Consuming oils and using them to treat your hair and skin is becoming increasingly popular. Many oils have great health benefits when consumed, but others are not so good.
Where does castor oil fall in? Is it safe to consume castor oil? Is it beneficial?
The short answer is that castor oil is beneficial to consume when used in moderation. There’s a lot more to it than that, though, so keep reading to find out more.
Below, I cover the benefits of drinking castor oil including whether it’s helpful for constipation, to boost immunity and to lose weight. I also discuss whether you can drink it when pregnant, how to drink it and how much. Finally, I talk about possible side effects of drinking castor oil.
What Is Castor Oil?
Castor oil is a vegetable oil that comes from the castor bean plant. It is grown in Africa, Asia, and India, and has been used for centuries. To extract the oil, the beans are pressed until a clear yellow, viscus fluid comes out.
People have used castor oil for centuries to treat constipation, moisturize skin, to cook with, and even to fuel their lamps.
Today, we still recognize how useful castor oil can be for our bodies. It can moisturize skin, strengthen hair, relieve constipation, treat infections, and offer immune support.
Is Drinking Castor Oil Safe?
Castor oil is considered safe to ingest as long as you do so properly. You should always consult a doctor before beginning to ingest castor oil because it can have varying effects on different people.
Also, you’ll never need to ingest much castor oil. You’ll never drink it like a beverage. Besides leaving a gross taste in your mouth, consuming that much castor oil would make you seriously ill.
The reason that it’s important to consult a doctor before consuming castor oil is because too much can cause problems. We’ll go over the side effects later.
At first glance of the nutrition information, castor oil doesn’t seem to be all that healthy to ingest. It contains lots of fats and quite a bit of calories. Here’s the full breakdown:
However, despite its lack of obvious nutrition, castor oil can be quite good for you. It contains lots of Vitamin E as well as Omega-9 and Omega-6 fatty acids. These nutrients work together to work wonders inside your body — as long as you use it properly.
Now that you know drinking castor oil is usually safe, you’ll want to know, “what does drinking castor oil do?”
Health Benefits Of Drinking Castor Oil
As I said, as long as you are drinking castor oil safely and under the direction of a doctor, it can have a lot of great benefits.
Drinking Castor Oil For Constipation
One of the most common uses of castor oil is as a laxative. People have been using castor oil to help with constipation for centuries because it really works well. Castor oil is a stimulant, so it works to contract the muscles of the intestines, helping to push waste along.
Castor oil is composed of about 90% ricinoleic acid, and it also contains Omega-9 fatty acids. Both of these ingredients act as a natural laxative which is what makes castor oil so effective for constipation.
Ricinoleic acid also reduces the amount of liquid your intestines can absorb. The more liquid that is located inside your intestines, the easier the stool is able to move through the intestines.
Also, because castor oil is so thick and oily, it acts as a good lubricant inside the bowels. Not only does it stimulate the muscles of the bowel to contract, but its lubricating properties can help move stool through the digestive tract.
Ingesting a small amount of castor oil is a great way to relieve temporary constipation. However, castor oil should not be considered a cure, or be used long-term. If you have chronic constipation, it’s likely due to a more serious condition, and you should address it with your doctor.
Overall, it’s recommended to only use castor oil once every three months for constipation. For best results, consume one teaspoon of castor oil before bed for three nights in a row.
Drinking Castor Oil To Boost The Immune System
If you have trouble with getting sick too frequently, castor oil can potentially help. It contains antioxidants that fight off free radicals to protect the body’s cells.
Studies have also shown that castor oil can increase the number of T-11 cells found in the body. More T-11 cells means that the lymphatic system is stimulated. The lymphatic system plays a large role in the body’s immune system, so stimulation will only boost your body’s immune response.
Drinking Castor Oil For Detox
Occasionally consuming a castor oil cleanse is a good way to detox your body, specifically your intestines. Many people that choose to use a castor oil detox are those dealing with constipation. What many people don’t know is that a castor oil cleanse can even be used as a de-wormer.
We already know how well castor oil can benefit the intestines and help flush out stubborn waste. But, castor oil can also help remove impurities from the intestines, as well as strengthen the stomach.
Nutritive specialists suggest that doing a semi-regular castor oil detox cleanse can successfully purge your digestive system of harmful toxins. And yes, the ingredients in castor oil are so powerful that they can sometimes flush out parasites like tapeworms.
