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Castor Oil Benefits, Research, Side Effects, How To Use, Dose

Castor oil is used both externally and internally in Ayurvedic treatment. Its usage in mentioned in a variety of disorders. It is also told as a rejuvenative and anti aging medicine. It is excellent in relieving Vata and Kapha disorders. It is also used in Panchakarma therapy. 

castor oil

Castor oil is best oil for purgation – Virechana Panchakarma treatment.
It is  pungent in taste, hot in potency and is heavy to digest.
it is bitter and sweet in taste.
It is hot in nature, has the capability to enter minute channels of the body.

Effect on Tridosha

Castor oil balances Vata and Kapha Dosha. But when mixed and processed with herbs possessing astringent, sweet and bitter tastes, it alleviates pitta as well.

Sanskrit synonyms

Eranda taila, Gandharvahasta taila.

Medicinal qualities

Taste – Madhuram – sweet, Kashaya Anurasa – astringent sub-taste, Satikta, Katu – bitter and pungent sub-taste
Vipaka – undergoes sweet taste conversion after digestion.
Ushna – hot in potency.
Teekshna – piercing into minute body channels
Sookshma – minute
Picchila – sticky
Guru – heavy to digest
Sara – smooth mobility

Sanskrit verse

Castor oil benefits

Health benefits

Sroto Vishodhana – cleanses body channels
Tvachya – improves skin qualities
Vrushya – aphrodisiac
Vaya sthapana – anti aging, rejuvenative
Yoni Vishodhana – useful in cleansing vagina
Shukra Vishodhana – useful in cleansing semen, to improve motility and to treat sperm defects.
Arogyakara – improves health
Medhakara – improves intelligence
Kantikara – improves skin glow
Smrutikara – improves memory
Balakara – improves immunity
Adhobhaga Doshahara – expels vitiated Doshas from lower part of the body (Virechna)
Deepana – improves digestion strength
Vishamajwara – useful in intermittent fever
Hrudroga – cardiac disorders
prushta shoola, guhya shoola – useful in low backache
Vatodara – useful in gas, bloating
Gulma – abdominal tumor
Anaha – gaseous distension of abdomen
Ashtila – prostitis
Katigraha – low back stiffness
Vatashonita – gout
Vid bandha – constipation
Bradhna – prolapsed rectum
Shotha – swelling, inflammatory conditions
Ama Vidradhi – initial stages of abscess, where pus is yet to be formed.
Amavata – rheumatoid arthritis
Castor oil is sweet in taste, heavy, increases Kapha and balances  Vata, Raktagulma (a type of abdominal tumor specially in females), heart disease, indigestion and fever. – Charaka Sutrasthana 27

FDA has recognized castor oil as – generally regarded as safe and effective. 

Internal administration

It acts as tonic , laxative and helps in rejuvenation.
It is also useful in relieving worm infestation, Abdominal colic, intermittent fever,  skin diseases, Rheumatoid arthritis, hemorrhoids with hard stool problem and constipation.

External application

Castor oil helps to improve blood circulation, to increase body warmth.
It also helps to relieve pain and stiffness in joints. Hence, it is often used as the oil of preference for massage in case of rheumatoid arthritis.
In cases of prolapsed uterus and rectum, castor oil is heated, then allowed to cool down, then it is applied to the prolapsed part, the part is placed in its normal position and bandaged.

Use in Virechana

Virechana – Purgation treatment:
Purgation treatment is of two types. – Snigdha – oily and Rooksha dry.
In case of Snigdha Virechana (oil purgation), in Pitta disorders involving Vata, such as gout, skin disorders with scaling, redness, burning sensation and dryness, in case of rheumatoid arthritis, castor oil is the preferred choice.

Here, the patient is first administered with spices to improve digestion, for three days, then made to take medicated ghee orally for 3 – 7 days, then massage and sweating treatment is done for 2 – 3 days, then castor oil is given in high dose to induce loose stools. This helps to expel imbalanced Pitta Dosha out of the body.
Snigdha Virechana with Castor oil is useful in eliminating imbalanced Pitta and to regularize the direction of Vata Dosha.

