Castor oil is used as a laxative to treat occasional constipation . It was a widespread substance in the past, since it is a rather strong type of laxative, a so-called “purgative” which is one of the irritating / stimulating laxatives.
How does castor oil work?
Castor oil is extracted from the seeds of Ricinus Communis , an arborescent plant that belongs to the Euforbiacee family. It is an oil with a very unpleasant , almost colorless, and very dense taste .
It is mainly used as a purgative , as it contains 80% ricinolein and triglyceride of ricinoleic acid. The chemical characteristics that distinguish Castor Oil endow it with extremely rare properties in nature . By the action exerted by Ricinoleic Acid, Castor Oil acts by promoting the secretion of water and salts by the small intestine , increasing intestinal peristalsis and promoting the passage of feces towards the outside and the expulsion of feces themselves. As a rule, the laxative effect occurs after 6-12 hours after taking it through the emission of discharges of semi-liquid feces.
Castor seeds also contain a toxic substance – ricin – which can cause vomiting, seizures, arrhythmias and gastrointestinal bleeding up to coma and death. The ingestion of even a few castor seeds can be fatal due to the presence of ricin and the alkaloid ricinin, another toxic substance.
How is castor oil taken?
Castor oil is taken orally .
Side effects of Castor Oil
In general, prolonged use of any category of irritant / stimulant laxatives can lead to habituation because the intestine stops functioning properly and peristalsis is greatly reduced, leading to a condition known as “lazy intestine” . Since laxatives induce very energetic peristaltic contractions, if taken for excessively long periods of time this active ingredient can damage or alter the contraction capacity of the colon muscles , which are no longer able to contract independently. Furthermore, the use of castor oil as a laxative – something widespread until a few decades ago – can cause diarrhea , abdominal pain, dehydration, malabsorption .
Some toxic substances naturally contained in castor oil can cause vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, convulsions and arrhythmias , leading to extremely severe consequences such as coma and death.
Contraindications and warnings on the use of Castor Oil
Castor oil is a herbal remedy that should never be taken by children under two years of age , nor by pregnant women, since it can cause strong uterine contractions. He must also be taken on an empty stomach .
It is contraindicated in subjects suffering from gastrointestinal disorders other than occasional constipation (colitis, irritable bowel, intestinal obstruction)