Remember, however, that castor oil should not be consumed very often. Because a castor oil cleanse is so potent and powerful, it’s only suggested to use one once every 4-5 months. Occasionally using these cleanses is a good way to help with chronic digestive problems.
If you decide to utilize a castor oil cleanse, there are a few ingredients you can mix it with:
- Hot Water: This isn’t the most tasty option because hot water won’t eliminate or mask the taste of castor oil. However, this is the best way to get rid of acid-reflux, gas, or swelling and bloating. Simply mix one teaspoon of castor oil with a cup of hot water.
- Add Ginger: Ginger can be great from relieving different digestive issues. Simply add one teaspoon of ginger powder with your hot water and castor oil for the best effect.
- Milk: Milk has a lot of nutrients in it, and it also helps neutralize stomach acid. Because of this, it’s a great option for when you’re feeling stomach discomfort or pain. Simply mix one teaspoon of castor oil with a cup of milk.
- Orange Juice: This juice is filled with antioxidants and Vitamin C. These properties combined with the powers of castor oil can help prevent kidney stones as well as keep your digestive system healthy. It is also the best option for masking the unpleasant taste of castor oil.
Drinking Castor Oil To Lose Weight
Some people will use castor oil to help them lose weight, but this isn’t really recommended. Castor oil isn’t considered a weight-loss supplement. It doesn’t have any weight-loss properties.
The way that people use castor oil to lose weight can be quite dangerous. As we know, castor oil can work as a very effective laxative. When used responsibly, and only occasionally, a castor oil laxative is great.
However, some people are misusing castor oil’s laxative properties to lose weight. Most people using a castor oil laxative are doing so because they’re uncomfortable or suffering. So, the amount of food they consume will still equal the amount of waste they’re losing.
However, people who are using castor oil laxatives for weight loss, are ensuring that they are consuming less food than what their body is disposing of.
This is not a safe thing to do, and it can lead to serious problems inside your body. There are better ways to go about losing weight, so please do not try to do this.
Can You Drink Castor Oil While Pregnant?
Maybe you’re here because you’re wondering, “can I drink castor oil while pregnant?” Or, “will drinking castor oil hurt my baby?”
There hasn’t been much research performed on the effects of using castor oil while pregnant. There aren’t any known side effects of drinking castor oil while pregnant, but this doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Because of this, it’s generally recommended that you avoid using castor oil while pregnant.
But, have you heard of drinking castor oil to bring on labor? Midwives have been using castor oil for centuries and swear by its effectiveness at inducing labor.
Is Drinking Castor Oil To Induce Labor Safe?
Does drinking castor oil induce labor?
A survey that was completed in 1999 showed that 93% of the midwives surveyed in the United States used castor oil to induce labor. Another study found that when castor oil is used, about 91% of women have their labor induced with little or no complications.
Of course, surveys are not always the most reliable sources of information, so we can’t know whether close to 93% of the United States population actually uses castor oil to induce labor or not.
The fact that 91% of woman in the study experienced induced labor with minimal side effects lead me to believe that it’s likely safe. However, further research needs to be done to determine how safe it might actually be.
So, can drinking castor oil harm the baby? Whether it is safe to use castor oil to induce labor is debatable. However, the fact that castor oil can successfully induce labor is well known.
Either way, I don’t recommend drinking castor oil during pregnancy.
One of the reasons that castor oil is so effective at treating constipation is that it causes the muscles of the intestines to contract. In the same way, castor oil can cause contractions in a pregnant woman to start the process of labor.
There is no set amount for how much castor oil each person should consume. How much you should take is going to vary depending on the person, and why they are consuming it.
A larger person is going to need to ingest more castor oil than someone who is smaller. Likewise, some using castor oil for constipation will need a different dosage than someone simply using it to boost their immunity.
Because there is such a discrepancy between how much one person should take versus another, you should always consult your doctor.
Your doctor will be able to take your height and weight into account, the conditions or diseases you suffer from, as well as your overall health. This is what they’re trained for. Your doctor will be able to safely prescribe a dose of castor oil specifically for your body and your desired use.
However, if you cannot see a doctor for any reason, you should still know what limits are safe. Dr. Mercola of the World Health Organization says that a person should not ingest more than 0.7 mg/kg body weight.
Without doing the math, this is approximately one teaspoon for children, or one tablespoon for adults.