For enema

In case of Ascites with Vata Dosha predominance, Castor oil, processed with sour herbs is administered as enema (reference: Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 13th chapter)

Side effects and contraindications

Because of its purgative nature, castor oil is contra indicated in Diarrhea, Amoebic dysentery.
Other common side effects with castor oil are – stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, dizziness.
It is contra indicated during pregnancy and can be used under strict medical supervision during lactation period, and in children.

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Action on Pitta Dosha

Does Castor oil increase Pitta Dosha?
Because castor oil has hot quality, it can increase Pitta, especially when used along with spices.
But when it causes purgation, it takes away the imbalanced Pitta out of the body. So, castor oil, when used for therapeutic purgation, does not cause aggravation of Pitta Dosha.

Home remedies

Home remedies using castor oil:
For rheumatoid arthritis patients with constipation, castor oil home remedy with Haritaki is very effective.

For bloating

Castor oil for bloating:
It is administered along with Varuni manda (supernatent liquid of alcohol), if kapha is secondarily aggravated along with Vata Dosha.
It is taken with milk if  Pitta is secondarily aggravated. [92-93]

For constipation with inflammation

Castor oil for constipation associated with inflammation (Shotha):
If the patient of edema suffers from constipation and bloating, he is given castor oil along with milk or meat soup.  This recipe is given before taking food. – Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 12th chapter.

Castor oil qualities

Castor oil qualities as per Yogaratnakara:
तैलं एरण्डजं बल्यं गुरु उष्णं मधुरम् सरं।
तिक्त उष्णं पित्तलं विस्रं रक्त एरण्ड् उद्भवं भृशम्॥
एरण्ड तैलं क्रिमिनाशनं च सर्वत्र शूलघ्नम् मरुत् प्रणाशम्।
कुष्ठापहं च अपि रसायनं च पित्त प्रकोप अनिल शोधनं च॥
वर्ध्म गुल्म अनिल कफान् उदरं विषम ज्वरम्।
वात शूल गजेन्द्राणाम् एरण्ड स्नेह केशरि॥{यो.र.}

Rasa (Taste) – Madhura (Sweet), Tikta (Bitter)
Guna (qualities) – Guru (heavy), Ushna (hot), Sara (flowing), Visram (foul smelling), Balyam (strength promoter),
Doshic action – Alleviates morbid vata and kapha, tends to increase Pitta
It is highly beneficial in the below said conditions:

  • Krimighnam (anti-helmenthic, removes worms and parasites)
  • Shulaghnam – relieves pain (analgesic) and colic
  • Anila shodhanam – flushes out the morbid vata
  • Kushtapaha – cures skin diseases
  • Rasayana – Anti-ageing, immune modulator, rejuvenator, disease modifying
  • Vardhma hara – cures hernia
  • Gulma hara – Best in destroying abdominal tumors
  • Anila-kaphan – Destroys morbid Vata and Kapha and diseases caused by them
  • Udara – abdominal diseases
  • Vishama jwara – intermittent fevers etc

Dashamoola and castor oil

Combination of Dashamula decoction and Castor oil –
दशमूली कषायेण पिबेत् वा नागर अम्भसा।
कटिशूलेषु सर्वेषु तैलम् एरण्ड सम्भवम्॥ यो.र.वातव्याधि चिकित्सा १६४
Dashamoolee kashaayena pibet vaa naagaraambhasaa.
Kati shuleshu sarveshu tailam eranda sambhavam.
(Ref – Yoga Ratnakara, Vata Vyadhi Chikitsa chapter, verse 164)

In all sorts of low back pains, one should consume the Dashamoola Kashaya (decoction of 10 herbal roots) or Nagara (Musta-Cyperus rotundus) Kashaya admixed with Eranda Tailam


Dose of castor oil:
The dose depends upon the severity of disease, patients gut health and age.
For the purpose of regular treatment (not Panchakarma), the dose is – half to one teaspoon  – 2.5 – 5 ml, once a day.
For children, maximum advised dose per day is usually 2.5 ml.
How to use?
For regular use, castor oil can be consumed readily. For those who find its odor as offensive, castor oil capsules are also available.  The dose of such capsule is 1 – 2 capsule once or twice per day.
For the purpose of purgation (Virechana treatment), Castor oil is administered in a dose ranging between 30 – 120 ml, based on doctor’s discretion. But such a high dose, without medical supervision will be very dangerous.

