Castor oil plant & Castor Seeds

Botanical Name : Ricinus cummunis
Family Name: Euphorbiaceae
Tribe:    Acalypheae
Subtribe:    Ricininae
Genus:    Ricinus
Species:    R. communi
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Malpighiales
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Malpighiales
vernacular Name: Sans: Shweteranda; Hind:Eranda Eng: Castor
The name Ricinus is a Latin word for tick; the seed is so named because it has markings and a bump at the end which resemble certain ticks. The common name “castor oil” likely comes from its use as a replacement for castoreum, a perfume base made from the dried perineal glands of the beaver (castor in Latin)

Habitat :
Although castor is probably indigenous to the southeastern Mediterranean region and Eastern Africa, today it is widespread throughout tropical regions. Castor establishes itself easily as an apparently “native” plant and can often be found on wasteland. It is widely
grown as a crop in, for example, Ethiopia. It is also used extensively as a decorative plant
in parks and other public areas, particularly as a “dot plant” in traditional bedding schemes.

Ricinus communis can vary greatly in its growth habit and appearance. The variability has been increased by breeders who have selected a range of cultivars for leaf and flower colours, and for oil production. It is a fast-growing, suckering perennial shrub that can reach the size of a small tree (around 12 metres or 39 feet), but it is not cold hardy.

The glossy leaves are 15–45 centimetres (5.9–17.7 in) long, long-stalked, alternate and palmate with 5–12 deep lobes with coarsely toothed segments. In some varieties they start off dark reddish purple or bronze when young, gradually changing to a dark green, sometimes with a reddish tinge, as they mature. The leaves of some other varieties are green practically from the start, whereas in yet others a pigment masks the green colour of all the chlorophyll-bearing parts, leaves, stems and young fruit, so that they remain a dramatic purple-to-reddish-brown throughout the life of the plant. Plants with the dark leaves can be found growing next to those with green leaves, so there is most likely only a single gene controlling the production of the pigment in some varieties.   The stems (and the spherical, spiny seed capsules) also vary in pigmentation. The fruit capsules of some varieties are more showy than the flowers.
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The green capsule dries and splits into three sections, forcibly ejecting seeds
The flowers are borne in terminal panicle-like inflorescences of green or, in some varieties, shades of red monoecious flowers without petals. The male flowers are yellowish-green with prominent creamy stamens and are carried in ovoid spikes up to 15 centimetres (5.9 in) long; the female flowers, borne at the tips of the spikes, have prominent red stigmas.

The fruit is a spiny, greenish (to reddish-purple) capsule containing large, oval, shiny, bean-like, highly poisonous seeds with variable brownish mottling. Castor seeds have a warty appendage called the caruncle, which is a type of elaiosome. The caruncle promotes the dispersal of the seed by ants (myrmecochory).

Although the highly toxic nature of castor bean
(Ricinus communis) is well recognized, reports of human toxicity in the English medical literature are scarce. The potentially lethal doses reported for children and adults are three beans and eight beans respectively.

Recent experience with two cases provides added insight into the expected course of
toxicity. In both cases, repeated vomiting, diarrhea, and transiently elevated serum
creatine occurred. Dehydration was much more pronounced in the second case. Both patients recovered uneventfully. Other reported manifestations of castor bean toxicity, such as hepatic necrosis, renal failure, erythrocyte hemolysis, convulsions, and shock, did not occur.

Castor seeds have been found in Egyptian tombs dating back to 4000 BC. Herodotus and other Greek travelers have noted the use of castor seed oil for lighting and body anointments.

Global castor seed production is around 1 million tons per year. Leading producing areas are India, China and Brazil. There are several active breeding programmes.

The stems and the spherical, spiny seed pods also vary in pigmentation. The pods are more showy than the flowers (the male flowers are yellowish-green with prominent creamy stamens and are carried in ovoid spikes up to 15 cm long; the female flowers, borne at the tips of the spikes, have prominent red stigmas).

Selections have been made by breeders for use as ornamental plants: ‘Gibsonii’ has
red-tinged leaves with reddish veins and pinkish-green seed pods; ‘Carmencita Pink’ is
similar, with pinkish-red stems; ‘Carmencita Bright Red’ has red stems, dark purplish leaves and red seed pods; all grow to around 1.5 m tall as annuals. ‘Impala’ is compact (only 1.2 m tall) with reddish foliage and stems, brightest on the young shoots; ‘Red Spire’ is tall (2–3 m) with red stems and bronze foliage; ‘Zanzibarensis’ is also tall (2–3 m), with large, mid-green leaves (50 cm long) with white midribs. (Heights refer to plants grown as

Castor is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Giant
Leopard Moth, Hypercompe hambletoni and The Nutmeg. It is a favourite food of the Tambourine Dove, Turtur tympanistria.

