Getting rid of waste is one of the body's important functions. But when constipation occurs, this function is halted. Constipation is a condition that occurs when a person has difficulty passing stools.
Castor oil is a type of vegetable oil that comes from the beans of the castor plant. The oil is pale yellow in color and available at most pharmacies and health food stores. Castor oil is sometimes used in the making of soaps, waxes and polishes, painting, plastics, and medicines.
Castor oil is known as a stimulant laxative. When a person drinks the oil, it stimulates the small intestine to start moving more. This increased motion will make stool start to move through the intestine so it can be eliminated.
People can usually buy castor oil for a low price, making it an attractive alternative to some higher-priced medications.
However, stimulant laxatives are considered some of the harsher laxatives, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. This is because they cause the intestines to sometimes move, squeeze, and contract harder than they normally would.
For this reason, castor oil should only be used as an occasional constipation reliever. People may want to try using aids that soften the stool instead of laxatives first, such as olive oil.
In addition to its use in relieving constipation, castor oil is also used as a medication that can make people vomit. For this reason, it should be taken with caution. A person could take it for constipation and become nauseous.