Herbalists and other practitioners of alternative medicine sing the praises of castor oil. The vegetable oil, which is derived from the castor bean, proves beneficial for a number of ailments, as well as in industrial applications.
- Castor oil purportedly strengthens the immune system, making it an ideal substance for fighting some major diseases. The oil holds health benefits for those suffering from Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, arthritis, rheumatism, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, hemorrhoids, typhoid fever and even AIDS. However, little if no major scientific evidence exists to support the assertions made by various alternative medicine sources.
- In addition to major diseases, castor oil proves useful in managing a number of more common ailments and afflictions. The most common of these is constipation, which castor oil is known to work wonders with. It is also used to right ringworm, migraines, yeast infections, sunburn, athlete’s foot, skin abrasions, inflammation, menstrual disorders, acne, migraines and gastrointestinal problems. Some use castor oil to induce labor, so pregnant women should be careful with using it.
- The industrial applications of castor oil are many. The oil formed the base of the first fabricated detergent created after soap and was used in the treatment of leather for many years. Chemical engineers have created a number of important materials using castor oil as a base product, including industrial lubricants, plastic polymers, plastic films, airplane lubricants, emulsifiers, coatings, inks and shatterproof glass.
- In the early years of the 21st Century, castor oil has been put forth as potential source of biodiesel fuel. Though biodeisel created from castor oil is not as abundant or popular as fuels created from ethanol or switchgrass, it does exist. Pure castor oil that has not be converted into fuel can be used to power diesel vehicles with engines that have been converted to run on vegetable oil, though this use is not exclusive to castor; any vegetable oil will do the trick.