How Effective Is Castor Oil as a Laxative?

Marlene de Wilde
Marlene de Wilde
Using laxatives on a regular basis may cause the intestinal tract and small bowel to become stagnant.
Using laxatives on a regular basis may cause the intestinal tract and small bowel to become stagnant.

The use of castor oil as a laxative has a long history going back thousands of years. It is still used today despite the plethora of more modern laxatives on the market, as it is known to be very effective. Castor oil is a stimulant laxative which means it increases the movement in the intestines which aids in the removal of the stool. There are side effects related mostly to castor oil overdose so the dosage must be carefully measured.

Castor oil can cause uterine contractions.
Castor oil can cause uterine contractions.

There are several different types of laxatives which work in different ways. Some are bulk-forming, others work by softening the stool by drawing water from body tissue. Lubricants coat the bowel and stool with a waterproof film which then makes the passing of waste easier. Furthermore, it cleanses the colon and intestines, making it useful as a laxative before surgery or a bowel examination.

Castor oil may be used to induce labor in some cases.
Castor oil may be used to induce labor in some cases.

When used in proper dosages and within a certain time frame, castor oil is considered a safe and effective laxative. It is often used as a self-treatment but should always be used carefully and by following the directions. Using castor oil as a laxative over too long a period of time may lead to side effects such as fluid and electrolyte loss which if chronic, could lead to kidney problems. It is not advisable to use a castor oil laxative for more than seven to ten days. If too much is taken, then side effects include abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

Side effects of castor oil may include abdominal pain.
Side effects of castor oil may include abdominal pain.

Pregnant women who are not ready to give birth are advised against using castor oil as a laxative as it can cause uterine contractions. It may actually be used to induce labor in some cases. Some people prefer to take castor oil before they go to sleep at night, while others prefer to take it early in the morning as the laxative effect is not always predictable. It may take a few hours to to a day or two be effective. It can be taken by itself, but because of its bitter taste, it can also be mixed with honey or juice. Using castor oil as a laxative is more effective when taken on an empty stomach which is another reason why many people prefer to take it in the morning.

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    • Using laxatives on a regular basis may cause the intestinal tract and small bowel to become stagnant.
      By: Africa Studio
      Using laxatives on a regular basis may cause the intestinal tract and small bowel to become stagnant.
    • Castor oil can cause uterine contractions.
      By: Alliance
      Castor oil can cause uterine contractions.
    • Castor oil may be used to induce labor in some cases.
      By: Tyler Olson
      Castor oil may be used to induce labor in some cases.
    • Side effects of castor oil may include abdominal pain.
      By: ruigsantos
      Side effects of castor oil may include abdominal pain.
    • Prolonged use of laxatives may lead to unintentional weight loss.
      By: Lsantilli
      Prolonged use of laxatives may lead to unintentional weight loss.
    • Some people prefer to take castor oil before they go to sleep at night.
      By: Valua Vitaly
      Some people prefer to take castor oil before they go to sleep at night.
    • Pregnant women who are not ready to give birth are advised against using castor oil.
      By: Dana Heinemann
      Pregnant women who are not ready to give birth are advised against using castor oil.