Monday, June 7, 2010

Castor oil moves through

I love getting questions which make me head to the textbooks and PubMed [], the on-line search engine for science papers. Steph’s Mum and Dad have a German and Italian background respectively and they both got a dose of castor oil from their parents when they were kids. Steph wants to know what is going on, or through, with castor oil.

This is what I found: the main fat in castor oil is a monounsaturated fat called ricinoleic acid. This appears to form a soap called sodium ricinoleate in the intestines, acting like a detergent that makes your waste slip through. Castor oil is used by the cosmetic industry too as it can be absorbed into the skin.

Castor oil is not promoted as a laxative these days; we prefer people to eat their fruit, veg and wholegrain cereals for a more natural laxative effect. Or just check the direction of your superannuation nest egg of late – that will have a similar effect to castor oil.

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