The use of castor seed oil in India has been documented since 2000 BC for use in lamps and in local medicine as a laxative, purgative, and cathartic in UNANI,

Ayurvedic and other ethnomedical systems.
Castor seed and its oil have also been used in China for centuries, mainly prescribed in
local medicine for internal use or use in dressingsCastor oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the castor bean (technically castor seed as the castor plant, Ricinus communis, is not a member of the bean family).

Castor oil has an unusual composition and chemistry, which makes it quite valuable. Ninety percent of fatty acids in castor oil are ricinoleic acid. Ricinoleic acid, a
monounsaturated, 18-carbon fatty acid, has a hydroxyl functional group at the twelfth
carbon, a very uncommon property for a biological fatty acid. This functional group causes
ricinoleic acid (and castor oil) to be unusually polar, and also allows chemical derivatization that is not practical with other biological oils. Since it is a polar dielectric with a relatively high dielectric constant (4.7), highly refined and dried Castor oil is sometimes used as a dielectric fluid within high performance high voltage capacitors.

Castor oil also contains 3-4% of both oleic and linoleic acids.Castor oil maintains its fluidity at both extremely high and low temperatures. Sebacic acid is chemically derived from castor oil. Castor oil and its derivatives have applications in the manufacturing of soaps, lubricants, hydraulic and brake fluids, paints, dyes, coatings, inks, cold resistant plastics, waxes and polishes, nylon, pharmaceuticals and perfumes. In internal combustion engines, castor oil is renowned for its ability to lubricate under extreme conditions and temperatures, such as in air-cooled engines.

The lubricants company Castrol takes its name from castor oil. However, castor oil tends to form gums in a short time, and its use is therefore restricted to engines that are regularly rebuilt, such as motorcycle race engines.

Castor oil is vegetable-based oil because it’s made from Castor plant seeds; thus, it naturally biodegrades quickly and comes from a renewable energy resource (plants). The castor seed contains Ricin, a toxic protein removed by cold pressing and filtering.

Medicinal use of Castor oil
Today, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes Castor oil as
generally safe and effective (GRASE) for over-the-counter use as a laxative , but it is not
a preferred drug to treat constipation. Besides being a laxative, Castor oil is sometimes
used to help women start labor, but in any case with due caution and under medical
supervision. One of Castor oil’s derivatives undecylenic acid is also FDA approved for
over-the-counter use on skin disorders or skin problems. .

Pure cold pressed Castor oil is really tasteless and odorless. When additives are added to
pure cold pressed Castor oil, the oil becomes adulterated and the taste and smell can change according to the additives. Also, pure cold pressed Castor oil is potent and can be an eye irritant similar to pepper spray, so avoid contact with eyes.

Ricinoleic acid is the main component of Castor oil and it exerts anti-inflammatory effects

A study found that castor oil decreased pain more than ultrasound gel or vaseline during
extracorporeal shock wave application.

Therapeutically, modern drugs are rarely given in a pure chemical state, so most active ingredients are combined with excipients or additives.

As per Ayurveda:
It is katu, ushna, beneficial in deranged vata, kapha ,fever, cough and used in the purification of mercury.

Parts Used:
Seeds, leaves and root-bark.

Therapeutic Uses: Seeds:

“Castor oil” derived from the seeds is a well-known purgative ; leaves: anodyne and galactogogue; externally applied to boils and sores in the form of poultice; root-bark: emetic, purgative, beneficial in lumbago and skin diseases.

The root is sweetish, heating; carminative; useful in inflammations, pains, ascites, fever, glands, asthma, eructations, bronchitis, leprosy, diseases of the rectum, and the head.-

The leaves are useful in “vata” and” kapha “, intestinal worms, strangury, night blindness, earache; increase biliousness.-The flowers are useful in glandular tumours, anal troubles, vaginal pain.-

The fruit is heating and an appetiser; ilseful in tumours, pains, “vata “, piles, diseases of the liver and spleen.-The seed is cathartic and aphrodisiac.-

The oil is sweetish; cathartic, aphrodisiac, anthelmintic, alterative; useful in tumours, diseases of the heart, slow fevers, ascites, inflammations, typhoid, pain in the tack, lumbago, leprosy, elephantiasis, convulsions; increases” kapha”; causes biliousness .
The root bark is purgative, alterative; good in skin diseases.

