Castor Oil for Constipation

Benefits and Side Effects of Using Castor Oil for Constipation

Castor oil is a vegetable oil, which is known for being a natural laxative. It is one of the most effective remedies for severe constipation, though not meant for long-term use. Know more about how to use castor oil for constipation in this article.
Castor oil is a vegetable oil, extracted from the beans or seeds of the castor oil plant. The scientific name of the plant is Ricinus communis, which is native to East Africa. However, today, it can be widely found in the warm tropical regions across the world. The oil obtained from the castor beans or seeds is usually pale yellow in color, with a very mild odor and taste. Castor oil is actually a triglyceride of fatty acids, and its main components are ricinoleic acid, oleic acid and linoleic acid. Ricinoleic acid is an unsaturated fatty acid, that has the ability to inhibit bacterial, viral as well as fungal growth, and hence, much of the healing properties of castor oil are attributed to it.
Castor oil has been a part of the traditional medicine of Egypt, China and India for curing a number of health conditions, including constipation, skin disorders, arthritis, rheumatism, gout, skin pigmentation and blemishes, hair loss, nail infections, menstrual disorders and also for inducing labor. In modern times, castor oil is an over-the-counter laxative approved by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States. It is also an important ingredient in several drugs like miconazole, sandimmune, tacrolimus, nelfinavir mesylate, etc.
Castor Oil for Relief from Constipation

In traditional medicine, castor oil is known for numerous health benefits. Out of all the benefits, the effectiveness of the oil for relieving severe constipation has been recognized not only by the traditional medicine, but even by the modern world. The use of castor oil for constipation in children or adults is an age-old practice, which was carried out by the ancient Egyptians. It is a very effective laxative, which can induce bowel movement and relieve constipation, which is characterized by hard feces, as well as difficult and irregular bowel movements.
Laxatives can be termed as compounds or drugs and foods that can induce evacuation of the bowel. Castor oil is a natural laxative that can stimulate the contraction of the intestinal muscles (peristalsis), which facilitates the expulsion of the impacted fecal matter in the bowel. At the same time, it can reduce absorption of liquid from the intestinal tract, thereby increasing fluid in the bowel. This ensures easy passage of stool, and makes the bowel movement less difficult. All these qualities makes castor oil an effective home remedy for severe constipation, and even for bleeding piles. Castor oil can be taken alone in the appropriate quantity, or can be mixed with some honey or juice to get better result.
Castor oil is generally taken internally to get relief from constipation. As far as the appropriate dosage is concerned, it can vary considerably, depending on the age of the person and how severe the condition is. An overdose of castor oil and other laxatives should be strictly avoided, as it can cause diarrhea. Castor oil should be used only according to the instructions given in the label of the product, or as directed by the physician or health care provider.
Side Effects of Using Castor Oil for Constipation

Generally the use of laxatives should be avoided, as their long-term use may lead to dependency. This means that the use of castor oil and other laxatives for a considerable length of time can make you dependent on these products to have bowel movements. Additionally, using castor oil can also impair the normal absorption of vital nutrients. It can cause nutritional and electrolyte imbalances, which can eventually result in several kidney problems. Therefore, stimulant laxatives like castor oil should be avoided, unless it is a case of severe constipation. However, bulk forming laxative can be considered as an exception, as they are safe for regular use. Examples of such laxatives are bran and psyllium, that relieve constipation by adding bulk or water to the stool, and make its passage easy and comfortable.
So, castor oil should be regarded only as a temporary solution from constipation. Its long-term use can ultimately weaken the muscles of the colon, and their ability to contract naturally without the help of stimulant laxatives. Even for short term use, a physician or health care professional should be consulted, especially before using castor oil in babies or young children. Buy castor oil from a reputed dealer, and ensure that it is pale yellow, which implies that it is cold-pressed and safe for consumption.
It should be kept in mind that the long-term solution to constipation lies not in laxatives, but in dietary and lifestyle changes. Drinking more fluid or water, increasing the consumption of fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, and regular physical activities that can get your bowel moving are the best methods to cure constipation.