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Castor Oil - The Botanical

Category: Castor Oil Exposé
Posted: 2007-04-17 07:19

In my article Palma Christi - Castor Oil 101 I began the journey of sharing this noble oil with you. As an aside, let me introduce the botanical Ricinus Communis.

The Castor Oil plant is a native of India, where it bears several ancient Sanskrit names, the most ancient and most usual being Eranda, which has passed into several other Indian languages.

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It is very variable in habit and appearance, the known varieties being very numerous, and having mostly been described as species. In the tropical latitudes most favourable to its growth, it becomes a tree 30 to 40 feet high; in the Azores and the warmer Mediterranean countries - Algeria, Egypt, Greece and the Riviera - it is of more slender growth, attaining an average height of only 10 to 15 feet, and farther north in France, and in this country, where it is cultivated as an ornamental plant on account of its large and beautiful foliage, it is merely a shrubby branched annual herb, rarely more than 4 to 5 feet high, with thick, hollow, herbaceous stems, which are cylindrical, smooth and shiny, with a purplish bloom in the upper part.

The handsome leaves are placed alternately on the stem, on long, curved, purplish foot-stalks, with drooping blades, generally 6 to 8 inches across, sometimes still larger, palmately cut for three fourths of their depth into seven to eleven lance-shaped, pointed, coarsely toothed segments. When fully expanded, they are of a blue-green colour, paler beneath and smooth; when young, they are red and shining.

The fruit is a blunt, greenish, deeply-grooved capsule less than an inch long, covered with soft, yielding prickles in each of which a seed is developed. The seeds of the different cultivated varieties differ much in size and in external markings but average seeds are of an oval, laterally compressed form. The smaller, annual varieties yield small seeds- the tree forms, large seeds. They have a shining, marble-grey and brown, thick, leathery outer coat, within which is a thin, dark-coloured, brittle coat. A large, distinct, leafy embryo lies in the middle of a dense, oily tissue (endosperm).

It was known to Herodotus, who calls it Kiki, and states that it furnishes an oil much used by the Egyptians, in whose ancient tombs seeds of Ricinus are met with. At the period when Herodotus wrote (the fourth century B.C.), it would appear to have been already introduced into Greece, where it is cultivated to the present day under the same ancient name.

We read of it being employed medicinally in Europe during the early Middle Ages: it is recorded that it was cultivated by Albertus Magnus, Bishop of Ratisbon, in the middle of the thirteenth century, but later it fell into disuse, though Gerard (1597) was familiar with it under the name of Ricinus or Kik: the oil, he says, is called Oleum cicinum and used externally in skin diseases.

Plants are readily grown from seed, which should be sown on a hot bed early in March. When the plants come up, each should be planted in a separate small pot, filled with light soil and plunged into a fresh hot bed. The young plants are kept under glass till early in June, when they are hardened and put out.

In India, the oil is obtained from the seeds by shelling and crushing the seed between rollers. The crushed mass is then placed in hempen cloths and pressed in a screw or hydraulic press. The oil which exudes is mixed with water and heated till the water boils and the mucilaginous matter in the oil separates as a scum. It is next strained, then bleached in the sunlight and stored for exportation.

In France, the oil is obtained by macerating the bruised seeds in alcohol, but the process is expensive and the product inferior.

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Palma Christi - Castor Oil 101

Category: Castor Oil Exposé
Posted: 2007-04-04 15:40

Castor oil is a unique substance with an ancient history. Folk healers the world over have used it to treat a wide variety of conditions.

The healing attributed to it has been so complete and miraculous that people in the Middle Ages dubbed castor oil
" Palma Christi " - the "Palm of Christ". The treatments using castor oil offered such relief that the newly-healed felt to have received an annointing at the hand of Christ. Also the over-sized leaf resembles that of a large hand, the palm of a large hand to be more precise, completing the imagery.

With the advances in modern science and medicine, the western world left natural/traditional remedies in favour of the newer, "trusted", and safe prescriptions neatly packaged for them. I certainly am not attacking "drugs" (as we commonly refer to them) but do, indeed, believe the traditional remedy has its place in today's modern world.

Palma Christi castor oil's effectiveness is probably due in part to its unusual chemical composition—a triglyceride of fatty acids with almost 90 percent of that fatty acid content consisting of ricinoleic acid. To my knowledge (compiled from much research), ricinoleic acid is not found in any other substance, and the high concentration of this unusual, unsaturated fatty acid is thought to be responsible for castor oil's remarkable healing abilities.

Ricinoleic acid is effective in preventing the growth of numerous species of viruses, bacteria, yeasts, and molds. It is successful as a topical treatment for ringworm, keratoses, skin inflammation, abrasions, fungal-infected finger- and toenails, acne, and chronic pruritus (itching). Generally, for these conditions the affected area is wrapped each night in a castor oil-soaked cloth (called a "pack"). For persistent infections, a 10- to 20-minute pre-soak in Epsom salts will generally speed healing.

This is quite the find! I can't wait to share with you all the wonderful ways Palma Christi castor oil can bring wellbeing to your life from the Outside IN!
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