Consumers may find castor oil in stores such as Walmart, the Vitamin Shoppe and Walgreens. Castor oil is obtained by pressing the seeds of the castor oil plant.
Castor oil is a triglyceride made up of fatty acids, most of which consists of ricinoleic acid. This composition is, in part, what makes castor oil so effective in combating a number of different health issues. Touted as a miracle cure for many years, mothers gave their children a spoonful of castor oil at the first sniffle or cough. Even in today's society, there are a number of ailments for which this concoction is used.
A common old wives tale is to take castor oil to induce labor. While it has not been proven definitively, it is not recommended by the medical community for this use. It is, however, popular to use it when one is suffering from constipation. A small dose in the evening usually helps the digestive system move things along by morning. There is also a multitude of topical uses for castor oil. When applied to the hair, for example, it helps with split ends and rejuvenates dry, damaged hair. It is also effective as a topical treatment for ringworm, abrasions, acne and chronic itching.