CAM Conference

Evidence for the Topical Application of Castor Oil: A Systematic Review

Authors: DA Kennedy, D Keaton


Background: Castor oil has been known and used for centuries with both medicinal and non-medicinal uses. By far the most known use for castor oil is as a cathartic to address constipation.

However, castor oil has also been used topically and it is the evidence associated with the topical use of castor oil that is the focus of this review.

Method: Pubmed, Embase, Alt Med, and CINAHL databases were searched using the terms “castor oil/therapeutic use,” “ricinoleic acid,” and “Ricinus communis/therapeutic use” not “ricin” from inception to July 2009.

Results: 7 studies were found investigating the topical use of castor oil either through direct application of the oil or in the form of a castor oil packs.

Discussion/Conclusion: Preliminary evidence suggests that castor oil may modulate WBC (white blood count) and have a positive impact on liver function and cholesterol levels; further research is required in this area.

The topical application of castor oil has been shown to reduce the pain of neurogenic inflammation and lubricate the eyes as artificial tears.

Presented at the 2010 American Association for Naturopathic Physicians conference

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