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Castor Bean - Guidelines for Using Castor Bean - Uses and Benefits

Taxonomic class

Euphorbiaceae

Common Trade Names

Alphamul, Aromatic Castor Oil USP 23, Carmencita, Castor Oil Caps USP 23, Emulsoil, Fleet Castor Oil Emulsion, Neoloid, Purge, Ricino Koki, Unisoil

Common Forms

Castor oil emulsion: Alphamul60% (90 ml, 3,780 ml), Emulsoil95% (63 ml), Fleet Flavored Castor Oil 67% (45 ml, 90 ml), Neoloid 36.4% (US ml)

Castor oil liquid: 100% (60 ml, 120 ml, 480 ml)

Purge: 95% (30 ml, 60 ml)

Source

Castor oil is obtained by cold-pressing the seeds of Ricinus communis, a perennial herb believed to be native to Africa and India.

Chemical Components

Castor oil contains 45% to 50% oil. The oil is a mixture of triglycerides, of which 75% to 90% is ricinoleic acid. The poisonous phytotoxins ricin and ricinine are present in seed cake and oil.

Actions

Castor oil increases peristalsis and laxative action by stimulating the intramural nerve plexus of the small intestinal musculature. It also promotes fluid and ion accumulation in the colon. Castor oil given orally produces one or more stools 2 to 6 hours after ingestion. Ricin is a poisonous protein that disrupts DNA synthesis and protein metabolism, resulting in cell death.

Reported Uses

Castor oil is an official USP product used as a laxative and a protectant in hair conditioners as well as in skin creams for treating rash. Application of the oil to an irritated conjunctiva caused by a foreign body provides soothing relief. Castor oil is commonly used to empty the GI tract of gas and feces before proctoscopy or radiographic studies. Topical application of castor oil has also been claimed to dissolve cysts, growths, and warts and to soften bunions and corns. It is also believed to expel worms if used with anthelmintics. No controlled human trials are available to support these claims.

Dosage

For constipation, 15 to 60 ml of castor oil P.O. daily.

Adverse reactions

CNS: dizziness, fainting.

GI: abdominal cramps and pain.

Large oral doses

GI: colicky pain, nausea, severe purgation, vomiting.

Long-term use

Metabolic: iluid and electrolyte loss.

Skin: allergic reactions (in seed handlers).

Interactions

None reported.

Contraindications And Precautions

Avoid using castor bean in pregnant or breast-feeding patients; effects

are unknown. Use cautiously in patients with appendicitis, intestinal obstruction, rectal bleeding, and sensitivity to castor oil. Prolonged use of castor oil can result in laxative dependency. Castor oil can also cause malabsorption of fat-soluble vitamins, fluid, and electrolytes.

Special Considerations

Alert Leaves are considered poisonous. Ricin and ricinine can cause toxic symptoms, such as abdominal pain, hepatic and renal injury, irritation of the oral cavity and esophagus, nausea, seizures, and vomiting, and even death . Reversible hepatotoxicity reportedly developed in a 20-month-old infant with no GI symptoms 48 to 72 hours after ingestion of castor beans .

Castor oil may be refrigerated to improve palatability.

Inquire about laxative use when taking the drug history.

Instruct the patient to drink plenty of fluids (6 to 8 glasses) daily.

Caution the patient to use cascara sagrada for no longer than a few days.

Advise women to avoid using castor bean during pregnancy or when breast-feeding.

points of Interest

Castor oil flowers develop into spiny capsules that contain three seeds (also called beans). As they dry, the capsules explode, scattering the seeds.

Commentary

Although castor oil is an official USP product used for its laxative effects, other, more gentle and palatable laxatives exist. Standardized forms of this product are available and recommended over nonstandard herbal preparations. Other uses claimed for this product have little or no supporting clinical evidence.

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