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The average people don’t like castor oil’s taste, but it does have healthy benefits that make it worth consuming at times. One of these is relieving constipation. Although castor oil isn’t as commonly used as it is used to be, using a castor oil as laxative is a very effective treatment for constipation, as long as you can tolerate the side effects and taste. Always consult your pharmacist or doctor before resorting to this remedy.
Castor oil is extracted from seeds of a plant known as castor. Castor oil has actually been used since Ancient Egypt but its laxative uses have only been explored recently.
According to research, this oil works as a laxative due to its ricinoleic acid which binds to the cellular receptors EP4 and EP3. These are prostaglandin receptors and are involved in biological functions related to kidney reabsorption, digestion, the nervous system, and uterine contraction.
When you use castor oil, the molecules of ricinoleic acid connect with your prostaglandin receptors within the intestine’s mucous membranes, making your digestive system active. Specifically, your colon walls become stimulated, which moves fecal matter through your bowel outside of the body, getting rid of constipation.
Additionally, castor oil can prevent the intestines from absorbing fluid. This means that the bowel isn’t able to hold back additional moisture, making it easy for the stools to get out the anal canal. Essentially, the castor oil also lubricates the fecal matter, making it pass through your intestines and bowels easily.
Before you take a castor oil laxative of any brand, read the product packaging carefully and make sure that your doctor says it is safe to use. This varies from person to person and can depend on your medications and other illnesses.
You will notice that the dosage for castor oil depends on the constipation severity and your age. Typically, adults should have a teaspoon once every day while their stomach is empty. Children should only have half a teaspoon. Never take castor oil for over seven days unless your doctor says to do so. This puts you at risk of serious side effects. To get the best results quickly, take the oil at the same time daily.
Castor oil can be found as a capsule or liquid. The liquid is known for its foul taste, so many people like to dilute it with juice. Mixing it with ginger, prune, orange, or cranberry juice will not affect its laxative properties. You should begin noticing laxative results within four or six hours. If you don’t notice anything within seven days, stop taking it and talk to your doctor.
Those who are pregnant should never use castor oil. Additionally, women who are menstruating or breastfeeding should not use it. Castor oil laxative also shouldn’t be used if you:
You should also never take castor oil along with a diuretic unless you are being supervised by your doctor. Taking this combination can lead to electrolyte imbalances, specifically related to potassium.
Side Effects of Castor Oil
Most people use castor oil as laxative without any problems. That being said, you should be prepared for the possibility of side effects. In most cases, they will be harmless and disappear quickly, but some people experience more severe side effects.
The minor side effects include:
They typically don’t last long. If they do, contact your doctor.
Some more serious side effects can include:
If you have an allergic reaction, you will notice itching or a rash along a large area of the body. Any of these symptoms indicate that you should stop taking castor oil and visit your doctor immediately.
While castor oil works, it is really a temporary solution. You will need to identify what is causing your constipation and work to stop it. Without doing so, the constipation will likely return, possibly even becoming chronic. It is also likely that the greater dependence you place on laxatives, your constipation will become worse. Instead, try the following methods to prevent constipation.
1. Move More Often
When you sit a lot, it becomes harder for waste to move within the intestines. Those with a desk job should be sure to take breaks to walk every hour. Try doing regular cardio exercise or get a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps each day.
2. Get Enough Fiber
Eating more insoluble fiber can also prevent constipation. Sources of insoluble fiber include vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and whole grains. Insoluble fiber works by adding bulk to the stool, helping it move throughout the intestines. You should get 25 or 30 grams daily.
3. Drink Sufficient Water
If your body becomes dehydrated, your colon will dehydrate as well. Because of this, preventing constipation involves drinking lots of water along with other non-sugary beverages during the day. If you don’t like water, try infusing fruit in it or drinking decaffeinated tea.
4. Reduce Stress
Certain people experience side effects of stress in their gut as constipation. You can relieve and manage stress via walking, psychotherapy, yoga, and meditation. If your stress ever feels unmanageable, consult your doctor.
5. Look at Your Medications
If you are constipated, ask your doctor if any of medications may be causing it. Chronic constipation is actually a common side effect of certain medications, including blood pressure drugs, sedatives, and opioids. Your doctor may be able to suggest an alternative medication that will not lead to constipation.