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A Brief Overview of the Uses and Side Effects of Croton Oil

Croton Oil: Uses and Side Effects
Croton oil is extracted from the seeds of a tree called Croton tiglium. Although, it is highly toxic, it has several uses when used in appropriate quantity.
Sharmistha Sarkar
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
The first use of Croton oil was as a medicine by the ancient Chinese. At the end of the 16th century, traders brought this oil to Europe from the East.
Croton oil is extracted from the seeds of the Asiatic tree, Croton tiglium Linn, which belongs to the family, Euphorbiaceae. The tree is native to India and Malay Archipelago. The oil is popularly called oleum tiglii. It is extracted from croton seeds by cold pressing method.

It was initially used by the Chinese as a medicine. Since then, it is being used as medicine. However, as croton oil is highly toxic and a violent irritant, this oil is not as much in use currently as it was in the ancient times. At present, it is mostly used as an ingredient in many facial peels used for skin rejuvenation.

The oil is unpleasant in taste and has a nauseating odor. It is a viscid and translucent substance. It is yellow to pale brown in color. The ingredients of the oil differ as per the method of extraction. It contains fatty acids like oleic acid, linoleic acid, myristic acid, arachidic acid, palmitic acid, formic acid, acetic acid, stearic acid, and less amounts of butyric acid, lauric acid, tiglic acid and valeric acid. The oil also contains crotin, croton resin, crotonoside, and an unsaturated fatty acid.
In Ghana, people know croton seeds as a toxic substance, and hence was used as fish poison or for criminal activities. In Sudan, the seeds are taken as a purgative by combining its powder with dates. In South-east Asia, roots of croton are used as purgative and to induce abortion. In Malaysia, the oil is used in soaps and to light up lamps.
Croton oil is used in different phenol-based facial peel products. It has a rejuvenating effect on the skin. It peels off the thin layer of epidermis, which is the outermost layer of the skin and regenerates it. This causes removal of wrinkles, fine lines and various scars. Dermatologists and plastic surgeons vary the amount of the oil used depending upon the skin type of a specific area like neck, eyes etc.
Croton oil is used in the treatment of various ailments like dropsy, apoplexy, convulsions, obstinate constipation, intestinal obstruction, lead poisoning, intense fever, and high blood pressure.
Croton oil is used as a preliminary laxative in leprosy.
Croton oil functions as a counter irritant and provides relief from irritation. However, it can cause inflammation in the part of the body where it is applied. Thus, it's not completely safe to use for all skin types.
Croton oil is used as a liniment and acts as a stimulant. It is also used to cure inflammation caused by skin wounds, chronic rheumatism, neuralgia (acute nerve pain), glandular swellings, chronic bronchitis, asthma, laryngitis and other pulmonary problems.
Croton oil is used for the treatment of schistosomiasis and other intestinal parasites.
Croton seed oil and bark are used in medicines to treat cancerous cells, paralysis, sore throat, teething troubles, snakebite and many others. The seed oil is also used in the making of soap and candles.
Croton oil is used for the extraction of biodiesel fuel.
Croton oil is used for illuminating lamps. However, it is used outdoors as the smoke is toxic.
Side Effects
Croton oil is a strong irritant. It causes itching, blistering and lesions of skin even if a small amount of it is applied to the skin.
Croton oil can cause severe or permanent damage to tissues, nerves and blood vessels when used as a facial peel if the concentration of the peel is not proper.
Croton oil has a compound known as phorbol esters, which has tumor promoting effects.
The consumption of croton oil causes diarrhea and stomach aches if taken even in small amounts internally.
An overdose of the oil can cause gastro-intestinal inflammation followed by pain, vomiting, restlessness, heart palpitation, headache, and dizziness. It could even be fatal.
  • The oil has to be used in very small amount as it is toxic. The recommended usage of the oil is just two to three drops. However, consult a trained specialist before usage.
  • The dosage of croton seeds varies from individual to individual depending on factors like the user's age, health, and many other conditions.
  • Children and pregnant women should avoid using croton oil at all costs.
Disclaimer: Use the product as directed. The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to substitute the advice of a specialist.