6 Surprising Health Castor Oil Benefits

This centuries-old medicine has a rich history, and many are discovering its powerful benefits for hair and skin. Learn more!

Anyone who was a fan of the Little Rascals TV show may remember the many episodes in which Spanky and the Our Gang kids are threatened with doses of castor oil when they misbehaved. Those were the days when the oil was used as a punishment for naughty children because of its bad taste and laxative effect. Thank goodness parenting practices have come a long way! And so have the many castor oil benefits, including castor oil for hair growth! Learn how to reap the rewards …

This centuries-old medicine has a rich and interesting history, and many are discovering the oil’s powerful benefits for hair, skin, and more.

This extract comes from the castor bean, which grows on tall, beautifully red-leaved plant, Ricinus communis, that can reach up to 30 or 40 feet in tropical climates. The plant is native to India, and it’s a relative to exotics like rubber trees and poinsettias.

Castor Oil Throughout History

Castor oil has been a staple item for at least 4,000 years. The ancient Egyptians (and many other cultures since that time) used it as lamp oil. In ancient Greece, it was used as a laxative, and Pliny the Elder said it was “a strong purgative.” People during the Middle Ages found even more uses for this oil, using it to treat skin conditions like rashes, ringworm, and warts.

Interestingly, while the beans are filled with rich medicinal oil, their skins contain a deadly toxin that can be used to make ricin (Breaking Bad fans may remember this). In fact, castor beans are known as one of the most toxic seeds in the world and they’re restricted by law in many areas, and critical processing steps are in a place where the oil is manufactured.

Modern Uses

Castor oil - Ricinus

For a while, medicinal castor oil faded from the public’s attention. These days, most people don’t use it internally because of its very strong laxative effect, and there are many better, safer over-the-counter alternatives. However, when used topically, it has these health benefits that may just surprise you!

6 Surprising Health Castor Oil Benefits

You may have heard of using castor for hair growth, but there are many other castor oil benefits. Just be sure you use 100% pure, cold-pressed oil.

  1. Skin Moisturizer: Use oil from cold-pressed beans to prevent wrinkles and keep your skin looking youthful. Rub a small amount on dry elbows and heels.
  2. Castor Oil For Hair Growth: Castor oil is purported to help increase circulation to your scalp, which helps deliver vital nutrients to your hair. Massage a small amount of castor oil into your scalp a couple of times each week for healthy hair growth.
  3. Hair Moisturizer: ot just good for the scalp, it’s good for your hair, too! Use a very small amount—a dollop no larger than the size of a pea—and massage it throughout your hair after you’ve washed it to keep your hair looking soft, shiny and rich. Work a small amount in dry hair to tame fly-aways and treat brittle ends.
  4. Skin Irritations: With its natural anti-inflammatory properties, castor oil can help soothe abrasions and other minor skin irritations. You can also massage a small amount into the scalp with your fingertips to ease the itchiness.
  5. Skin Tag Remover: Make a paste of oil and baking soda, apply it to a skin tag three times daily, then cover the skin tag with a bandage. After one to three weeks, the skin tag should dry out so that it can be removed safely.
  6. Detox with Castor Oil Packs: In the 1990 version of The Doctors Book of Home Remedies (published by Prevention Magazine), castor oil packs are introduced as a way to relieve pain and inflammation. Today, many people, including those with Lyme disease, rely on castor oil packs to stimulate liver detoxification.* Not only is this supposed to have a cleansing effect, particularly on the liver, but it is also purported to keep your lymphatic system healthy.

Castor Oil Packs

To make a castor oil packs, you’ll need the following items:

  • Castor oil (use 100% pure, cold-pressed oil)
  • Square of wool or cotton flannel, folded to the size of a kitchen sponge
  • Plastic zipper bag
  • Heating pad
  • Terry cloth towel

Directions: Start by squeezing a good amount of the oil on the flannel, and then place it over the affected area (or over your stomach if you want to try a liver detox). Then cover the flannel with the plastic zipper bag so that the oil doesn’t damage the heating pad.

Lastly, place the heating pad over the pack, and then place the towel over the heating pad, and relax for about an hour.

Where to Buy

Castor oil is available online, at most major retailers, or at your local pharmacy. Be sure you’re purchasing only the purest form of the oil, free of additives.

