6 Ways To Cure Constipation Using Castor Oil

The right dose of this natural laxative will help improve your bowel movements easily.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Emily Gannaway, ND, MSOM Dr. Emily Gannaway Dr. Emily GannawayND, MSOM linkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , Health & Wellness Writer Shaheen Naser Health & Wellness Writer Experience: 3 years
Edited by , Senior Editor Arshiya Syeda Senior Editor Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , Health & Wellness Writer Moksha Gandhi Health & Wellness Writer Experience: 2 years
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You’re probably well aware of the advantages castor oil offers for skin and hair but have you considered its therapeutic potential? Castor oil provides numerous health benefits, and unless you are pregnant, you can even relieve constipation using castor oil. Yes, you heard that right.

Constipation can be loosely defined as having less than three bowel motions in one week. And although there are a variety of treatments available, castor oil is a natural choice that is highly effective in getting things moving smoothly again.

Continue reading to learn about the causes of constipation, how castor oil can assist with constipation, and the numerous ways it can be used to treat it.

Causes Of Constipation

Constipation can have several causes. These include the following (1):

1. Dietary Factors: Intake of foods low in fiber like processed foods and high-fat meats may cause constipation.
2. Dehydration: Inadequate consumption of water can harden stool and lead to constipation.
3. Sedentary Lifestyle: Lack of physical activity may affect metabolism and the digestive system and often lead to constipation.
4. Certain Medications: Some medications like pain relievers, antidepressants, and iron supplements may cause adverse effects, including constipation.
5. Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and hypothyroidism can affect bowel movements and lead to constipation.
Treating constipation is generally simple. Among the many remedies, castor oil seems to be one of the most effective. But how does it work? Learn about it in the next section.

How Does Castor Oil Work For Constipation?

When you have irregular bowel movements, and your stool becomes too hard to pass, it most certainly means that you are constipated. It is now that the role of castor oil comes into play. Castor oil, derived from castor beans (Ricinus communis), contains a fatty acid called ricinoleic acid that exhibits laxative properties.

Let us now take a deeper look at the factors that make castor oil an effective treatment for constipation:

  • Being a stimulant laxative, the ricinoleic acid in castor oil binds to the receptors on the muscles of your intestinal walls. This binding leads to contractions of your intestinal walls by gastrointestinal peristalsis, thereby enabling easy elimination of waste and promoting colon cleanse without using enema injections or purgative medicines. It has some effect on stimulating the uterus muscles as well. While this isn’t of much significance outside of pregnancy, it is if you are pregnant. So much so that a small shot of castor oil was historically used to help bring on labor when it was taking a woman a concerningly long time to mount functional uterine contractionsi  XThe tightening of smooth uterine muscle fibers that occurs in women during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and labor. .
  • This action of ricinoleic acid also helps in softening your feces and cleansing your intestines.
  • Using castor oil can reduce the strain, abdominal pain, bloating, and discomfort that often accompanies constipation.
  • Additionally, castor oil lubricates your bowels without absorbing any of the moisture from your intestinal walls.

If these reasons aren’t enough for you to start using castor oil for constipation, here’s some more information.

Multiple studies conducted by various researchers have concluded that castor oil can have remarkable benefits on constipation. They also observed that the use of castor oil resulted in a significant decrease in the strain and promoted the feeling of complete evacuation following a bowel movement (2).

A Nigerian health blogger shares her experience of beginning with liquid paraffin for constipation, finding no comfort, and then switching to castor oil. She recounts, “I decided to check out castor oil. I took 2 ½ tablespoons and 2 hours later, despite the presence of an anal fissure I was able to poo easily. Even as I am writing this post I am getting some serious bowel movements and I am more than happy to visit the toilet again to do justice (i).” She also adds that if one is experiencing anal fissures alongside constipation, a convenient remedy is to rub castor oil on the affected area to alleviate associated pain and promote healing.

