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Herb Information
Name: Castor Oil Plant
Biological Name: Ricinus communis, Ricinus dicoccus


Other Names: Castor Oil Plant, Eranda, Vatari, Rendi, Bofareira, castor-oil plant, Mexico seed, oil plant, palma Christi

Amanakkam-chedi, Amanakku, Amidamu, Amudam, Arand, Aranda, Audla, Avanakku, Ayrunkukri, Bedanjir, Bherenda, Chittavanakku, Chittamanakku, Chittmani, Diveli, Endaru, Endi, Eramudapu, Erand, Erendi, Erandthailam, Eri, Gandharva Haralu, hasthah, Gemeiner Wunderbaum, Heran, Kesusi, Khirva, Miniak-jarah, Panchangulam, Ricin, Ricinus, Sadabherenda, Verenda


The castor oil plant is cultivated widely in the tropics and subtropics and in temperate latitudes.

Castor bean is an herbaceous annual plant that is found mostly cultivated in temperate climates, where it grows from 3 to 10 feet high. It is often grown in the northern U.S. as an ornamental plant The stout stem bears alternate, peltate, palmately lobed leaves that may be from 4 inches to 21/2 feet in diameter. A terminal raceme of flowers appears in later summer. The fruit is a spiny capsule which splits into three one-seeded parts. The seeds are smooth, glossy, black or mottled with gray or brown.

Parts Used: oil, leaves, roots, seeds, fruit

Fatty oil (42-55%)

Proteins (20-25%)

Lectins (0.1-0.7%): including among others ricin D (RCA-

60. severely toxic), RCA-120 (less toxic) 

Pyridine alkaloids

Triglycerides: chief fatty acids ricinoleic acid (12-hydroxy-oleic acid, share 85-90%) 

Tocopherols (Vitamin E)

Medicinal Applications 


Cathartic, demulcent, analgesic, nervine, purgative.

root bark-purgative.

The oil pressed out of the seeds is one of the most commonly used purgatives. Castor oil is described in Ayurveda as the "king of the purgatives" and "king of vayu disorders." Castor oil acids are anti- absorbative and hydragogic.

Ricini semen exhibits proven anti-viral effects.


abdominal disorders


enlarged liver and spleen




nervous diseases

pain  relief (joints)

promote menstrual discharge

promote milk production



Externally, the seeds and leaves of this herb are used in powder form as a poultice for inflammatory skin disorders, boils, carbuncles, abscesses, inflammation of the middle ear and migraine.

Internally, the drug is used as a purgative in the treatment of acute constipation, intestinal inflammation, worms and as a form of birth control.

C.K.N. Nair and N. Mohanan, authors of "Medicinal Plants of India," describe the application of this herb in Ayurveda as follows:

"The oil, roots, seeds and leaves. Many medicinal uses. Root-bark, leaves and oil are purgatives. Oil used in rheumatism and many other medicinal preparations. Leaves are galactagogue. Decoction of root is a remedy in phlegm, swellings, stomach-aches, dropsy, fever, hernia, asthma, leprosy, rheumatic joints and all pains in the wrist, head and bladder. It cures rheumatism and stone in the bladder. Seeds ground and eaten cure rheumatism and liver complaints."


Oil doses: children- 1 tsp.; adults-2 tsp. - 3 tbs. in tea or boiled milk. Decoction, infusion, poultice, leaf, paste.

For internal use: Take at least 10.0 gm for acute constipation or as a purgative against worms. 

For external use: Use a paste made from ground seeds. Apply this paste to the affected skin areas twice daily. A course of treatment may take up to 15 days.


Caution: Do not use castor oil if you are suffering from kidney, bladder, bile duct, intestine infections or jaundice. Do not use if you are pregnant or nursing.

No health hazards or side effects are known if this herb is administered properly with designated therapeutic dosages of castor oil. 

Castor beans are severely poisonous. The ricinus lectins prevent protein synthesis by destroying the ribosomes. Allergy-related skin rashes have been observed in some very few cases.

Long-term use of this herb can lead to losses of electrolytes, in particular K+-ions. This can result in  hyperaldosteronism, inhibition of intestinal motility and enhancement of the effect of cardioactive steroids.

Do not administer this drug to children under 12 years of age.

Overdoses of this herb can lead to gastric irritation, accompanied by queasiness, vomiting, colic and severe diarrhea. Twelve castor beans are believed to be fatal for an adult. Symptoms include severe gastroenteritis, with bloody vomiting and bloody diarrhea, kidney inflammation, loss of fluid and electrolytes and ultimately circulatory collapse. Death is usually the result of hypovolemic shock.

CAUTION: The entire plant, including the seeds, contains an irritant substance that poisons the blood. The oil is safe because the poison remains in the seed.

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