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Old 10-10-2008, 05:54 PM   #1
Carol
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Default Castor oil plant

The oil is poisonous, but if you crush it without heat, the poison does not mix in the oil; Also the oil can be used for light.


Castor oil plant - evergreen shrub growing to about 30 ft (10 m) in its natural state, but a much smaller annual when cultivated. Castor oil plant has large, palm-shaped leaves, green female flowers, and prickly red seed capsules.

When archeologists first went into 4,000-year-old Egyptian tombs, their eyes were drawn to sparkling gems, precious metals, finely carved statuary, and the stone sarcophagi in which ancient mummies rested. Only later did they and other researchers pay much attention to the tiny oval objects found in the tombs. Glossy and mottled, seldom more than 1/2 inch long, these objects looked like nothing more than polished bits of marble. But further study showed the "stones" to be millennia-old castor beans, the seeds of an African tree that now grows in warm areas throughout the world and is cultivated by American and European gardeners as a foliage plant.

In its native habitat, the castor oil plant is a tree 30 to 40 feet high, bearing broad, deeply lobed leaves on long stalks. The leaves are purple-bronze when young, gray-green or dark maroon when mature. The petalless female flowers, borne in clusters above the male flowers, develop into burlike capsules containing three seeds each. When the capsules mature and dry out, they explode, scattering their beans. Shrubby dwarf strains no more than 5 feet high have been developed in cultivation, bearing nonexplosive capsules.

The Egyptians used castor oil, derived from the beans, as lamp oil and as an unguent; they also purged their systems three times a month by drinking the oil mixed with beer. The Greeks and Romans - taking note, no doubt, that the beans are poisonous - used the oil only externally. It was not until the late 18th century that the foul-tasting substance regained its ancient role as a laxative.

The bean's poisonous substance, ricin, is one of the deadliest toxins known; eating a single castor bean can kill a child. Fortunately, extracting the oil without the ricin is a fairly simple process. The key is temperature. Heat is used to extract oil from most seeds, but when castor beans are heated, the ricin from the bean is distributed throughout the oil. When the beans are hulled and crushed at temperatures below 100°F, however, they yield a clear or yellowish poison-free oil rich in another substance, ricinolein, which irritates the intestines, causing them to expel their contents.

Castor oil has several commercial application as well. Because it is insoluble in benzine and has a very low freezing point, it is well suited for the lubrication of airplane engines. Castor oil is also used in hydraulic brake fluids and in biodegradable laundry detergents, as well as in paints and varnishes. Oil meant for these purposes is extracted by heat and is poisonous.


PARTS USED

Seed oil, seeds.


USES

Castor oil is well known for its strongly laxative (and, in higher doses, purgative) action, prompting a bowel movement about 3-5 hours after ingestion. The oil is so effective that it is regularly used to clear the digestive tract in cases of poisoning. Castor oil is well tolerated by the skin, and it is sometimes used as a vehicle for medicinal and cosmetic preparations. In India, the oil is massaged into the breasts after childbirth to stimulate milk flow. Indian herbalism uses a poultice of castor oil seeds to relieve swollen and tender joints. In China, the crushed seeds are used to treat facial palsy.

Other medical uses
Homeopathy.


HABITAT AND CULTIVATION

Castor bean plant is probably native to eastern Africa. It is cultivated in hot climates around the world, especially in Africa and southern Asia. The seed capsules are gathered throughout the year when nearly ripe and are then put out in the sun to mature.


CONSTITUENTS

The seeds contain 45-55% fixed oil, which consists mainly of glycerides of ricinoleic acid, ricin (a highly toxic protein), ricinine (an alkaloid), and lectins. The seeds are highly poisonous -2 are sufficient to kill an adult -but the toxins do not pass into the expressed oil.
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Old 10-10-2008, 06:04 PM   #2
whitecrow
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Default Re: Castor oil plant


Used at about 10% in soaps, castor oil acts as a humectant, drawing and holding moisture to the skin, and also enhances the lather with lots of fine, silky suds.
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Old 11-09-2008, 12:45 AM   #3
sunflower
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Default Re: Castor oil plant

Lots of uses for castor oil can be found on the Edgar
Cayce website .org and .com
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Old 11-12-2008, 12:02 PM   #4
Peer
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Default Re: Castor oil plant

Any pics?
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