For Natalie, a lifestyle blogger, the discovery of castor oil’s potency as a laxative was accidental. She had wanted to try a natural detox that involved ingesting a spoonful of the oil. She felt bloated and waited for an hour, but nothing else happened at which point she took another spoonful of castor oil. “I had several bathroom visits after about an hour and 45 minutes (45 mins after the 2nd dose of castor oil). The first one was fine and felt good to relieve that bloated feeling I had. After about the 2nd or 3rd bathroom visit it turned into the runs. This went on for about 3 hours and was not very fun at all. It then stopped for about 3 hours at which point I had my final bathroom visit and I felt much better (ii),” she says. Having learned her lesson, she adds that she might try the cleanse again but she would either scrap out castor oil entirely or never exceed a teaspoon at one go.

protip_icon Did You Know?
Eating a fiber-rich diet and drinking more fluids may help make your stool softer. This, in turn, helps prevent constipation

Now that you have a legit reason to give castor oil a try, let’s look at the different ways in which it can be used to relieve this condition.

Ways To Use Castor Oil To Treat Constipation Naturally

  1. Castor Oil
  2. Castor Oil And Orange Juice
  3. Castor Oil And Lemon Juice
  4. Castor Oil With Coconut Milk
  5. Castor Oil And Heating Pad
  6. Castor Oil Massage (For Babies)

How To Use Castor Oil For Constipation

1. Castor Oil

How to use castor oil for constipation
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

1 tablespoon of castor oil

What You Have To Do

Rub some castor oil on your belly, concentrating more around your belly button.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this at least twice daily.

Why This Works

Castor oil can help to soften and break down the fecal matter through the skin and the gut with its laxative properties.  Additionally, it enhances muscle contractions that can make defecation easy (3).

2. Castor Oil And Orange Juice

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Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
What You Have To Do
  1. Add castor oil to a cup of orange juice and mix well.
  2. Consume this mixture before the oil settles down.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily.

Why This Works

The high fiber content of orange juice helps to bulk up the stool, and the laxative effects of castor oil make it easy to pass out of the body, thus relieving constipation (4).

3. Castor Oil And Lemon Juice

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Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of castor oil
  • 1 cup of lemon juice
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix about a tablespoon of castor oil with a cup of lemon juice.
  2. Consume this before the oil settles down.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily.

Why This Works

The acidic nature of lemons, along with the natural lubricant properties of water, can help to ease your bowel movements (5), (6).

4. Castor Oil With Coconut Milk

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Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of castor oil
  • 1 glass of warm coconut milk
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of castor oil to a glass of coconut milk.
  2. Consume this before the oil starts to settle down.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once every night.

Why This Works

The stimulating properties of castor oil and the soothing and relieving effects of coconut milk work in tandem to relieve constipation and its symptoms.

Caution

If you are lactose intolerant, it is recommended that you use any of the other remedies listed in this article to get rid of constipation.

5. Castor Oil And Heating Pad

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Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of castor oil
  • A heating pad
What You Have To Do
  1. Massage some castor oil on your stomach, concentrating on the area around the belly button.
  2. Place a heating pad on top of your belly.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily.

Why This Works

Castor oil, when used in combination with a heating pad, can enhance healthy digestion and promote circulation in the affected area. This can soften the fecal impactioni  XThe condition in which a lump of hardened stool gets stuck in the lower colon or rectum in people with chronic constipation. , allowing your stool to pass easily (7).

protip_icon Quick Tip
Castor oil is not suitable for everyone. People with symptoms of appendicitisi  XA condition in which the appendix (a functionless pouch at the end of the large intestine) develops a pus-filled, painful inflammation. , vomiting, and rectal bleeding should avoid taking castor oil to treat constipation.

6. Castor Oil Massage (For Babies)

Castor oil massage for babies
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

3 to 4 drops of 100% organic castor oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Take a few drops of castor oil and warm it.
  2. Rub the warmed castor oil between your palms and massage it in a clockwise motion around your infant’s stomach.
  3. Take a little more oil and massage it onto your infant’s knees and thighs.
  4. Gently push the legs of your infant towards his abdomen.
  5. Continue doing this for 10 to 15 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this twice a week.