How long to use?
In a very minimal dose, it can be used for a period of 7 days. If you wish to continue for more than a week time, better to have a word with your doctor.

Time of intake

Time of castor oil intake:
Usually castor oil is administered on empty stomach, that is- half an hour before food or 2 hours after food

For massage

Castor oil for body massage: 
Whenever there is pain associated with stiffness, castor oil is preferred. It can be used as a daily massage oil.

For hair

Castor oil for hair –
It can be applied 30 minutes to 1 hour before hair wash / shower. After application, it is washed off with herbal hair powder mix or with a mild herbal shampoo.
Contributed by Ms Lizzie, USA –
In the USA & holistic community, we promote castor oil as a way to regrow eyebrow hair that has either been over-plucked or lost due to maturation & menopause. It is promoted instead of very costly “serums” to regrow the eyebrows. It is said to unclog the pores and allow the hair to push through. I’ve seen great results at a fraction of the cost! It seems logical that it would help the hairs on the scalp!

For eyes

Castor oil for eyes:
In some parts of India, as a traditional practice, castor oil is applied as Kajal (collyrium) over the eyes. They say, this helps to improve vision.


Research on castor oil:
Transdermal absorption (absorption through skin)
HPLC studies
Supressive effect on some tumors

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic medicines with castor oil ingredient:
Gandharvahastadi taila –
Used in abscess, splenic disorders, Abdominal bloating, Oedema and inflammatory conditions of abdomen and ascites.
Brihat Saindhavadi Taila – Saindhava means rock salt Wherever there is stiffness, usually rock salt is used for external application. Castor oil also does the same job of relieving stiffness, hence this combination. – It is used in low back ache, sciatica, rheumatoid arthritis, abdominal colic, Ankylosing spondylosis and such other musculo-skeletal diseases.

Hingu Triguna Taila – It is used to treat bloating, acid peptic diseases and ascites.
Vatari ras used in the treatment of neuritis, arthritis, neuralgia, paralysis, facial palsy, spondylosis, gout.
Kalyana Kshara – for hemorrhoids, constipation, bloating, difficulty in urination, cough, asthma.
Amavatari rasused in rheumatoid arthritis and osteo-arthritis
Simhanada Guggulu – used in  skin condition, abscess, gout, respiratory condition, abdominal colic, anemia.
Interestingly, castor oil is also added in many allopathic medicines such as Miconazole, Tacrolimus, Xenaderm ointment, Paclitaxel etc.

Related: Comparison between castor oil with sesame, mustard and coconut oil 

For semen and uterus cleansing

Castor oil for semen and uterus cleansing:
Q: It would be interesting to know how castor oil is used for Shukra vishodhana and Yoni vishodhana . It would be a great boon for young couples to know how to prepare for a child by cleansing themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and how to clean the sperm and ovum . Looking forward to you thoughts on this.
A: The shukra Shodhana and Yoni Vishodhana effect is brought about by undergoing Virechana Panchakarma treatment.  Before planning for conception, if the couple can visit an Ayurveda center, then they will be guided through the procedure.  If they cannot visit, I think they can safely take around 5 ml of castor oil during weekend. The next morning, they may have lose stools for 2 – 4 times, which would stop by itself.
They may repeat it for up to four weekends.
If the lose stools are not getting under control, they can take Kutaja Ghanavati tablet – 2 tablets 2 times a day, after food, till it stops. Better to have this tablet ready, well ahead. If things are not getting under control, they will have to consult a doctor immediately. So, it comes with certain amount of risk. Hence, a doctor’s direct advice is recommended.

For clogged milk ducts

Castor oil for clogged milk ducts in lactating mothers:
Sometimes, breast feeding mothers experience clogging of milk ducts leading to pain and inflammation. Castor oil having piercing qualities, helps to get rid of the clog, on external application.
Soon after you have finished breast feeding, dip a cotton swab in castor oil and apply it over the nipple for 10 minutes and then wipe off cleanly and wash with warm water.

Castor Oil Remedy For Breast Pain and Clogging

There are two uses for castor oil in mastitis.
First one is a local application of castor oil to relieve pain and swelling. It should be applied to the breasts 10 minutes before bath to relieve pain and inflammation.

Second use in case of clogged milk ducts in the nipple.

