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Does Castor Oil Burn Fat? According to a Dietitian

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: July 31, 2022

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, many of my clients were curious if the castor oil for weight loss concoction great-grandma swore by really works.

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 can aid weight loss.

Here’s what I found.

Quick Summary

  • It is doubtful that castor oil aids fat loss; much of its purported weight loss benefits likely come from potent laxative effects.
  • Castor oil consumption is unsuitable for pregnant women as it contains a compound, Ricinoleic acid, that may increase contractions and induce labor.
  • You can apply castor oil topically as a skin moisturizer for wound healing and to potentially treat arthritis, and you can also take castor oil as a digestive system aid.

Can You Burn Fat With Castor Oil?

Castor oil on beans sack

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

While you may not lose belly fat with castor oil, the fatty acids, antioxidant and moisturizing properties make it ideal for hydrating and helping tighten loose skin.

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.

Castor oil has been widely used in traditional medicine to treat abdominal disorders, arthritis, sciatica, chronic headache, constipation, and insomnia [2].

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?

In the body, castor oil works as a highly effective stimulant laxative and is most likely why some people try it to lose weight and may even successfully shed a few pounds.

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?

Castor beans close up image with oil in bottle

People looking to reap the benefits of castor oil have a couple of options depending on what they are looking to do.

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.

The most common reason to consume castor oil is to alleviate constipation, and its laxative effects are proven to work [6].

Additionally, research supports oral supplementation for anti-inflammatory effects, and it may be a successful treatment for arthritis [7].

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

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Rub Castor Oil On Your Skin

Rubbing oil on your skin

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:

Side Effects of Castor Oil

An asian woman feeling dizzy

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.

FAQs

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.

So, Should You Use Castor Oil To Burn Fat?

There is not much evidence to support castor oil for weight loss. So how do you lose unwanted belly fat?

Your diet and exercise must be a priority in a weight loss plan, either on your own or working with a dietician or fitness trainer like myself.

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

I’ve tried both; trust me, fat burner supplements will have you obliterating fat and losing weight. Plus, they taste way better than chugging a glass of thick oil and juice.


References:

  1. https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/ricinus-communis/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29084706/
  3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313523
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551626/
  5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/castor-oil-for-weight-loss#side-effects
  6. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-278/castor-oil-oral/details
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19288533/
  8. https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-castor-oil-89087
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14528387/
  10. https://www.healthline.com/health/castor-oil-pack

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