Why This Works

Castor oil, when used in moderate amounts externally, is beneficial for treating constipation in your baby. A simple massage with castor oil can stimulate and bring regularity in bowel movements in your child (8).

Caution

Use only 100% organic castor oil for infants and only use it externally in children. Also, make sure that the oil does not come in contact with your child’s anal/genital areas, eyes, and lips.

Infographic: 5 Ways To Use Castor Oil For Constipation

Constipation can give a hard time to adults and babies alike. It can affect the overall quality of life and create a lingering sense of uneasiness all the time. However, you can combat mild constipation at home with easily available ingredients, such as castor oil, honey, and orange juice. Check out the infographic below to learn more about the different ways you can use castor oil for constipation.

5 ways to use castor oil for constipation (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Less than three bowel movements in a week can be indicative of constipation. As irregular or infrequent bowel motions can have a significant impact on health, it is important to get the digestive system on track. Relieving constipation using castor oil is a tried and tested natural remedy that does work. Ricinoleic acid, a fatty acid present in castor oil, works as an effective laxative and helps stimulate intestinal contractions that soften the stool and enable it to pass smoothly. Increase water intake while ingesting castor oil to promote hydration. You can drink castor oil with various juices as discussed here or use it to massage your belly. Avoid castor oil if you are pregnant, as it may also lead to uterine contractions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is castor oil good for constipation in toddlers?

Yes, it is a great topical treatment. The application of castor oil to the skin can help in treating constipation in toddlers.

How long does castor oil take to treat constipation?

Castor oil will start showing results in two to six hours.

Can a pregnant woman drink castor oil for constipation?

Pregnant women must avoid taking castor oil for constipation as it might stimulate uterus contractions and even lead to a miscarriage.

Should I drink water after taking castor oil?

Yes, you should drink a glass of water after consuming castor oil since it can be dehydrating.

Is castor oil toxic?

The pulp of castor beans contains the toxin ricin which may cause severe gastroenteritis with other serious health complications (9). However, in the process of making castor oil, the pulp is separated from the oil, making castor oil safe for consumption.

Does castor oil give you diarrhea?

Small quantities of castor oil are considered safe for consumption. However, large and unregulated doses can result in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (10).

What is the best time to take castor oil?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that castor oil may cause bowel movement between 2 to 6 hours. You can ideally take it before breakfast to help relieve constipation.

Key Takeaways

  • Castor oil increases the amount of moisture content in the large intestine, which makes the stool softer and helps it pass out easily.
  • It takes nearly 6 to 8 hours for castor oil to work efficiently on constipation.
  • Add 1 to 2 spoons full of castor oil to a glass of water. You can also take it with juice if the taste bothers you much.
constipation using castor oil

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team


Take castor oil to help with digestion and relieve constipation. Dive into this captivating video to learn how to use it safely and effectively to improve your digestive health.

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Constipation
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513291/
  2. Castor oil induces laxation and uterus contraction via ricinoleic acid activating prostaglandin EP3 receptors
    https://www.pnas.org/doi/abs/10.1073/pnas.1201627109
  3. An examination of the effect of castor oil packs on constipation in the elderly
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21168117/
  4. [Orange juice residues as dietary fiber source for foods]
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17992984/
  5. Quantitative Assessment of Citric Acid in Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, and Commercially-Available Fruit Juice Products
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2637791/
  6. Water supplementation enhances the effect of high-fiber diet on stool frequency and laxative consumption in adult patients with functional constipation
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9684123/
  7. Medical Treatment of Constipation
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2780140/
  8. Constipation in Children and Young People: Diagnosis and Management of Idiopathic Childhood Constipation in Primary and Secondary Care
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK65356/
  9. A Case of Castor Bean Poisoning
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3087745/
  10. A Comparison of the Efficacy, Adverse Effects, and Patient Compliance of the Sena-Graph®Syrup and Castor Oil Regimens for Bowel Preparation
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3862068/
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