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Castor oil

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Castor oil plant.jpg

Castor Oil is a vegetable oil that originates from the plant seeds of Ricinus communis. Castor Oil decays easily when left in the environment, is a non-poisonous solution, and can be used as a renewable resource. It’s an annual plant that, with help, can survive throughout the ever-changing weather to grow and develop their seeds. Within the seed, the plant has vegetable oils, which in turn holds triglycerides or, more commonly known, fatty acids. Some common fatty acids that comprise the Castor seed oil are Ricinoleate, Oleate, and Linoleate. Castor Oil is accepted as laxative by the FDA of America. Its components are used to make a number of recognized drugs such as anticancer drugs, antifungal drugs, heart and blood pressure drugs, HIV drugs, and organ transplant drugs.[1]


Castor Oil is first seen in the time of the ancient Egyptians, where it was used for medical purposes. [2] A man by the name of Herodotus discovered this plant during the period of ancient Egypt. He called it Kiki, which was used as a furnishing by the Egyptians in their tombs where they also used the seeds of the plant. It is assumed that the plant had already been distributed throughout Greece, who still produces it. In the Bible, the book of Jonah talked of a gourd called the Kikajon which is also concluded to be the one and the same Ricinus communis. It is mentioned to have been used by the Egyptians, not only as furnishings, but as lamp oils and ointments. A man named Dioscorides describes the manufacturing of the Castor oil plant and its medicinal value. It is also known that it was used as a purgative back then as well. Throughout the Middle Ages and in Europe, the Bishop of Ratisbonhad grew it within the thirteenth century, but it was abandoned for a while. In 1597, a different man named Gerard called it Oleum cicinum and wrote that it was administrated to people for skin diseases. In Europe, the use of the plant for medicine had almost altogether faded away and instead, the supplies needed in order to make Castor Oil came specifically from Jamaica. From there, the plant’s name came from the word Agnus Castus. Its scientific name originated from the Latin word Ricinus, which means dog-tick.[3]

Castor Oil Plant

Castorbean (Ricinus communis)

The Ricinus communis, commonly called the Castorbean plant, was first recorded to have been used in Ancient Egypt. [4] It is also an indigenous plant to India. This plant's size varies depending upon which area it grows in. For example, it can grow to be a tree around thirty to forty feet high in favorable tropical regions. It's narrower size measures ten to fifteen feet high in warm Mediterranean countries such as Egypt, Greece and Algeria. In northern countries, the Castor Oil plant grows to a height of four to five feet tall. It is a shrub with thick, cylinder-shaped stems and a purple top. [5]

The leaves of the Castor Oil plant grow palmately, or with four or more leaflets sprouting from the stem. They span from six to eight inches across with sharp, jagged ends. Their color changes from a brilliant red to a bluish green as they grow older. Concerning the reproductive system, the Castor Oil plant has both male and female parts that develop on a spike. The male flowers are on the underside of the spike and have unique characteristics. They have a calyx, the outermost parts of the flower, which contains much yellow stamina. The female part is located on the higher section of the plant and, like the male flower, has no corolla. The calyx of the female flower has a reddish hue and the ovary in the middle is surrounded by separated red styles. Its fruit is a green, uneven pod, not even an inch long, with soft spikes all around it. Though the seeds have many different shapes and sizes depending on their derivation, the average look of a Castor Oil seed is usually condensed and oval-shaped. The littler plants produce smaller seeds, whereas the tall trees bear larger seeds. The seed has a tough, grayish brown covering, but inside it has a thinner, more delicate layer. These seeds hold a poisonous material that could cause potential harm. They can be extremely lethal.[6]


Castor Oil has a boiling point of 313o C and a melting point of about -10o to -18o C. It has a very poor solubility in water with a flash point of 229o C. It is a colorless, adhesive substance with its own unique smell. Aside from its own physical properties, Castor Oil has many other health properties. Castor Oil is a combustible liquid that, if ingested, can cause a number of serious health effects such as: abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. To prevent any unnecessary spills, it is safer to keep Castor Oil in a carefully sealed container. This liquid can result in dermatitis of the skin if under a small amount of contact or exposure. [7]

Castor Oil is made up of substances that make it unique towards other fats and oils because it contains an 18-carbon hydroxylated fatty acid with one single double bond, is a ricinoleic acid which makes up about ninety percent of the its fatty acid structure, it has a high uniformity and consistency, and it is a safe substance that decays easily in the environment and can be used multiple times. [8]


Castor Oil had a wide range of uses for all around the world. It was once commonly used as a laxative, reaching its desired effect within the time period of only three to five hours. If the substance is used with a higher intake, it becomes a purgative or a medicine for emptying a person's bowels. This has proved very useful in the event of a poisoning. [9] Castor Oil has a profound effect on the world of health and medicine. It has been used in helping pregnant women in childbirth. In Peru, they manufacture a certain form of Castor Oil called the balsam of Peru, which was employed to help in curing skin problems. Castor Oil also acts as a chemo modulator and helps fight as an anti-cancer drug. Its properties create an anti-cancer drug called Cremophor, making it indispensable for other jobs such as battling tumor cells. Castor Oil also has its part in many other functions for example in deodorants- a protection against bacteria, dental administrations, for healing cuts, arthritis, antibiotics- take one teaspoon a day with regular food intake for five days, and ear infections- applying the oil into your ear for a few days. This oil is also used for personal hygiene and food flavorings- like in candy and chocolate, soaps, creams, shampoos, perfumes, and lipsticks. [10]

Inside the seed of the Castor plant, ricin is also found, which is harmful if inhaled or consumed. But on the other hand, it can be used as an aid called magic bullets (which work by targeting on cancer cells) to eradicate cancer.[11]

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