Ricinus communis

Ricinus communis                         Common name:  Castor bean
Family: Euphorbiaceae

Parts used:  Seeds, leaves, young seedlings

Constituents:  Ricinoleic acid, fixed oils, ricin (toxalbumin), ricinine

Medicinal actions:  Laxative, anti-inflammatory

Medicinal use:  Ricinus has both internal and external application.  Internally, Ricinus is used as a purgative agent. The seeds are highly toxic when taken internally and thus must be used with extreme caution. The oil of Ricinus does not extract the ricin and therefore is safer to take internally.  As a purgative, its effect dramatic and pronounced.

Externally, Ricinus is applied over an area of inflammation or injury.  Its topical application reduces inflammation of the tissues in the area and speed healing time of injured tissue. Castor oil applied topically over the intestines will also promote purgation. Topical application is also safe because the main toxic ingredient, ricin in not extracted from the seeds into the commonly used oil.

Pharmacy: Externally:  Apply Ricinus oil as needed over intact skin.

Toxicity:  Toxic dose is 2-4 seeds for adults.  Fatal dose is 2-4 dose in children, 8 seeds in adults. Toxicity symptoms: Immediately:  burning of mouth and throat, thirst, vomiting, stomach pain, dull weak rapid pulse, uremia, diarrhea, colic. 2-5 days later:  h/a, dizziness, dullness of vision, depression, liver and kidney damage, retinal, scleral or CNS hemorrhage, trembling, weakness, convulsions. Death up to 12 days after ingestion.Treat with emesis or gastric lavage, activated charcoal, vit. C, alkalinize blood.

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