Ricinus communis plant is also called the castor oil plant . It is a fast growing evergreen herbaceous and semi woody large shrub that is native to mid -east Africa and northeast Africa.It’ s also cultivated here in Nigeria. It has vast uses ranging from its antitusive property, relieve of severe constipation, expulsion of worm infestation, treatment of skin disorders and management of arthritis. As effective as this castor oil plant derivatives, it must be taken in appropriate prescribed doses.
kingdom : Plantae
Order : Malphighiales
Family : Euphorbiacaeae
BOTANICAL NAME: Ricinus communis Linn.
LOCAL NAMES :
IGBO : Ogiri igbo.
HAUSA: Cika_ gidaa
ENGLISH NAME : Castor oil plant, castor bean.
Castor oil plant has different parts viz the roots, leaf, seed and oil which potentate various medicinal uses traditionally.
1. The root of castor oil plant is used for the treatment of nervous diseases and rheumatism.
2. The oil of castor plant is used as a strong laxative, diuretic and for treatment of severe constipation.
3. The oil of castor plant is used to relieve boils and skin related diseases
4. The oil of castor plant is usually massage on the breasts of lactating mothers to increase milk let out (milk flow).
5. The seed of castor oil plant is used for birth control.
6. The leaf of the castor plant is used to treat severe cough.
7. The oil of castor plant is used to improve hair growth.
8. The leaf of castor plant is used to treat delayed, painful or obstructed menstruation
9. The seed of castor plant is a natural contraceptive
10 . The oil of the castor plant has anti bacterial properties
The seed of the castor plant is highly toxic due to its ricin content. Thus for purification of these seeds to reduce its toxicity, it is fermented in coconut water for 3 hours then they are washed and dried for use. It’s fatal dose is usually between 5- 10 seeds daily.
PHARMACOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF THE CASTOR PLANT
1. The ricin content in the castor seed causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures and hypotension.
2. The oleic acid and linoleic acid content of the castor plant prevents inflammation and treats rheumatism.
3. The ricinoleic acid content help treat delayed, painful and obstructive menstruation.
4. Castor oil leaf acts as galactogogues to stimulate milk secretion.
5. Its fatty acid oils help to increase milk quantity in breast feeding mothers.
6. The methanolic extract of castor plant contains steroids, flavonoids and alkaloids that confers an antinocieptive activity (treatment for inflammation and management of pain)
7. The ethanolic root extract containing saponine confers its anti asthmatic property
8. The ethanolic extract of the leaves of the castor plant contains flavonoids that have hepato-protective activity.
9. The oleic fatty oils in the castor oil boost immune system by increasing the production of lymphocytes that improves circulatory and digestive systems.
From the discourse above it is clearly evident that castor oil plant confers potential health benefits when used at appropriately prescribed doses.
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