Can castor oil treat arthritis?


Arthritis patients are likely to seek alternative therapies, because they may feel let down by the standard of care. One such alternative therapy involves the oral or transdermal use of castor oil to reduce pain and inflammation and improve motor function.

Castor oil is a part of ancient Egyptian and Ayurvedic traditional medicine, with therapeutic use dating back at thousands of years. Today, it is still used clinically as an alternative therapy for multiple conditions. There is a growing body of scientific research investigating the mechanisms behind the scenes of castor oil’s healing properties.

What is castor oil?

Castor oil is an oil derived from the castor plant, also known by its Latin name Ricinus communis. The plant is native to Egypt and India, accounting for the use of castor oil in ancient Egyptian and Ayurvedic medical tradition.

The primary bioactive compound in castor oil is ricinoleic acid, which comprises 90% of the oil. Ricinoleic acid is an unsaturated fatty acid, with multiple functional groups. Other fatty acids and their glycosidic derivatives comprise the remaining 10%.

Research suggests that chemical components of castor oil may have therapeutic properties including:

  •       anti-inflammatory
  •       anti-oxidant
  •       antibacterial
  •       hepatoprotective
  •       anti-nociceptive effect
  •       anti-cancer activities

In particular, the anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive properties are useful for the treatment of arthritis.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis as a word refers to inflammation of the joint. As a disease condition, arthritis may refer to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. These two conditions have overlapping symptoms, but distinct mechanisms – and therefore, distinct treatment strategies. We will discuss the use of castor oil in both of these conditions.

Osteoarthritis vs. Rheumatoid arthritis

Osteoarthritis is when the articular cartilage deteriorates due to overuse, injury, or poor body mechanics. It presents as a gradual onset of dull, achy pain in the affected joints, which could be anywhere in the body.

The wear-and-tear eventually leads to bone-on-bone friction, and loss of the underlying bone, causing pain and loss of motor function. The body’s natural defense system will try to remedy the situation by sending immune cells to the area. These cells accumulate in the joint fluid, reducing lubrication and impairing the delivery of nutrients to the area.

Rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis because it is autoimmune. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system targets the synovial membranes of multiple joints. The synovial membrane becomes inflamed and invades the joint space, which pushes on the bones leading to deformities.

Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is often symmetrical in the body, may be better with movement, and may also present with systemic signs. Like other autoimmune conditions, rheumatoid arthritis may have periods of remission and exacerbation.

In standard care, osteoarthritis is typically managed with NSAIDS, and rheumatoid arthritis may be managed with immunosuppressants.

Can castor oil treat arthritis?

In traditional medicine, castor oil is a treatment for both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. Castor oil can be applied directly to the inflamed area, or taken orally as a capsule or tablet. It can also be applied on the belly accompanied by heat, as a castor oil pack, to encourage systemic healing.

Oral castor oil may be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis. A randomized controlled trial, which is the highest quality of clinical evidence, showed that oral castor oil was an effective treatment for knee osteoarthritis over a 4-week period. Castor oil had the further advantage of having no adverse effects, unlike the control group taking NSAIDS. Although more clinical trials are needed to ascertain the efficacy of castor oil for treating osteoarthritis, castor oil has a good safety profile and can also be experimented with on an individual basis.

Animal studies have also investigated the usefulness of castor oil for the treatment of arthritis. Arthritic rats demonstrated a decrease in multiple inflammatory stress markers following castor oil administration. These findings may be relevant for both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.

Topical vs. oral castor oil

Castor oil is technically a non-edible oil, and is not typically consumed for nutritional value. It may, however, be taken orally for therapeutic reasons. In traditional medicine, castor oil may be administered orally or topically. Although scientific research has so far focused on oral castor oil, topical castor oil could still be useful.

More scientific research is needed to unequivocally prove that castor oil is effective for the treatment of castor oil. However, preliminary research in combination with traditional clinical experience have shown promising results. Castor oil may be an appropriate therapy for arthritis patients seeking alternative care.

Lab Alley is pleased to provide you with the highest quality castor oil for your industry needs. If you have questions about castor oil, or any of our products, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

Buy Castor Oil Now

< Back