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Notes on the Castor Bean

CASTOR BEAN - Ricinus communus. Bulgarian: K:relezh, Ritsin. Russian: Kleshchevina. Cav*pus.*e, Castor Oil Plant, Castorbean, Carrapateiro, Catapucia Mayor, Csodafa, Degha, Higuera Infernal, Higuerilla, Huile de Ricin, Mamona, Mbarika, Mërtik, Oil Nut Tree, Oleum Ricini, Otomí, Palma Cristi, Palmacristi, Rac*cznik, Recin, Ricin, Ricín, Ricino, Rícino, Ricinus, Ricinusz, Risiini, Skocv*ec Obecny'*, Tlapatl, Wonderolieplant, Wunderbaum. Akimel: Maamsh. Mayan: Koch. Seri: Hehe caacoj "large plant". Takic: Navish "Poisonous" (applied to any relevant plant). Aceite de Castor, Aceite de Higuerilla, Aceite de Palma Christi, Aceite de Ricino, Castor Oil, Oleum Ricini. The oil from the seed. Castor, Castoreum. A concrete substance from the fiber. Exotic. Has pharmacological properties. It is an ornamental which is used to provide shade for fowl. I would discourage its use for this purpose.

The entire plant, but especially the seeds, is toxic. It contains a phytotoxin: ricin. Eating just a few seeds (one to three in a child, two to eight in an adult) will cause circulatory failure and death. It can produce severe allergic reactions. Symptoms include dermatitis, asthma, burning of the mucous membranes, stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, excessive thirst, dullness of vision, kidney failure, prostration, circulatory collapse, and death in one to twelve days. Even handling the seeds can produce a reaction, and the flowers can cause respiratory problems.


For medicine, use the seeds. They contain aleurone, ricinine (which is either an alkaloid or a salt of magnesia), ricin, which is an albuminoid material of the group of atypical ferments: also called phytalbumin, emulsin, greasy oil 50 to 60%, latex, sugar, malic and gallic acids, woody material, etc. Purgative in doses of 3 to 4 grams, the leaves are believed to be galactophores. The principal application is for extracting the oil which has many uses in medicine. The oil is prepared by compression or extraction with a solvent. The medicinal oil is extracted from the hulled seed by a cold process. In order to refine the product, you treat it by coagulation and eliminating the albuminous materials and the enzymes, heating the oil and then filtering. It is a viscous oil with a nauseating odor. It can be heated and mixed with mineral oil. It contains tristearin and glycerides of dioxystearic and ricinoleic acids and their isomers; choloesterin and other nonsaponifiable materials. It is a cheap oil, so other oils are rarely sold under its name. Purgative in doses of 30 to 60 grams. In children under one year, a teaspoonful; 10 grams at two years. You can prescribe it emulsified with latex, sweetened and flavored with mint, lemon or orange flavor, manzanilla, etc. In enemas you prescribe a dose from 60 to 80 grams emulsified. The seed oil is used in a compress or poultice for drawing out infective growths such as cysts, warts, ganglions, on bruises and sprains, and on the abdomen, or as a rub to draw out liver and gallbladder toxins. Laxative, purgative, and for detoxifying the liver. The seeds are purgative, emetic, and used for upset stomach. A decoction of the root was drunk for colic and swelling of the abdomen and legs. A decoction of the leaves, mixed with wild ginger and ground ivy and fermented with a little sugar or molasses, is purgative. It is used for dropsy, yaws, and venereal disease. Use a poultice of the same for gangrene, spread on one of the leaves, and for worms attached to the skin. The oil was used for dry bellyache, cold aches and pains, cramps, and contractions. It will keep without becoming rancid. For ulcers and dropsy, mash eight ounces of the nuts and green skins, and infuse them in twenty ounces of warm water overnight, and add four ounces of rum. Use four spoonsful in the morning. Use it twice or three times for yaws. For sores on the head, apply the mashed seeds. Black slaves pulverized two to four seeds in a glass of water and used it as a super purgative for fever. This could be deadly, however! The ground leaves are used as an emollient for ophthalmia, abscesses, and inflammation. Young leaves provoke or increase lactation. The leaves were used for rheumatism. The leaves and young shoots were used for sore throat. The dry beans, ground into a powder, or the ripe beans crushed, are applied to sores, and for lice. The seeds are used as an ointment for boils and skin irritations. It is said that a woman who uses this plant becomes sterile. The mashed seeds mixed with salt were rubbed into deer hides to tan them, and left on the stretched skin for two days. The seed oil is called Castor Oil. It is laxative and purgative. It is not wise to it use frequently, because it upsets the digestive system and can provoke intoxication. It should be taken in cases where it is desirable to clean the intestines quickly. Externally, it is used to calm rheumatic pain, rubbed into the affected part.

The oil which is destined for industrial uses is prepared without removing the epicarp. Castor oil is used as a lubricant for heavy machinery and airplane engines because it does not congeal at low temperatures. Chemically altered Castor Oil is used as a drying oil in paints, and Turkey red oil, a dye. A mixture of Castor Oil and tallow can be used to vermin-proof leather. The oil can be used to make soap. It is the main ingredient in nearly all lipsticks. The cake, when treated to remove the ricin and phytotoxin, is used as livestock feed.


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