CASTOR BEAN

OTHER NAME(S):

African Coffee Tree, Arandi, Bi Ma Zi, Bofareira, Castorbean, Castor Bean, Castor Bean Plant, Castor Oil, Castor Oil Plant, Castor Seed, Erand, Eranda, Gandharva Hasta, Graine de Ricin, Huile de Ricin, Huile de Ricin Végétale, Mexico Weed, Palma Christi, Ricin, Ricin Commun, Ricin Sanguin, Ricine, Ricino, Ricinus communis, Ricinus sanguines, Tangantangan Oil Plant, Wonder Tree.<br/><br/>

Overview

Overview Information

Castor is a plant that produces seeds (beans). Castor oil is produced by pressing ripe seeds that have had their outer covering (hull) removed. The hull contains a deadly poison called ricin. Castor oil has been used as medicine for centuries.

Castor oil is commonly used by mouth for constipation and bowel preparation prior to colonoscopy. It is also used orally to start labor in pregnancy. There is limited scientific research to support the other uses of castor oil and castor bean.

Ricin from the hull of the castor seed has been tested as a chemical warfare agent. Weapons-grade ricin is purified and produced in particles that are so small they can be breathed in. The smaller the particle size, the more poisonous the ricin. You may remember that ricin was found in letters sent to some Congress members and the White House, and in the possession of people linked to terrorist and antigovernment groups.

How does it work?

Castor bean is used to make castor oil, which is a strong laxative. In pregnancy, castor oil might start labor by stimulating the uterus.

Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Effective for

  • Bowel preparation before colonoscopy. Taking a single dose of castor oil is effective for bowel preparation in people undergoing a colonoscopy. However, castor oil might not be as effective as other bowel preparations, such as sodium phosphate or bisacodyl plus magnesium citrate.
  • Constipation. Castor oil works as a stimulant laxative for reducing constipation when taken by mouth.
  • Dry eyes. Using eye drops containing castor oil might be effective for people with dry eyes.
  • Starting childbirth in pregnant women. A single 60 mL dose of castor oil appears to start labor within 24 hours in at least half of women at term pregnancy who try it. There is also some evidence that women at term pregnancy whose "water has broken" are more likely to go into labor and are less likely to need a Cesarean section if they take castor oil.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Birth control. There is some evidence that a single dose of castor seeds with the outer coat removed (hulled) can work as a contraceptive for up to 8-12 months.
  • Swelling and sores in the mouth. Early research shows that using a specific castor oil mouthwash (Perioquil) 4 times daily for up to 30 days can improve the severity of mouth sores in elderly people who have dentures.
  • Syphilis.
  • Arthritis.
  • Skin disorders.
  • Boils.
  • Blisters.
  • Swelling (inflammation) of the middle ear.
  • Migraines.
  • Softening cysts.
  • Adhesive bowel obstruction.
  • Warts.
  • Bunions and corns.
  • Promoting the flow of breast milk.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of castor for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

Castor oil is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth as a single dose. In some people, castor oil can cause stomach discomfort, cramping, nausea, and faintness.

Castor oil seeds that have had the outer coat removed (hulled) are POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth as a single dose. Also, castor oil eye drops are POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the eye for up to 30 days.

Castor oil is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth long-term or in large doses. It might cause fluid and potassium loss from the body when used for more than a week or in doses of more than 15-60 mL per day.

The whole seed is UNSAFE to take by mouth. The outer coating (hull) of the castor seed contains a deadly poison. This outer coating can cause nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; abdominal pain; dehydration; shock; blood cell destruction; severe fluid and chemical disturbances; liver, kidney, and pancreas damage; and death. Chewing as few as 1-6 whole seeds can kill an adult. If the seed is swallowed whole, poisoning is less likely; however, prompt medical attention is still an absolute necessity.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Children: Castor oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in appropriate doses short-term (less than one week). Castor oil is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth for more than one week or at a high dose. Taking more than the typical children's dose of 1-15 mL per day, depending on age, can cause a chemical imbalance in the body. Castor seeds are UNSAFE if the whole seed is taken by mouth.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Using castor oil in pregnant women at term (ready to deliver) is POSSIBLY SAFE. Midwives routinely use castor oil for starting labor in pregnant women who are ready to deliver. However, castor oil should not be used for this purpose without the supervision of a healthcare provider. Also, it is LIKELY UNSAFE to use castor oil in pregnant women who are not at term. It might bring on labor too early. It is UNSAFE for women who are pregnant to take whole castor seeds by mouth, as it can cause serious toxic effects or death.

Don't take castor oil if you are breast-feeding. Not enough research has been done to know whether a mother's use of castor oil is safe for nursing infants.

Intestinal problems: Don't use castor oil if you have a blocked intestine, unexplained stomach pain, or problems with your bile ducts or gall bladder.

Interactions

Interactions?

Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

!
  • Water pills (Diuretic drugs) interacts with CASTOR BEAN

    Castor oil is a laxative. Some laxatives can decrease potassium in the body. "Water pills" can also decrease potassium in the body. Taking castor oil along with "water pills" might decrease potassium in the body too much.<br/><br/> Some "water pills" that can decrease potassium include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, HydroDIURIL, Microzide), and others.

Dosing

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • For constipation: 15 mL of castor oil is commonly used.
  • For cleaning the bowel before surgery or examining the colon (colonoscopy): The dose for adults and children over 12 is 15-60 mL of castor oil given 16 hours before the procedure. For children age 2-11 years, 5-15 mL is typically used. In children younger than 2 years, 1-5 mL is commonly used.
  • For starting childbirth: A variety of dosage schedules have been used. Single doses vary from 5-120 mL of castor oil. A one-time dose of 60 mL in fruit juice is commonly used. Other dosing schedules that have been used include 5 mL in peppermint tea every 2 hours, 15 mL three times daily, 30 mL every 2 hours, 30 mL every 6 hours, 30 mL every 3 hours for 3 doses, 60 ml daily, and 60 mL daily for 2 days.

View References

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