Castor oil, also known as ricinus oil, is a light, pale yellow oil with a distinctive aroma and taste. It is obtained from the castor seed. The botanical name of castor plant is Ricinus communis, from which comes the name of its main fatty acid chain, ricinoleic acid.
Castor oil is a triglyceride. Its glycerol is linked to ricinoleic acid (90%), oleic acid and linoleic acids. Ricinoleic acid is an 18-carbon mono-unsaturated fatty acid. A variety of castor oil grades are available commercially, with different acid values, moisture levels, colours and purities.
A PLAN FOR USING CASTOR OIL
There’s a golden rule for health preservation and healthful ageing: start low and build slow in the use of all natural measures. This rule must be heeded in the case of topical use of castor oil as described in this article. Castor oil use in my hands has been safe, but I neverthless urge readers to begin with a small amount of oil (a quarter of a teaspoon) when they first apply it to their skin.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has categorised castor oil as ‘generally recognized as safe and effective’ (GRASE). That is not surprising, since castor oil has been favoured for centuries in all the parts of the world where the castor plant grows, especially in India, China and South America. Many people will remember swallowing castor oil for its laxative effects. It gives a strong purge! I do not recommend the oil for this purpose because it does not strengthen the bowel in the long run. There are far better ways of achieving that. In the past it was also used for induction of childbirth. Fortunately this use has been abandoned since it carries risk to both the mother and the unborn baby, including dehydration, foetal distress, an increased risk of uterine rupture, prematurity, and increased pain for the mother.
DR ALI’S CASTOR-CISE
On weekend mornings I warm two tablespoonfuls of castor oil in a large spoon held in a flame. I apply the oil liberally to:
- the liver area (the ribcage on the right side, extending from the midline in front to the midline behind)
- the front and sides of the abdomen
- the shoulders
- the neck, and
- the face (just a light smear).
For the next two hours I stay in a limbic state, a meditative state free from the noise of a cluttered mind. I do not use the telephone, or watch TV. Low-volume music can be acceptable. I prepare my breakfast (usually 1700 g of my protein shake) and take nutrient and herbal supplements.
Intermittently I engage in limbic exercise (gentle, non-competitive, meditative, described in my book The Ghoraa and Limbic Exercise). I favour rebounding, rug-running, and light weights. There is no sweating, no huffing or puffing, and no sore muscles (crucial for a 67-year-old with much work to do). In between the bouts of exercise I practise limbic breathing and try to attain a spiritual state (see my book The Crab, Oxygen, and Cancer for practical suggestions). I often work on my computer during Castor- Cise – writing comes easily in the limbic state.
At the end, I shave, shower, and get ready for the rest of the day. My shower begins with hot water and ends with a sudden burst of cold. My sense is that the clinical benefits of the ancient practice of sauna, followed by jumping in very cold water, accrue from improvement of the autonomic equilibrium. Each castor period is free from the demands of a cluttered mind!