Castor oil is also explained as

तीक्ष्णोष्णं दीपनं सूक्ष्मं

tīkṣṇoṣṇaṃ dīpanaṃ sūkṣmaṃ

tīkṣṇa – strong, deep penetrating

dīpanaṃ – caminative

uṣṇaṃ – hot  and

sūkṣmaṃ – can enter minute pores.
Clogged milk duct is a common cause for breast pain. Applying castor oil and gently squeezing the nipple helps to get rid of the clogs. For this you may slightly warm the castor oil before applying. Castor oil, being hot and deep penetrating, helps to clear the clog.

But after doing this, the area needs to be washed thoroughly to avoid mixing milk with castor oil, which may cause problems for the baby. Note that this does not work in a single attempt. It needs to be done once or twice daily for a week to 10 days.

For virechana

Use of Castrol Oil for Virechana

गुल्मोदर ब्रध्नार्शःप्लीहोदावर्त योनि शुक्रगदे |
मेदःकफसंसृष्टे मारुतरक्तेऽवगाढे च||२७||
गृध्रसि पक्षवधादिषु विरेचनार्हेषु वातरोगेषु|
वाते विबद्ध मार्गे मेदःकफ पित्त रक्तेन||२८||
पयसा मांसरसैर्वा त्रिफलारस यूष मूत्र मदिराभिः|
दोषानुबन्धयोगात् प्रशस्तमेरण्डजं तैलम्||२९||
तद्वातनुत्स्वभावात् संयोगवशाद्विरेचनाच्च जयेत्|
मेदोसृक्पित्त कफोन्मिश्रानिलरोगजित्तस्मात्||३०||
बल कोष्ठ व्याधिवशादापञ्चपला भवेन्मात्रा|
मृदुकोष्ठाल्पबलानां सह भोज्यं तत्प्रयोज्यं स्यत्||३१||
gulmodara bradhnārśaḥplīhodāvarta yoni śukragade |
medaḥkaphasaṃsṛṣṭe mārutarakte’vagāḍhe ca||27||
gṛdhrasi pakṣavadhādiṣu virecanārheṣu vātarogeṣu|
vāte vibaddha mārge medaḥkapha pitta raktena||28||
payasā māṃsarasairvā triphalārasa yūṣa mūtra madirābhiḥ|
doṣānubandhayogāt praśastameraṇḍajaṃ tailam||29||
tadvātanutsvabhāvāt saṃyogavaśādvirecanācca jayet|
medosṛkpitta kaphonmiśrānilarogajittasmāt||30||
bala koṣṭha vyādhivaśādāpañcapalā bhavenmātrā|
mṛdukoṣṭhālpabalānāṃ saha bhojyaṃ tatprayojyaṃ syat||31|| – Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 26th chapter.

If the course of Vata Dosha is obstructed by fat, Kapha, Pitta or Rakta (vitiated blood) in the diseases like
Gulma – phantom tumor
Udara – obstinate abdominal diseases including ascites
Bradhna – Inguinal swelling
Arsha – piles
Pliha – splenic enlargement
Udavarta – upward movement of wind in the abdomen
Yoni Roga – diseases of the female genital tract
Shukra gada – Seminal disorders
Affliction of fat by the vitiated Kapha
Gambhira vata rakta – Deep seated Vata- Rakta (gout)
Gridhrasi – Sciatica
Pakshavadha – Hemiplegia, etc., and in such other Vatika diseases which are curable by Virechana (purgation therapy), castor oil is an excellent remedy.

It is added with such other ingredients as are conducive to the treatment of the aggravated Vata Dosha, and administered along with milk, meat soup, Triphala Kashaya, vegetables soup, cow’s urine, alcoholic drink, etc.
Because of its Vata Dosha- alleviating nature, because of the addition of other appropriate drugs, and because of its purgative effects, it cures Vatika diseases associated with the vitiated fat, blood, Pitta and Kapha.
Dosage of castor oil: Up to 5 Palas depending upon the Bala (strength of the patient), the condition of Kostha (thoracic and abdominal visceras), and the nature of the disease, castor oil is administered in the dose
If the patient is of Mrdu- Kostha (laxed bowel) and is weak, then castor oil is given to him along with food.
Thus, ends the treatment of Udavarta (upward movement of wind). [27-31]

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