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Is It Safe To Use Castor Oil For Treatment Of Constipation?

Castor oil is extracted from the castor beans by pressing ripe seeds.

Research suggests that castor oil works as a stimulant laxative for reducing constipation when taken by mouth. But it is not safe for everyone? Find out who should avoid castor oil.

Written by Tavishi Dogra |Updated : June 14, 2022 9:21 PM IST

Castor oil has been used as medicine for centuries to treat various health problems, such as constipation, osteoarthritis, skin disorders, and stimulating labour in pregnant women. It is commonly used as a natural remedy for relieving constipation. But is it safe to consume it? Studies have proved castor oil is effective at relieving constipation and works quickly. But it is not recommended for everyone, especially children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions. Read on to learn how to use castor oil to relieve constipation and what safety precautions you should take.

Castor Oil And Its Benefits

Castor oil is extracted from the castor beans by pressing ripe seeds. The seeds' outer covering (hull) contains a deadly poison called ricin. So, only castor seeds without the hull are used for producing oil. Besides treating constipation, castor oil is also used to start labour in pregnancy and start the flow of breast milk. Some people apply castor oil to the skin to ease osteoarthritis pain and in the eyes to soothe irritation. It is also used for birth control, leprosy, and syphilis. Some studies suggest that a single dose of castor seeds without the hulled can work as a contraceptive for up to 8-12 months. It is also believed that putting castor oil inside the vagina can prevent unwanted pregnancy or cause an abortion. Castor seed paste is also applied to the skin as a poultice for treating inflammatory skin disorders, boils, carbuncles, etc.

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How To Use Castor Oil For Constipation?

Research suggests that castor oil is a stimulant laxative for reducing constipation when taken by mouth. This is because ricinoleic acid, the primary fatty acid found in castor oil, causes the muscles of your intestinal walls to contract and push out the stool. Castor oil can cause a similar effect on the uterus, and that's why it is also used to induce labour.

  1. Usually, castor oil works very quickly. The typical amount for children is between 1-15 mL per day, depending on age.
  2. How to use it - Put the castor oil in the fridge for at least an hour to mask the taste. Then, add it to a glass of fruit juice and drink it. Flavoured castor oil preparations are also available in the market. You will see results within two to six hours after taking it.

Safety Concerns And Possible Side Effects

  1. Single castor oil is safe for most people but shouldn't be taken in the long term or in large doses. Using it continuously for more than a week or in quantities of more than 15-60 mL per day may lead to a loss of fluid and potassium in the body. It can also reduce the muscle tone in your intestines, leading to chronic constipation.
  2. Castor oil is not recommended for children under age 12 and people with certain health conditions. Pregnant women who are not at term should also avoid castor oil as it can cause the uterus to contract and bring on labour too early.
  3. You should avoid castor oil if you're taking diuretics, antibiotics, bone medicines, blood thinners and heart medicines. Also, don't take castor oil if you are breastfeeding or have a blocked intestine, unexplained stomach pain, or problems with your bile ducts or gall bladder.
  4. Like other stimulant laxatives, castor oil has a few side effects. It may cause stomach discomfort, cramping, nausea, diarrhoea and faintness in some people. It may also affect the absorption of nutrients in your intestines.

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