Report on Castor Oil Side Effects and Usage

Castor Oil

Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using castor oil (Ricinus communis). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.

Warning 1 – Contraindications: Pregnancy and lactation. It is unknown if castor oil passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

Warning 2 – Antacids: To prevent a decrease in the absorption of castor, do not take it within 1 hour of using an antacid.

Warning 3 – Laxative: Although the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has categorized castor oil as “generally recognized as safe and effective” for over-the-counter use as a laxative, it may produce painful cramps, fecal incontinence and explosive diarrhea. These affects can go on for hours, sometimes unpredictably and powerfully causing an involuntary bowel movement at inconvenient locations and during sleep.

Used as a natural health remedy: castor oil has been used internally for the following benefits and conditions:

  • Bladder Infections
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Colic in Babies
  • Constipation as a laxative
  • Gallbladder Attacks
  • Immune System Boost for Cancer, HIV and Lupus patients
  • Inducin labor for child birth (controversial)
  • Insomnia
  • Intestinal Worms and Tape Worms
  • Menstrual Cramps
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Yeast Infections

Because of the toxic potential of castor oil, it is not recommended to take it orally unless under the supervision of a physician.

Castor oil has been used externally for the following benefits and conditions:

  • Acne
  • Anti-inflammatory (See other herbs for inflammation)
  • Arthritis
  • Foot Pain
  • Hair Loss; scalp and eyelashes
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Muscle Aches
  • Skin Infections
  • Sunburn

Castor oil has also been reported to help with sinus related anosmia. That’s the loss of the sense of smell. One drop is placed in the nostrils just before bedtime and immediately upon waking up. It may be a week before it takes effect.

Side Effects of Castor Oil

Many people using castor oil do not have serious side effects. The known side effects of using castor may include:

  1. Stomach pain
  2. Abdominal cramps
  3. Nausea
  4. Diarrhea
  5. Weakness

Other side effects may also occur when using castor. (See form below) If any of these symptoms persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

Serious allergic reactions to castor oil are rare however, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
  • Severe dizziness
  • Trouble breathing

Return to the Herb List.

For questions and answers about the side effects of herbs see the Herb Forum

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