Our grandmother’s remedies are usually well meaning, but knowing what we know in this age, are they still sound advice? One age-old suggestion for remedying constipation is the use of castor oil as a laxative. This is an idea that’s been around for many years and now science now has solid research that has laid to rest any questions of efficacy. Despite our bitter memories of castor oil’s bitter flavor, science suggests that castor oil is both safe and advised; however, like any other substance you consume, it’s important to fully understand the ins and outs of this natural remedy before using.
How to Use Castor Oil
Although castor oil is safe to use regularly when used in accordance with common sense and product instructions, there are some precautions and general guidelines that should be followed. While this may go without saying, castor oil is intended for oral consumption only. If the taste is not to your liking, hiding it in a glass of juice or water will still allow for the same results. Additionally, you can add some honey or sugar into it to distract from the bitterness. It is important that castor oil be taken prior to eating anything.
How Much Castor Oil Should You Take?
Castor oil works by stimulating your intestines. While it is generally safe, a small child would not want to consume the same amount as an adult. It is possible to take too much castor oil and cause poisoning that will make you extremely sick. The following serves as a general guideline, but for specific serving, it’s best to discuss with a trusted healthcare advisor or consult the product you’re taking.
- Over 12 years old can take a maximum of 4 T. in one dose (though 1 T. usually does the job)
- Do not use for children younger than 12 unless directed by a physician
- Take for no longer than 1 week without yielding results
- Do not take other medications within 2 hours of taking the castor oil
Castor Oil Side Effects
While castor oil is a much better alternative to traditional laxatives, some people may find that taking too much castor oil can cause extreme abdominal discomfort. Take care to follow proper instructions. If the pain becomes intense or lasting, don’t hesitate to consult your healthcare advisor. Additionally, you may feel nauseas, dizzy, extremely tired, or weak. Most who use the natural laxative experience minimal to no side effects at all. It’s thought to be a safe alternative, but do be aware of the possibility of experiencing some discomfort. If you have been using castor oil for one week and see no improvements, stop and consult your healthcare provider. You may have larger issues to contend with.
Castor oil is also used to induce labor; therefore, do not use this as a laxative if you are pregnant. Research is still unclear as to whether or not it filters into a mother breast milk, so you should also avoid using it while breast feeding.
Have you used castor oil as a laxative? What were your experiences? Please share your insight and any tips or suggestions you may have.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM