Castor oil is a multi-purpose vegetable oil that people have used for thousands of years.
It’s made by extracting oil from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant.
These seeds, which are known as castor beans, contain a toxic enzyme called ricin. However, the heating process that castor oil undergoes deactivates it, allowing the oil to be used safely.
Castor oil has a number of medicinal, industrial and pharmaceutical uses.
It's commonly used as an additive in foods, medications and skin care products, as well as an industrial lubricant and biodiesel fuel component.
In ancient Egypt, castor oil was burned as fuel in lamps, used as a natural remedy to treat ailments like eye irritation and even given to pregnant women to stimulate labor (1Trusted Source).
Today, castor oil remains a popular natural treatment for common conditions like constipation and skin ailments and is commonly used in natural beauty products.