|photo by ana traina|
Castor Oil is regarded as one of the most valuable laxatives in medicine. It is of special service in temporary constipation and wherever a mild action is essential, and is extremely useful for children and the aged. It is used in cases of colic and acute diarrhea due to slow digestion, but must not be employed in cases of chronic constipation, which it only aggravates whilst relieving the symptoms. It acts in about five hours, affecting the entire length of the bowel, but not increasing the flow of bile, except in very large doses. The mode of its action is unknown. The oil will purge when rubbed into the skin, or injected. It is also used for expelling worms, after other special remedies have been administered.
The only serious objections to the use of Castor Oil are its flavor and the sickness often produced by it. The nauseous taste may be disguised by administering it covered by Lemon oil, Sassafras oil and other essential oils, or floating on Peppermint or Cinnamon water, or coffee, or shaken up with glycerine, or given in fresh or warmed milk, the dose varying from 1 to 4 teaspoonful. Probably the best way, however, is to administer it in capsules. Small repeated doses may be given in the intestinal colic of children.
It may also be made into an emulsion with the yolk of an egg or mucilage; or with orange-wine or gin.
Castor Oil forms a clean, light-colored soap, which dries and hardens well and is free from smell. It has been recommended for medicinal use. The inferior qualities of the oil are frequently employed in India for soap-making.
Externally, the oil has been recommended for various cutaneous complaints, such as ringworm, itch, etc. The fresh leaves are used by nursing mothers in the Canary Islands as an external application, to increase the flow of milk.
The oil varies much in activity - the East Indian is the more active, but the Italian has the least taste.
Castor Oil is an excellent solvent of pure alkaloids and such solutions of Atropine, Cocaine, etc., as are used in ophthalmic surgery. It is also dropped into the eye to remove the after-irritation caused by the removal of foreign bodies.
Excerpts from Maude Grieve's Modern Herbal
BITS OF ODDS AND ENDS: Give them a good dose of castor oil. Moles are carnivores that make themselves at home in lawns rich in grubs and insects. When their food is seasoned with castor oil, they will go elsewhere for meals. (I would!) Mix up a spray of 3 parts castor oil to 1 part dish detergent; use 4 tablespoons of this concoction in a gallon of water, and soak the tunnels and the entrances. Check your soil for the presence of pests; if you have a lot of moles, you probably have an oversupply of grubs and bugs.
CAUTION! The castor oil plant has prickly fruits, each fruit carrying 3 seeds. All parts are poisonous, especially the beans. Castor beans affect all animals and humans. Even one of them may be sufficient to cause death. They contain some of the strongest toxins of our planet’s flora: the alkaloid ricinin and the toxalbumin ricin, the latter being a plant lectin, or protein, more toxic even than strychnos and cyanides. What is more, it has the ability to accumulate in the organism until the lethal dose is reached. The symptoms then are nausea and vomiting, stomachache, bloody diarrhea, headache, cold sweat, sleepiness, disorientation, fever, shortage of breath, seizures, followed by a collapse and death.