Castor beans are the seeds of the castor oil plant Ricinus communis. The plant is native to East Africa, although it can be found all around the Mediterranean region and Indian subcontinent. Many people in America even grow a castor bean plant in their garden to help keep pests away.
The castor oil plant is a member of the spurge family. The seeds from the castor oil plant are rich in oil, which comprises between 40% and 60% of the weight of the seeds. The oil, which is usually obtained by cold pressing the seeds, has many medicinal and industrial uses.
Many people associate castor beans with the poison ricin. While it is true that the seed case from the castor bean plant contains a small quantity of ricin, this toxin is not soluble in oil. When the seeds are pressed, the oil is free from any toxins and is therefore perfectly safe for medicinal use and beauty treatments.
Medicinal Uses of Castor Beans
Castor beans have many highly beneficial properties and have long been used in medicine. The oil produced from castor beans contains omega 6 essential fatty acids. These need to be consumed, as the body is unable to produce them itself. They play an important role in the function of many bodily systems. These essential fatty acids – which can be obtained from the oil of the castor bean plant – are traditional treatments for the following medical conditions:
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- High blood pressure
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Breast cancer
- Menopause symptoms
Castor beans also contain vitamin E, which is needed to maintain healthy skin and hair. This vitamin is often used in skin creams and anti-aging beauty products, as it is excellent for keeping the skin supple and countering the effect of aging.