View full article | Evidence for the Topical Application of Castor Oil: A Systematic Review
Deborah A. Kennedy, MBA, ND,1,2,3 Dana Keaton, NMD, LAC4

 

Abstract

Background: Castor oil has been used for centuries in medicinal and nonmedicinal applications. By far, the most common use is as a cathartic to treat constipation. However, castor oil has also been administered topically, and it is the evidence associated with the topical application of castor oil that is the focus of this review.

Methods: PubMed, Embase, Alt-Med, and CINAHL databases were searched using the terms castor oil/therapeutic usericinoleic acid, and Ricinus communis/therapeutic use, not ricin, from inception to July 2009.

Results: Seven studies investigated the topical use of castor oil through direct application of the oil or in the form of castor oil packs.

Conclusions: Preliminary evidence suggests that castor oil may modulate white blood cell count and may have a positive effect on liver function and cholesterol levels; further research is needed in these areas. The topical application of castor oil has been shown to reduce the pain of neurogenic inflammation and to lubricate the eyes as artificial tears.

Sources of support: Dr Kennedy’s efforts on this project were supported by a career development grant from the SickKids Foundation.

Running Head: Topical Application of Castor Oil

1Department of Research and Clinical Epidemiology
Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine
1255 Sheppard Ave E
Toronto, ON M2K 1E2, Canada
email: dkennedy@ccnm.edu

2Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology
The Hospital for Sick Children
555 University Ave
Toronto, ON M5G 1X8, Canada

3Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
University of Toronto
144 College St
Toronto, ON M5S 3M2, Canada

4Center for Natural Medicine
906 W McDowell Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85007
email: drkeaton@cox.net

Correspondence to:

Deborah A. Kennedy, MBA, ND

Department of Research & Clinical Epidemiology
Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine
1255 Sheppard Ave E
Toronto, ON M2K 1E2, Canada
email: dkennedy@ccnm.edu

Keywords:

castor oil, topical application, botanical medicine, complementary and alternative medicine


 

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