Does Castor Oil Burn Fat? According to a Dietitian

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: January 17, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Dr. Kristy Dayanan, BS, MD
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Castor oil was handed down for generations for various issues like ear aches or getting rid of stubborn fat.

Instead of dropping money on another supplement, I was curious about castor oil and its apparent weight-loss properties.

I set out to confirm or debunk this home remedy. I drank it, researched it, and spoke with our dietician to see if it really could aid in weight loss.

Here’s what I found.

Quick Summary

  • There isn't much evidence to support that castor oil helps burn fat.
  • Castor oil is extracted from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant and is pale yellow.
  • Castor oil's primary component, ricinoleic acid, is responsible for its laxative effects, but no evidence suggests it aids in weight loss directly or indirectly.
  • I believe that given the lack of evidence supporting castor oil for fat burning, focusing on diet and exercise is a more reliable approach to weight loss.

Can You Burn Fat With Castor Oil?

Castor oil in a glass container

It is unlikely you burn fat with castor oil, but let’s look at what it is and why many people swear by its fat-burning and weight-loss effects.

In my own experience, using castor oil didn't lead to any noticeable reduction in belly fat. However, its moisturizing properties worked wonders, leaving my skin hydrated and noticeably firmer.

Once your diet and exercise are in order, boost your hard work and shred fat with an all-natural fat burner.

What is Castor Oil?

Castor oil (Ricinus oil) is a pale yellow oil obtained from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant, also known as the castor plant, native to Africa [1].

The seeds, also called castor beans, contain ricin, a lethal substance, but castor oil does not.

The National Library of Medicine explains that Castor oil has been widely used in traditional medicine to treat abdominal disorders, arthritis, sciatica, chronic headache, constipation, and insomnia [2].

MedicalNewsToday explains that Castor oil remains a popular choice to treat constipation, skin dryness, and hair growth [3].

Castor oil is rich in ricinoleic acid, a good triglyceride fatty acid responsible for the laxative effects.

Many believe castor oil is effective for weight loss because of this fatty acid, but no evidence suggests it has a direct or indirect ability to do this.

What Does Castor Oil Do in the Body?

Castor oil acts as a stimulant laxative, which may lead some to believe it aids in weight loss.

A specialized book from the National Library inquires that when you take castor oil orally, it gets broken down in the small intestine, releasing ricinoleic acid, which is then absorbed by the intestine, stimulating the muscles to move material through the intestines, helping clear the bowels [4].

“The temporary weight loss that people may experience from taking laxatives is actually due to water loss. Losing water is not the same as losing body fat.”

-Stacy Sampson, D.O

How To Use Castor Oil?

A close up shot of castor oil on a table

There are two main uses for castor oil based on its intended benefits:

Consume Castor Oil

The accepted daily dose is up to 0.32 mg per pound (0.7 mg per kg) of body weight [5]. Add castor oil to a flavored beverage like a soft drink, fruit juice, or milk to make it more palatable.

According to a WebMD report, the most common reason to consume castor oil is to alleviate constipation, and its laxative effects are proven to work [6].

Additionally, research from the National Library of Medicine supports oral supplementation for anti-inflammatory effects, which may be a successful treatment for arthritis [7].

Not much evidence supports that consuming castor oil for weight loss is effective.


Rub Castor Oil On Your Skin

Castor oil on a glass bowl

Topical use is widespread for moisturizing skin, reducing wrinkles, and improving skin quality.

There isn’t research that supports this, but many believe because coconut oil and avocado oil have these effects, castor oil must, too [8].

Research does support the application of Ricinus oil to treat dry scalp and hair loss, stimulate hair growth and increase hair luster [9].

Many people use castor oil packs made by soaking wool or cloth in the oil, which you can apply to specific skin areas. The fabric should be a dense material that can hold a lot of liquid.

These packs, used externally, may help with joint pain, constipation, skin inflammation, sunburns, bug bites, and allergic reactions [10].

Related articles:

Anti-inflammatory Effects

Castor oil has anti-inflammatory properties beneficial for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis. Reduced inflammation can improve mobility, potentially influencing athletic performance.

Side Effects of Castor Oil

A woman suffering from side effects of castor oil

While considered generally safe, castor oil may cause issues for some people.

The most common adverse effects include abdominal cramping, vomiting, bloating, and dizziness.

Chronic use of any laxative may cause electrolyte imbalances and dehydration.

When applying castor oil topically, there is a risk of an allergic reaction; though rare, it is a possibility.

Pregnant women should be aware that the compound ricinoleic acid may increase contractions because it stimulates the same receptor in the uterus as the intestines.

Consulting your doctor before using is vital for everyone, particularly if you are pregnant.


When Should I Take Castor Oil To Lose Weight?

You should take castor oil immediately before breakfast when trying to lose weight. This timing probably has to be due to castor oil’s laxative effect.

Castor oil can produce a bowel movement within two to six hours, so taking it late in the day could disrupt sleep.

Can Castor Oil Reduce Belly Fat?

It is unlikely that castor oil will reduce belly fat, though many people believe it promotes weight loss, probably due to its proven laxative effects.


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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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