Botanical Name(s): Ricinus Communis
Family Name: Eeuphorbiaceae
Species: R. communis
Popular Name(s): Palma Christi, Ricin, Wonder Tree, Krapata, Djarak, Reer, Arandi, Mexico Seed, Vatari, Eranda, Rendi, Bofareira.
Parts Used: Leaves, seeds, roots, oil, fruit
Habitat: Common in distributed areas and wastelands.
An herbaceous annual plant, castor grows to a height of 3 to 10 feet. The long-stalked glossy leaves are 15 to 45 cm in length with 5-12 deep lobes. The leaf color can vary from dark green with a reddish tinge to dark reddish purple and bronze. The stout stem and spiny seed pods may vary in pigmentation. The male flowers are yellowish-green in color, having prominent creamy stamens, while the female flowers bear prominent red stigmas at the tips of the spikes. The suckering perennial shrub is known to grow very fast.
The spiny greenish capsule fruit of castor is capsule-shaped and contains large, oval, shiny, bean-like highly poisonous seeds. Though castor is native to south-eastern Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa and India, it is spread widely throughout the tropical regions. Castor is known as arandi in Hindi, divel in Gujarati, errand in Marathi, aavadam in Telugu, aamanakku in Tamil and aralenne in Kannada.
(+)- fatty oil (42-55%), proteins (20-25%), lectins (0.1-0.7%), ricin D (RCA-60: severely toxic, RCA-120: less toxic), pyridine alkaloids, ricinoleic acid (12-hydroxy-oleic acid 85-90%), tocopherols (Vitamin E).
Uses & Benefits of Castor
- Castor plant is extensively used as a decorative plant in parks and other public places.
- It is a harmless purgative and very effective in treating rheumatic and skin disorders.
- A decoction of the roots of this plant is used in the treatment of lumbago and sciatica.
- Castor leaves are used as an external application to boils and swellings.
- The leaves, when heated in coconut oil, can be applied on guinea-worm sores, to extract the worms.
- The castor seeds are used in making jewelry, particularly necklaces and bracelets.
- A poultice of the seeds is applied to the scrofulous sores and boils that result from tuberculosis of lymph nodes.
- Castor oil is massaged over the breasts of women, after childbirth, to increase the milk flow, since it stimulates the mammary glands.
- The leaves of the plant are also used to foment the breasts.
- Regular use of castor oil promotes hair growth and cures dandruff.
- Take 30 to 60 grams of castor oil orally with 250 to 375 grams of lukewarm milk to cure constipation. It starts acting after an hour.
- Chewing one castor seed daily, for a period of seven days after menstruation, makes a woman sterile.
- Massage castor oil into your body before bathing, once in a week, to keep the skin healthy and have a sound sleep.
- Apply castor oil on hands and feet, before going to bed, to keep them soft.
- In Brazil, castor oil is used for producing bio-diesel in poor rural areas.
- Applying the castor oil over the eyebrows and eyelashes keeps them well groomed.
- Castor oil should also not be consumed in cases of abdominal pain or intestinal infections, like appendicitis, enteritis or inflammation of the small intestine and peritonitis.
- People suffering from kidney infection should avoid castor oil, as it serves as a purgative.
- Castor oil, when taken in large doses, can lead to abortion in early months of pregnancy.