holes. Retreat as necessary. * In tougher situations try adding 2 Oz of natural NEEM OIL to the blend. This will also help with other pesky insects too.

Did you know that pure castor oil is a natural product, made from the beans of the castor plant which can be grown in any tropical region?. The world’s largest producer of castor oil is India, with China and Brazil being a far-distant second and third place.

It’s reported that castor Oil is one of the oldest,most versatile ingredients in use. The evidence of the use of castor oil  goes all the way back to ancient Egypt. It  has been found in tombs over 4,000 years old. There are other documented uses of castor oil in India, China and other ancient sites that date back thousands of years. In ancient times in the Netherlands, it was called “Wonder Oil” and was thought to be a cure for a multitude of ailments.

Castor Oil still has many useful applications today,from us as a cosmetic ingredient, to an industrial chemical and a specialty chemical. It is also a popular natural polyol, it is used in an increasing number of specialty applications, replacing traditional petroleum based polyols. Another advantage of Castor Oil is that it is not made from a food source so it is really not subject to the controversies that can arise with other plant based oils that are more traditionally used as a food source.

• CASTOR OIL INCI Name: Ricinus Communis Seed Oil

• CAS no: 8004-79-4

• EINECS no.: 232-293-8

What is SULFATED TURKEY RED CASTOR OIL

Sulfated Castor oil, is also called “Turkey red” castor oil

Sulfated Castor oil CAS 8002-33-3 Formula: C18H32Na2O2S

Sulfated Castor oil, also known as “Turkey Red” has a wide range of uses including: Soap and lotion making, blending of lotions, salves, creams, shampoos, and more. It is the only castor oil that completely disperses in water and will not leave an oily ring around the tub when you use it in your products to emulsify colors, fragrance and essential oils.

Features of Sulfated Castor/ Turkey Red

• Turkey Red Castor oil completely disperses in water.

• Use it to emulsify fragrance and essential oils so they disburse completely in other water-based products

• Use for superfatting liquid soap so it remains transparent

• Excellent humectant & moisturizing properties

• Has a typical sulfated castor oil odor but is easily disguised in formulations using typical fragrance and essential oils.

Sulfated castor oil. also known as Turkey Red oil is very useful since it will completely disperse in water. It contains all of the same humectant and moisturizing properties of Cosmetic Castor Oil but in a water soluble form. Castor Turkey Red is a common addition to bath products, natural soaps, lotions etc. Try using it to formulation balms, shampoos, hair oils, and other thick emulsions for the skin and hair.

Sulfated Castor Oil is also seen in formulations as a natural emollient and applied to the skin and hair as a softener. (keep away from eyes!)

PEG 40 HYDROGENATED CASTOR OIL

PEG 40 Hydrogenated Castor oil –  is also a very popular derivative of castor oil

PEG 40 Castor oil, also known as Castor oil ethoxylate (POE 40) is a Multifunctional Oil-in-Water Emulsifier, surfactant, foam booster.

PEG 40 Castor oil is a multifunctional non ionic surfactant used as fragrance builder and fragrance solubilizer, emulsifier. PEG 40 can be incorporated in to a formulation to help solubilize PLUS act as a foam booster, which benefits the formulator by possibly eliminating a secondary surfactant, or lessening the use of a secondary surfactant for example.

In some formulations it is a good replacement for polysorbates used to incorporate fragrances and oils in to water based blends like shampoos and body washes. Whether you are making creams and lotions, floral waters, room and fabric sprays, body washes, shampoos, even bath bombs, and need a good solubilizer for colors, fragrances, give PEG 40 Castor oil a try.

It is a safe, easy to use, vegetable derived non ionic surfactant, and serves a number of useful purposes.

Out side of uses in the personal care formulations, ethoxylated castor oil POE 40 is found in lubricants, specialty formulations that have applications in metals, textiles and other areas too.

Non Ionic – Compatible with non-ionic, anionic, and cationic ingredients and products.

Useful as a surfactant (foam booster.) As an emulsifier, solubilizer, and foam booster.
Miscible in both oils and in water
Use in a heated oil, or in cool down phase at 1% to 10%, although it’s safe to use up to 100% (Neat) on skin.

Cloud Point: 185°F (85.0°C) 

Black Castor oil (Jamaican Black Castor oil)

Cold pressed Black Castor Oil (Jamaican Black Castor oil) also known as JBCO

Jamaican Black Castor Oil, JBCO for short, is a liquid extracted and cold-pressed from roasted seeds of the castor plant, known by the botanical / latin name Ricinus communis Seed

The difference between “regular ” castor oil and Jamaican Black Castor oil are that the seeds are roasted before the liquid castor oil is extracted from the seeds, This roasting process means that the oil has a dark burnt orange to reddish-brown appearance. It also has a different fragrance – it is a roasted nutty fragrance.

Roasting the seeds  also raises the pH level of Black Castor Oil which results in a preferred ingredient for making many hair and cosmetic formulations.

Black Castor Oil, or JBCO is very popular in skin and hair care products and formulations. Many cite that the JBCO improves hair growth, and use it to massage in to the hair. Other sources cite that the black castor oil may improve circulation, to help stimulate follicles. Products made with the black castor oil often advertise that it helps moisturize the hair and eliminates hair  split ends, and it is used as an alternative to, or even in addition to traditional hair conditioners.

Typical Uses: Skin and Hair Care, hair conditioning, personal care products, Medicinal type topical products, Ayurveda

WHERE TO BUY CASTOR OIL