*This information is not intended to take the place of the advice and counsel from your doctor. Always seek the advice of a health professional for medical advice.

Join The Discussion

What are some of your favorite castor oil benefits and uses?

Share with your community here in the comments below!

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Amber Kanuckel

Amber Kanuckel is a freelance writer from rural Ohio who loves all things outdoors. She specializes in home, garden, environmental, and green living topics.

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Russell Forlong



Do you need to warm castor oil in order for it to be safe to use?

Susan Higgins

Gail, it’s not necessary to warm castor oil. I use mine straight from the bottle that I bought on Amazon. External use only.

Stacey Ann Smith

Trying that oil for hair loss. Thanks for this.

Ann Moro

I used to drink a Mint Flavored Castor Oil and was very agreeable to the palate. Look for it, the brand had both kinds. I should give it a try again. I would recommend the Mint flavored kind.


Should it be drunk or massaged into the scalp for hair growth


How much is that?


What about Organic/’Expeller Pressed & Filtered’ – is it superior to ‘Cold Pressed’ ?

Iris Chevalier

In our house Castor Oil was used for flu and sinus as well as laxative about once a year as that is all it took, once. Maybe twice annually, Cod Liver Oil which was used for common colds with lemon juice and honey to mask the flavor or in tea. The siblings who took the oils had healthy heads of hair.

Linda H

Great information. I well remember my Grandmother and her uses & talk about castor oil. It looks like it really works. Thank you.

Dawn Schillinger

I just started taking castor oil. One teaspoon with honey.

For spoting hair loss patches on my head. Due to menopause.

Only has been 2wks I will sew how well it works.

I found it at Walmart in laxative isle.

Susan Higgins

Hi Dawn Schillinger: Try massaging the oil into your scalp rather than take it internally.

donald todd

Can you tell me more of the use of castor oil for cancer and liver thank you

Susan Higgins

Hi Donald Todd, Thanks for your note! The “castor oil pack” instructions within the story have been prescribed for many as a liver detox (helpful for those with Lyme) but you may want to check with your doctor with regard to cancer.

Nora Lande

I first heard of castor oil via Edgar Cayces’ remedies. The detox is well worth the time.
luv Farmers Almanac.

Susan Higgins

Thank you, Nora Lande!

Amber Kanuckel

Patricia: Most experts say to do it as necessary, so once per week or once per month depending on how you feel. Mercola, however, says that people who do this four days in a row every week for a month tend to get the most benefits.

Patricia Silvas

No. 6 entry regarding the Detox Castor Oil pack, how often is this session recommended, per week, per month?


When we were young, Castor Oil was a spring event every year, parents said it was to keep us clean out and stay healthy. Could not stand the taste the taste of it, but it worked.

Ellen Campbell

I faintly remember having to take a teaspoon of COD LIVER oil, not castor oil, bur I imagine the two were equally distasteful.


My mother gave to me as a child. It did not taste good at all, but working on the farm skin took a beating and hair could get crispy. When I can find it using a little of it in salad dressing dilutes that castor taste.


Castor oil is also amazing for diaper rash and the castor oil packs treat hemorrhoids fantastically!


I have had a hard time finding castor oil , if you do a small bottle cost a arm and a leg.

Denise Buessing

‘@suzi – do you use the heating pad over the castor oil pack for your liver over night or without a heating pad?


I have awful memoires of having to take castor oil when a child. I sincerely doubt I could get it down now. Just the smell makes me want to throw up. Must have done a lot of good because I have always been healthy and have reached the age of 84.


Hi, same here, we were given Castor Oil once monthly, and we all (7) grew to adulthood with no broken bones or drastic illnesses. Maybe just one of many practices our Mother used to keep us all well.

Suzi Seibert

I’m on the Gerson diet, curing my cancer, and one of the things they say to do is to use the castor oil pack for pain and to help the liver, and so I’ve been doing that for a few years, and it always helps! I generally put it all on when I go to bed, 2 or 3 times a week, and it helps me sleep too.

Gene Makish

A very informative article! I enjoyed it.

William Maxwell

When I was a young child it was a normal routine to be given doses of Castor Oil at least annual and sometimes more frequently during the year by my parents to keep me and my siblings healthy during the year.

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