Castor oil is a vegetable oil with a wide range of cosmetic and medicinal uses.
Some people swear by its weight loss effects due to its laxative properties, though you may wonder whether there’s any evidence to support this claim.
This article examines whether using castor oil is a safe and effective weight loss approach.
Its seeds — commonly known as castor beans — contain ricin, one of the most potent and lethal substances known. However, castor oil does not contain ricin.
The oil has been widely used in traditional medicine to treat stomach disorders, arthritis, and insomnia, as well as induce childbirth (
Today, it remains a popular treatment for constipation, hair growth, and skin dryness. It also has a variety of applications as a food additive and in the industrial industry as a component of lubricants, paints, and biodiesel fuel (
Derived from the castor bean, castor oil has a wide range of medicinal, cosmetic, and industrial uses.
Castor oil has a long history of use in traditional medicine as a laxative.
It contains a compound called ricinoleic acid, which stimulates the intestinal muscles to contract. This can help push material through the bowels (
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorizes castor oil as generally safe and effective to use as a stimulant laxative. However, its use for this purpose has declined over time given the discoveries of more effective laxatives with fewer side effects (
Regardless, the laxative effect of castor oil has been suggested to aid weight loss.
While no studies have specifically examined the effects of castor oil for weight loss, the oil likely relieves constipation, which can result in weight loss (
However, keep in mind that if you lose weight from relieving constipation, any weight loss would merely be the result of removing waste from your digestive system — waste that your body would already be getting rid of.
Aside from relieving constipation, no evidence suggests that castor oil has any direct or indirect ability to aid weight loss, such as by increasing metabolism or decreasing hunger.
Castor oil relieves constipation, but no studies support its purported weight loss benefits.
Despite the lack of evidence to support using castor oil for weight loss, some evidence supports its use for other benefits.
Castor oil has several promising health benefits and uses, including aiding wound healing, improving hair health, relieving pain, and treating acne.
While castor oil is generally considered safe, it can cause negative side effects in some people.
Health authorities have established an acceptable daily intake of up to 0.32 mg per pound (0.7 mg per kg) of body weight (18).
While generally recognized as safe, castor oil can cause adverse effects in some people.
There are no quick fixes for weight loss.
Safe, effective, and sustainable weight loss requires that you limit unhealthy habits and adopt healthy behaviors in their place.
Here are some healthy weight loss tips:
Making behavioral changes can be difficult, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Try to start by making small changes to your habits, and remember to be patient with yourself.
Safe, effective, and sustainable weight loss starts with implementing healthy behaviors centered around your diet, activity, and sleep habits.
Aside from any weight loss that may result from relieving constipation, no evidence supports the use of castor oil for weight loss.
However, the oil may have other uses and benefits related to wound healing, hair health, and the treatment of pain and acne.
If your goal is to lose weight, start by adding more fiber and protein to your diet, becoming more active, focusing on getting good sleep, and tracking your progress.