Introduction

If you’re an enthusiast of natural remedies, you’ve probably come across castor oil before. This multi-purpose vegetable oil has been used to treat and prevent many ailments for centuries.

There’s another version of this popular oil, named Jamaican black castor oil.

If you’re wondering how these two oils differ, it’s worth noting that the same castor oil plant is used, but the oil is extracted in two different ways. As a result of that, some differences between the products occur – although many of the health benefits remain the same.

Essentially, castor oil undergoes commercial processing, while Jamaican black castor oil is extracted the traditional way.

First, the beans are roasted – then they are crushed in a mortar. After that, water is added to the beans, and the mixture is slow-boiled on a wood fire. This results in an unaltered, pungent smelling, thick dark brown oil. This type of oil is more alkaline than castor oil, due to the presence of ashes in the beans.

Both types of castor oil have a range of incredible health benefits – from promoting hair growth to boosting skin health. However, Jamaican black castor oil has more pronounced benefits – given its unadulterated method of processing.

These benefits of Jamaican castor oil are not just folk tales, but there are plenty of research studies that back them up. We’ve taken an insider look and listed the health benefits of Jamaican black castor oil below.

It’s A Powerful Laxative

One of the most widely known medicinal properties of castor oil is as a powerful, natural laxative. As a stimulant laxative, it increases the movement of the muscles used to push material through the intestines, this way helping clear the bowels.

Consumed by mouth, castor oil is broken down in the small intestine, where ricinoleic acid – a monosaturated fatty acid which is the main fatty acid found in black castor oil – is released. This acid is absorbed by the intestine, which causes a strong laxative effect [1] – and can provide effective constipation relief.

Many studies have supported this claim. For example, a study into the effect of castor oil on constipation of elderly participants found that taking castor oil resulted in decreased symptoms of constipation [2]. However, it is important to note that while castor oil can be consumed and is considered safe in small doses, large amounts can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping and diarrhea [3].

It Has Natural Moisturizing Properties

As mentioned above, castor oil is rich in ricinoleic acid – which is a fatty acid that has powerful moisturizing properties. These types of fatty acids act as humectants, which prevent water loss through the outer layer of the skin, this way retaining moisture [4]. Which is why castor oil is widely used in cosmetics to promote skin hydration – and added to products like make-up, lotions, and cleansers.

Castor oil can also be used as an effective natural moisturizer instead of store-bought products. Many beauty products contain harmful ingredients such as dyes and perfumes, which can irritate the skin [5]. Using castor oil may be a great way to avoid such ingredients, keep skin healthy, and prevent symptoms like scaling and itchiness without the use of chemical ingredients.

It Has Been Shown to Reduce Inflammation

Ricinoleic acid also has excellent anti-inflammatory qualities. Multiple studies [7] have shown that when applied topically, castor oil relieves pain and reduces inflammation.

One particular study conducted in 2014 showed that, when affected areas were treated with a gel containing ricinoleic acid by application to the skin, this led to a significant reduction in inflammation and pain [8].

Further analysis in the laboratory showed that ricinoleic acid was most effective in reducing inflammation caused by human rheumatoid arthritis cells more than the other treatment.

It May Help Reduce Acne

Acne is a skin condition which affects most people at some point, characterized by pus-filled red pimples due to infected sebaceous glands. It is caused by blockages in the tiny holes in the skin, known as hair follicles. Jamaican black castor oil has several qualities that can boost your skin health, and effectively reduce acne.

Firstly, inflammation is one of the key factors in the development of acne – as well as its severity. Since Jamaican black castor oil naturally fights inflammation, applying it to the skin may help reduce acne symptoms which have been linked to it [9].

In addition to that, acne is often associated with an imbalance of various types of skin bacteria (such as Staphylococcus aureus) [10]. Castor oil has antimicrobial properties, which may help balance the bacteria by fighting bacterial overgrowth.

It Promotes Wound Healing

Castor oil also boosts wound healing by creating a moist environment that prevents sores from drying out.

Castor oil is one of the ingredients of Venelex – a widely used ointment which treats wounds. The ointment contains a mixture of castor oil and Balsam Peru – a balm derived from Myroxylon tree [11]. Balsam Peru increases blood flow to the affected area and helps fight bacteria – while castor oil prevents skill cells from breaking down, this way supporting wound healing.

It helps form a barrier between the wound and the environment by stimulating tissue growth, which decreases the risk of infection. A build-up of dead skin cells (called cornification) can delay wound healing [12] – and castor oil effectively reduces it.

Some studies have shown that ointments with castor oil may be particularly helpful in healing pressure ulcers (also known as pressure sores) – an injury which is caused by prolonged pressure on the skin.

A study of pressure ulcer treatments in long-term care facilities [13] found that the wounds that were treated with castor oil healed more and in a shorter time than those treated with other methods.

It May Help Maintain Healthy Teeth and Gums

Common oral health issues like plaque overgrowth, root canal infections, and gum infections are caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. Castor oil has antifungal qualities, which may help maintain healthy teeth and gums [14].

Several studies have shown that castor oil effectively eliminates the fungus from contaminated human tooth roots [15].

It may also help treat denture-related stomatitis, a painful condition caused by the fungus overgrowth which is common among the elderly who wear dentures. A study of 30 participants with denture-related stomatitis found that castor oil treatment improved the clinical signs of stomatitis (including inflammation) [16].

It Can Help You Maintain Healthy Hair & Scalp

The benefits of castor oil for hair and scalp are also very well-known. Many people use it as a natural moisturizer on hair since it can provide intense hydration for hair that’s dry and damaged. Using castor oil in its natural form on hair may help lubricate the hair shaft, this way improving flexibility and reducing breakage [17].

The oil may also help those who experience dandruff. While there are many different causes of dry, flaky skin on the head, it is often associated with seborrhoeic dermatitis – a condition characterized by inflamed skin that causes scaly, red patches on the scalp [18]. Since castor oil has anti-inflammatory properties, it could help treat dandruff that’s caused by seborrhoeic dermatitis.

Conclusion

Jamaican black castor oil is a natural remedy that has been used for thousands of years. It remains a popular treatment for many common health issues, from constipation and digestive system ailments to acne and dandruff.

Due to its healing properties, Jamaican black castor oil is also used as an additive in foods, medications, as well as skin care products [20]. However, many people choose to use it as a remedy either topically or internally in its natural form, this way reducing their intake of any harmful additives that are often found in commercial cosmetic products.

The healing benefits of Jamaican castor oil are not just folk tales – there are plenty of studies that back it up. Research shows that Jamaican black castor oil has a wide range of health benefits – from improving hair and skin health to reducing inflammation and providing pain relief. However, it is important to note that, while it is safe for most people, allergic reactions could occur, and you should always consult the pharmacist or your doctor before use.

This list of benefits should give you a better understanding of how Jamaican black castor oil could help improve various aspects of your health – and help you decide whether it’s something you should consider using.

Beth Coats, RD LN
Beth Coats, RD LN
Staff Writer at DietProbe
Beth is a registered dietician with over 20 years experience in general nutrition.
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