Ricinus. Ricinus communis.

Botanical name: 

Synonym—Castor Oil.

Part Employed—A fixed oil from the beans of the Ricinus Communis.

The fixed oil, ricinoleic or ricinic acid, ricinolein, palmitin, starch, mucilage, sugar.
In the preparation of castor oil the seeds are crushed, kiln-dried, and subjected to a powerful pressure to remove the oil, which is heated in water to remove albuminous matters and drawn off into barrels.
Cold-pressed castor oil, Oleum Ricini, is viscid, nearly or quite transparent, with a mawkish odor and an offensive taste. Dose, from one to eight drams.

Administration—The taste of castor oil is disgusting to many and unpalatable to all. It is partially disguised when the dose is added to a teacupful of hot milk and well stirred. Hot lemonade or hot coffee disguises its taste to a certain extent. Wine, ale and beer are suggested, probably because of a love for such auxiliaries.

Therapy—As a cathartic in domestic practice this agent has long taken first rank. Children are susceptible to its action. An inunction of the oil over the abdomen is usually sufficient to produce a full laxative effect in babes. It may be continued from day to day for the cure of chronic constipation in young children. A kneading or rubbing of the bowels will stimulate peristaltic action and increase the influence of the oil.

When nervous irritation in children occurs with fever, from undigested food or irritating substances in the stomach or bowels, a dose of castor oil sufficient to produce free evacuation without pain may given at once. Its action will usually remove the irritating causes, and the fever and nerve irritation will quickly subside. Diarrheas induced from such causes are at once controlled after its operation. It has a secondary action like rhubarb, and constipation usually follows its use or a day or two.

In the treatment of dysentery it is good practice to thoroughly evacuate the bowels with castor oil and to follow it with full doses of sweet oil. In infants the sweet oil alone may be sufficient. If the oil is administered early in the case and followed with the suggested remedies the disease often abates at once.

It seems in itself to exercise a mild sedative effect, not only that it quiets distress in the bowels and removes irritating substances but it promotes quiet and sleep.

It is used in a few cases after surgical operations, after labor on the second or third day, and after taking vermifuges, and whenever a simple, prompt agent is needed to evacuate the primae viae.

The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.