It’s important to note that, no matter what your reason for taking it, castor oil should NEVER be used long-term. When used for too long a time, castor oil can begin damaging the body, and you’ll notice some unpleasant side effects.
We’ll cover these side-effects later in this article. For now, just know that it’s not desirable.
The Best Way To Drink Castor Oil
Castor oil is a very potent substance that is very strong when used in its pure form. If you use it without any dilution, you’re likely to experience unpleasant side-effects.
This applies whether you’re consuming castor oil, or using it on your skin. When used topically, castor oil should always be mixed with a carrier oil. Without a carrier oil, castor oil is much more potent, and you’re significantly more likely to experience skin irritation.
Similarly, if you consume pure castor oil, you are more likely to experience irritation or sickness. Not to mention, castor oil does not taste very good, so you probably wouldn’t want to drink it on its own, anyway.
The best way to consume castor oil is to simply mix it into your favorite drink. Most drinks will mask the taste and the texture of the oil so that you won’t even know it’s there.
Still, castor oil does have a very strong and distinct taste to it. If you really want to ensure that you can’t taste it, mix it into a juice or a fruit smoothie. The strong flavors of the fruit are usually more than enough to mask the taste of the castor oil.
Other people choose to mix their castor oil into their ice cream. This probably isn’t the most sustainable option as it isn’t exactly healthy to eat ice cream every day. However, while you’re enjoying your occasional treat, feel free to mix in a bit of castor oil. You’ll likely not even notice it’s there.
Possible Side Effects Of Drinking Castor Oil
While using castor oil is generally safe, there is always the potential to experience side effects. Ingesting castor oil is always more risky than using it topically, but it’s possible that your skin may not agree with the oil either.
Topical Side Effects
Most people are sensitive to something, so it’s possible that you could be allergic or have a skin sensitivity to castor oil. If this is the case, there are some side effects you may experience:
- Allergies: Those allergic to castor oil may experience itching, swelling, or rashes
Ingestion Side Effects
Similarly, people who ingest castor oil may find that they are allergic or sensitive to the product.
Consuming Too Much
Also, it’s important to consult a doctor before ingesting castor oil so that you use the correct dosage. Oftentimes, people who are normally okay with castor oil may experience negative side effects simply because they ingest too much.
Here are some side effects you may experience from ingesting castor oil:
- Allergies: Those with a food allergy to castor oil may experience itching or burning of the throat, swelling, or trouble breathing
- Nausea: caused by over ingestion
- Cramps: caused by over ingestion
- Dizziness: caused by over ingestion
- Muscle weakness: caused by over ingestion
To reduce your possibility of experiencing these symptoms, always follow the direction of your doctor, and never consume castor oil on an empty stomach.
Nausea, cramps, dizziness, and muscle weakness are common problems when you consume castor oil. However, it is possible to consume entirely too much castor oil which can lead to more extreme complications. Here are some side effects you might experience because of an overdose:
- Abdominal cramps
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
If you begin to experience these symptoms after ingesting castor oil, you should be taken to a hospital immediately.
Long-Term Laxative Use
Even if you’re taking castor oil at a safe dosage, it can still lead to complications over time. Remember how I said castor oil shouldn’t be used for long-term constipation? There is a reason for that besides the likelihood of you having an underlying condition.
If you consume castor oil too often, over time, you’ll begin to develop damage to your digestive system. Damage to your digestive tract can lead to complications with your electrolytes, and can also cause dehydration.
Castor Oil & Medications
You should also take caution if you’re planning to take castor oil but are taking medication. There are some medications that do not work well with castor oil, and it can be quite dangerous to consume. These medications include:
- Adrenal corticosteroids
- Licorice root
You should NEVER consume castor oil if you are taking either of these medications. Combining castor oil with these medications can cause your potassium levels to drop to extremely low levels.
As you now know, castor oil has a lot of great benefits when you use it on your hair and skin. You can never go wrong with castor oil if you’re treating dry skin or brittle hair.
Consuming castor oil is a bit different, though. Most often, it is safe and effective to drink small amounts of castor oil. It can help with digestion, constipation, and immune support.
Still, you must be careful when consuming castor oil. Always consult a doctor first. If you take too much, you can overdose. If you take a small amount too often, you can become very sick.
If you’re safe about it, castor oil can be a great tool to aid in your digestive health.
Learn more! Click here for more information about using castor oil as a moisturizer and here for how it compares with olive oil. You can also find all our guides to castor oil here.