Castor oil is produced from the seeds of the castor oil plant, also called Ricinus communis. Once the seeds are pressed, they become a versatile, pale-yellow vegetable oil with a distinct flavor and smell. Because of its fatty acids, castor oil has become an addition to some soaps, moisturizers and other hair and skin products. It helps to moisturize and nurture almost every part of your body.
Castor oil is rich in ricinoleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that acts as a humectant to help your skin retain moisture. You can buy products that already feature castor oil, such as cosmetics, lotions, cleansers and others. You can also use this rich oil on its own as a natural alternative to store-bought moisturizers and lotions, or you can combine the two. Use your preferred moisturizer first and then rub castor oil over top of it to help seal in the moisture and double down on keeping your skin soft.
In addition to being used as a whole-body moisturizer, you can also use castor oil to condition your nail cuticles and help keep them soft and supple to reduce ripping and breaking.
Your scalp is another place that can reap the benefits of castor oil. Dry or damaged hair can especially benefit from the intense moisturizing properties, and because it is all-natural, you don't have to worry about added chemicals in store-bought conditioners having an adverse effect on your hair. Castor oil can also help to reduce breakage and dandruff.
Ricinoleic acid also has impressive anti-inflammatory properties, allowing castor oil to help reduce pain and swelling when applied topically to the skin where your pain is located. It is particularly useful to help reduce the inflammation associated with inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis.
The best-known use for castor oil is as a laxative. Classified as a stimulant laxative, castor oil helps to increases the movement of the muscles that push material through the intestines, helping to clear the bowels. Studies have suggested that castor oil can help decrease the symptoms of constipation, such as less straining and feelings of incomplete bowel movements.
You can benefit from castor oil in many ways, whether you buy it raw or buy products that were made with it. Especially in dry climates, it can be difficult to get your hair and skin to retain moisture--adding castor oil to your beauty regimen might help.