Perhaps one of the most popular uses of castor oil for the body is for constipation. Castor oil is used as laxative for over a millennium already, as medical practitioners in ancient Egypt had discovered the laxative properties of castor oil early on. Through the years, castor oil has been used for curing constipation and other intestinal problems. However, castor oil laxative also has some notable side effects that you need to take note of. Here are some of things that you need to know about castor oil laxative.
Castor Oil for Constipation
Castor oil is extracted from the seeds of the castor plant, and is classified as a vegetable oil. It possesses a wide variety of medicinal properties, and one of them is its laxative properties. Even though it has been used as such since the time of the ancient Egyptians, it is only through recent studies that the laxative properties of castor oil have been explored.
According to studies, castor oil laxative works because of one of its components, ricinoleic acid. This acid binds to cellular receptors EP3 and EP4, which are prostaglandin receptors responsible for certain biological functions related to the digestion, kidney reabsorption, uterine contraction, and the nervous system.
Hence, when you take castor oil laxative, the ricinoleic acid molecules connect with the prostaglandin receptors in the mucous membrane of the intestines, thus increasing digestive activity. It stimulates the colon walls and helps move fecal matter through the bowel and outside the body, thus alleviating constipation symptoms.
Castor oil laxative also helps prevent fluid absorption from the intestines. Because of this, the bowel can hold back more moisture, allowing for the easy passage of stools out of the anal canal. Hence, castor oil laxative acts as a lubricant for fecal matter to easily pass through the intestines and the bowels.
Castor Oil Recommended Dosage
Before taking any brand of castor oil laxative, you need to check out the instruction in the product package. You also have to consult your doctor and ask if it is safe for you to use, especially if you have other illnesses and maintenance medications. The dosage of castor oil laxative that you need to take depends on your age and the severity of constipation that you are experiencing.
Normally, the dosage set for adults is one teaspoon once a day on an empty stomach. For children, the common dosage is half teaspoon only. Make sure that you do not take castor oil laxative for more than seven days unless prescribed by your doctor, or else serious side effects might appear. It is also recommended to take castor oil laxative at the same time every day for effective and fast improvement.
Castor oil laxative is available in both liquid and capsule forms. Liquid castor oil is known for having a foul taste, so you may dilute it in juice before taking.
Castor Oil Precautions and Side Effects
Before taking castor oil laxative, make sure that you ask your doctor about it first. If your constipation is not yet fully relieved after seven straight days of taking it, stop taking the dosage and inform your physician.
Some people may be allergic to castor oil, so do watch out for any allergic reactions such as rashes, itchiness, and difficulty of breathing. You should also watch out for symptoms of appendicitis or sudden abnormal changes in bowel movements, such as prolonged stomach and abdominal pain, bleeding from rectum, nausea, and vomiting. Keep in mind that castor oil laxative should not be taken by pregnant women and pregnant mothers, unless otherwise prescribed by the physician.
Regular use of castor oil laxative for longer than seven days may cause health complications such as long-lasting constipation and loss of intestinal function. It is also possible to have side effects such as persistent nausea, vomiting, dizziness, muscle cramps, and even diarrhea. Rare and serious side effects include rashes, itchiness, body weakness, severe dizziness, and difficulty in breathing. If you experience such symptoms, report them to your doctor immediately.
How to Take Castor Oil Laxative
If you want to learn how castor oil laxative can relieve constipation, here are the steps on how to do just that:
- Determine the dosage of castor oil that you need. If your doctor prescribed it to you, take the dosage as instructed by your health care provider. If you bought it from a drug store, take the recommended dosage in the label. If there are no instructions whatsoever, take the recommended dosage of one teaspoon for adults and half teaspoon for children, once a day.
- Take the castor oil immediately after you wake up and before you eat breakfast, since it works best on an empty stomach.
- Since liquid castor oil has a foul taste, you may mix it with cranberry juice, orange juice, prune juice, or ginger juice to preserve its laxative effects. You will start feeling its effects within four to six hours after ingestion.
- If castor oil laxative does not work within seven days, stop the intake and contact your health care provider. You may already be suffering from a condition other than constipation.
Remember, if you are experiencing constipation, castor oil may be the solution. After all, it has been proven effective by millions of people since the ancient times. However, always be careful of its side effects and make sure that you consult your doctor first before taking it.