The leaves are galactagogue; good for burns.-

The seeds and the oil from them have a bad taste; purgative; useful in liver troubles, pains in. the body, lumbago, boils, piles, ringworm, paralysis, inflammations, ascites, asthma, rheumatism, dropsy, amenorrhoea

The leaf is applied to the head to relieve headache, and is common1y used as a poultice for boils. the seeds and the oil from the seeds are used as a purgative

The oil is expressed and used medicinally; and a fomentation is made with the leaves to cure wounds. it is used as an ointment for sores, the leaves; are used

for fomentations; they are bound over boils, and are a good cure, the leaves are boiled and used as a febrifuge.

An infusion of the leaf is remedy for stomach-ache.. some apply a paste of the root in toothache,

The bark is used by natives for stitching up wounds, and as a dressing for wounds and sores..

some apply the powdered roasted seeds to sores, boils, etc., in children.

The foliage is considered emmenagogue, the root-bark purgative, and the leaf useful as a local application in rheumatism.

The local application of the leaf to the mammae is said to produce a powerful galactagogic action.

The bruised leaves are used for caries of the teeth and given with water for colic , the leaves are considered lactagogue and are given in infusion or applied to the breasts. the leaves are applied to the breasts to help the secretion of milk.

Soaked in vinegar they are applied to the foreehead in cases of sunstroke. They act as a powerful sudorific

Castor oil in the form of Cremophor EL (polyethoxylated Castor oil: a mixture of ricinoleic acid, polyglycol ester, glycerol polyglycol esters, and polyglycols) is added to many modern drugs such as: Miconazole, anti-fungal; Paclitaxel, anti-cancer ; Sandimmune (cyclosporine injection, USP) ;

Nelfinavir mesylate, HIV protease inhibitor . Saperconazole has Emulphor EL -719P (a castor oil derivative) ; Prograf has HCO-60 (polyoxyl 60 hydrogenated Castor oil); Balsam Peru – Castor oil – and Trypsin Topical contains Castor oil ; Aci-Jel (acetic acid/oxyquinoline/ricinoleic acid – vaginal); Emla (lidocaine, prilocaine and Castor oil).

Traditional or folk medicines:
Cold pressed Castor oil has been used or time-tested for centuries throughout the world for its anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties long before any government agency was created to regulate medicines.

Medicinal Castor oil was used for skin problems, burns, sunburns, skin disorders, skin cuts, abrasions, etc.

The oil is also used as a rub or pack for various ailments, including abdominal complaints, headaches, muscle pains, inflammatory conditions, skin eruptions, lesions, and sinusitis. A
castor oil pack is made by soaking a piece of flannel in castor oil, then putting it on the
area of complaint and placing a heat source, such as a hot water bottle, on top of it.

Only the oil of the castor bean plant is non-toxic. Castor bean oil has a number of medicinal uses including laxative, purgative, cathartic and demulcent.The seeds of castor bean plant are very poisonous to people, animals and insects – just one milligram of ricin (one of the main toxic proteins in the plant) can kill an adult. It acts by inhibiting protein synthesis. Its property as a protein synthesis inhibitor is the theory behind its trials in cancer therapy.

Industrial Castor oil
Castor oil has over 1000 patented industrial applications and is used in the following   industries: automobile, aviation, cosmetics, electrical, electronics, manufacturing,  pharmaceutical, plastics, and telecommunications. The following is a brief list of Castor oil uses in the above industries: adhesives, brake fluids, caulks, dyes, electrical liquid  dielectrics, humectants, hydraulic fluids, inks, lacquers, leather treatments, lubricating  greases, machining oils, paints, pigments, refrigeration lubricants, rubbers, sealants,  textiles, washing powders, and waxes.

Castor oil’s high lubricity
(reduces friction) is superior to petroleum-based lubricants; for instance, it really clings to metal, especially hot metal, and is used in racing and jet (turbine) engines. In addition, Castor oil is non-toxic and quickly biodegrades; whereas,
petroleum-based oils are potential health hazards, and take a very long time to biodegrade, thus can damage the environment when concentrated .

Castor oil is non-drying oil (slow to oxidize); thus, it remains liquid for a long time. As
a result, it’s naturally a good lubricant, and was a fuel for lamps before alternating
current electricity (AC) was invented.

Castor oil’s value was recognized by the United States Congress in the Agricultural
Materials Act of 1984, and classified as a strategic material.

Lamp fuel
It is said to be the best lamp oil in use in India, giving an excellent white light, vying  in brilliancy with electricity, far superior to petroleum, rape seed, and all other oils,  whether vegetable, animal or mineral.

In Bangladesh, some villagers use castor oil instead of kerosene to fuel lamps.

You may click to learn more about Castor Beans & Castor Oil


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