castor oil side effects


Castor oil is obtained from the plant Ricinus communis belonging to the spurge

family Euphorbiaceae. It is an annual oilseed crop commonly known as castor. It is sometimes called castor bean, but it’s not a true bean in nature (1). Castor oil is having some health benefits and can be used as a laxative and anti-microbial properties & induce labor, it’s also a potent insect repellent. Castor oil side effects are toxin, allergy, infertility, and organ failure if used in excess. Control use is beneficial.

How much castor oil should be used?

When used in a controlled quality this oil can be beneficial. But if used in excess it may cause severe side effects.
Castor oil is classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as generally recognized as safe and effective for use as a stimulant laxative. The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives established an acceptable daily castor oil intake (for men) of 0 to 0.7 mg/kg body weight.

Side effects of Castor oil

1. Presence of toxin

Castor oil is inedible because it contains toxic compounds like ricin (protein),  ricinine (alkaloid), and certain allergens in which ricin is more toxic than ricinine (2). Thus, precaution should be needed before consumption (3).

2. Risk of allergy

Castor oil is commonly used for radiological and colonoscopy examinations, to obtain an accurate diagnosis but after taste and oily texture of this oil are intolerable by most patients and cause adverse effects such as abdominal cramping, vomiting, nausea, abdominal fullness, fainting, and insomnia, patient feel discomforts (4).

3. Risk of infertility

Castor oil exposure at early gestation might lead to infertility in both males and females. This oil decreases testis weight, body weight, sperm count, motility, and normal morphology. Thus castor oil decrease testosterone levels and contain endocrine-disrupting capabilities (5).

4. Risk of infant death

Castor bean contains small amounts of the toxin ricin. Although purification of the oil eliminates these toxins. But a small amount of the active ricinoleic acid is still there. And is absorbed from the intestine.

In Indian culture, castor oil is reportedly applied to the breasts to stimulate lactation. No scientifically valid clinical trials were reported for the above. It may be toxic to the infant and causes paralytic ileus, aspiration pneumonia, and severe hypoalbuminemia. Therefore, the administration of castor oil to newborns is dangerous and should be avoided (6).

5. Risk of organ failure

Large volume intake (500 ml) of castor oil through subcutaneous injection results in multiple organ damage Thus precaution should be needed before this type of unapproved method of cosmetic enhancement (7).

6. Risk of hair falling

A research study suggested that the use of castor oil may result in hair falls Thus this oil leads to a sudden psychological breakdown in the patient and the family (8).

7. Risk of angioedema

Castor oil application may cause allergic contact dermatitis with symptoms like facial swelling and urticated lesions (9). It also results from sulfonated castor oil hair spray. Therefore, precautions should be needed before the application and handling of castor oil beans (10).

8. Mild irritant to eyes

may cause mild irritation when castor oil comes in contact with the eyes. Repeated washing for at least 20 min is generally suggested if cause irritation and in the severe case must consult a doctor.

9. Ingestion of castor oil

Due to the laxative effect of castor oil, it may cause diarrhea or gastrointestinal cramps. Little quantity is otherwise generally safe (11).

Edited By: Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati