The frequency of bowel movements differs from person to person. The bowel movements may sometimes be strained or incomplete which leads to hardening of the contents of the intestine. If the condition persists for up to 3 days, it makes the emptying of bowels even more painful, resulting in the condition known as constipation. Constipation in itself is not a disease; it may be a symptom of an underlying condition.
Causes of Constipation
A sedentary lifestyle, bad eating habits, lack of hydration, and consuming too much caffeine and alcohol can disrupt your bowel movements and restrict the passage of stools, leading to constipation. (2)
Precautions for using Castor Oil for Constipation
Do not use castor oil for constipation if any of the following apply to you:
Experiencing severe abdominal pain or rectal bleeding
Taking any diuretic
Suffering from blocked intestines
Caution: If castor oil does not relieve your constipation after 7 days, stop using the home remedies and consult your doctor. You may be suffering from some other health issue that needs your doctor’s intervention.
Risk Factors and Complications
If constipation is not dealt with proper medication on time, it may lead to:
Hemorrhoids due to restricted bowel movement
Anal fissures (skin damage in the anal region)
Fecal impaction further leading to stomach cramps
Rectal prolapse, a condition where a part of the large intestine may come out from the anus
Castor Oil as a Natural Home Remedy for Constipation
Before looking for the latest medicine, it is safer to see if natural home remedies can get the gunk out of your system.
One such home remedy is castor oil. Used as a purgative for ages, the ricinoleic acid in castor oil helps relieve constipation by stimulating and lubricating the intestinal walls for easier passage of stools. The viscous oil also prevents fluid absorption by the intestines, enabling the bowel to hold more moisture and facilitate easier excretion. (3)
There are different ways you can use castor oil for constipation. If you can stand its unpleasant taste, you can consume it directly or mix it with other ingredients in the right dosage. If that’s not your cup of tea, you can use it topically as well. In fact, you can use castor oil for various hair, skin and health remedies.
If you’ve been suffering from constipation and failed to get relief from other home remedies, give castor oil a try. Use only 100% organic, cold-pressed, hexane-free castor oil, as it is the least processed and contains the highest concentration of nutrients.
Here are the five best ways for people of any age to use castor oil for constipation.
Method 1: Direct Consumption
Nothing works better than consuming straight castor oil for constipation, first thing in the morning. Taking the oil on an empty stomach will enable it to work faster. Ideally, the oil will take 2 to 6 hours to stimulate your intestines and induce a bowel movement. (4) (5)
Single-Step Treatment: Consume castor oil in the morning on an empty stomach
You should check with your doctor for the right dosage to take. The general guidelines are:
Adults and children above 12 years of age – 15 to 60 ml
Children ages 2 through 11 – 5 to 15 ml
Children below 2 years of age – 1 to 5 ml
A single dose will likely cure your constipation. But to get relief from chronic constipation, you may need to consume it once daily on an empty stomach for 3 or 4 days (or up to a maximum of 7 days).
Method 2: Castor Oil with Juice
Since plain castor oil can be unpleasant to consume, you can mix it with some juice to make it easier to chug down. While the castor oil will work as a laxative, the fiber in the fruit juice will help hold moisture in your stool for easier passage. You can use orange, cranberry, prune or ginger juice for this remedy. (6)
Things you’ll need:
Castor oil (laxative) – 1 tablespoon
Orange juice (high in fiber) – 1 cup
Single-Step Treatment: Mix castor oil in juice & drink it each morning
Add 1 tablespoon of castor oil to 1 cup of fresh juice. We used orange juice.
Use a motorized blender to mix the two liquids.
Consume it immediately.
Drink this early in the morning on an empty stomach for 3 or 4 days to get relief from constipation with castor oil.
Method 3: Castor Oil with Milk
Another way to use castor oil for constipation is by mixing it with low-fat milk. The lactic acid in milk helps soothe your gastrointestinal tract. The best time to drink it is at bedtime, as the milk will also ensure a good night’s sleep.
Caution: If you are lactose intolerant, the milk can exacerbate your condition. You can use soy milk instead. (7)
Things you’ll need:
Castor oil (laxative) – 1 teaspoon
Low-fat milk (soothes digestive tract) – 1 cup
Single-Step Treatment: Mix castor oil in milk & drink it before going to bed
Add 1 teaspoon of castor oil to 1 cup of warm low-fat milk.
Blend the two well using a motorized hand blender.
Consume this drink before going off to sleep.
One dose should be enough to do the job. You should pass a normal stool the next morning. For more chronic cases, continue taking it once daily for 4 to 6 days until you get relief.
Method 4: Castor Oil Packs
For those who cannot stand the awful smell and taste of castor oil, you can use castor oil packs to get relief from constipation. Although a highly viscous liquid, castor oil easily absorbs through the skin. It can help immensely in improving your digestion, detoxing your colon and thus relieving constipation. Also, it is helpful in shrinking uterine fibroids and for treating PCOS.
According to a 2011 study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practices, castor oil packs used on elderly patients helped ease the symptoms of constipation. (8)
Caution: Consult your doctor before using castor oil topically, especially if you have any other medical condition or if you are pregnant.
Single-Step Treatment: Place a castor oil pack on your abdomen at night for 3 days
Pour 1 cup of castor oil into a bowl.
Fold a dishcloth or kitchen dishcloth into quarters, and let it soak in the castor oil for at least 30 minutes, until it is fully saturated.
Spread out an old bedsheet or towel on your bed to prevent oil stains.
Lie down on your back and unfold the soaked cloth over your abdomen.
Place plastic wrap on top of the cloth, then place a heating pad over it.
Relax and let the oil absorb into your skin for 1 to 1½ hours.
Remove the cloth and place it in a ziplock bag for the next use.
Wipe the excess oil off your skin with a spare towel. You can also wash it off with some warm water and baking soda.
Use the castor oil pack once daily at night for 3 days, then discontinue for 4 days. Repeat if you don’t get relief after the first 7 days.
Method 5: Castor Oil Massage for Infants
Castor oil is safe to use topically to deak with constipation in infants. Massaging their abdomen with a few drops of warm castor oil is enough to induce a bowel movement. (9)
Single-Step Treatment: Massage your baby’s abdomen with warm castor oil twice weekly
Warm up 1 tablespoon of castor oil by microwaving it for 30 seconds. The oil should be comfortable to the touch.
Rub some oil between your palms, and massage it on your baby’s abdomen using clockwise circular motions. Make sure that the oil does not get in their eyes, mouth or genital area.
Massage some oil on your baby’s thighs and knees as well, then push their knees toward their stomach.
Continue massaging for 10 to 15 minutes, then wipe off the excess oil with a soft cloth.
Do this twice every week to use castor oil for constipation in infants.
Tips for using castor oil for constipation
When mixing castor oil in fruit juice, include some pulp of the fruit for higher fiber content.
Digestive Diseases Statistics for the United States. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/digestive-diseases. Published November 1, 2014.
Mojgan F, Nazila B, Mohammad D. Chronic constipation: A review of literature: Medicine. Medicine. https://journals.lww.com/md-journal/Fulltext/2018/05180/Chronic_constipation__A_review_of_literature.6.aspx. Published May 2018.
Ricinoleic Acid. ScienceDirect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/ricinoleic-acid. Published 2015.
Hsieh C. Treatment of Constipation in Older Adults. American Family Physician. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/1201/p2277.html. Published December 1, 2005.
Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Glyceryl Ricinoleate, Glyceryl Ricinoleate SE, Ricinoleic Acid, Potassium Ricinoleate, Sodium Ricinoleate, Zinc Ricinoleate, Cetyl Ricinoleate, Ethyl Ricinoleate, Glycol Ricinoleate, Isopropyl Ricinoleate, Methyl Ricinoleate, and Octyldodecyl Ricinoleate1. International Journal of Toxicology. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10915810701663150. Published May 1, 2007.
Bae SH. Diets for Constipation. Pediatric, Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4291444/. Published December 31, 2014.
Goodness of Milk. Gastrointestinal Society. https://www.badgut.org/information-centre/health-nutrition/the-goodness-of-milk/. Published 2008.
Arslan GG, Eşer I. An examination of the effect of castor oil packs on constipation in the elderly. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21168117. Published February 2011.
Nimrouzi M, Sadeghpour O, Imanieh MH. Remedies for Children Constipation in Medieval Persia. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260950022. Published December 15, 2013.