Palma Christi or the “Hand of Christ” is the ancient name for what we know as the Castor Bean, from which is made castor oil. Just mentioning the word castor oil causes those within certain age ranges to have quite unpleasant flashbacks of having to swallow a spoonful of castor oil at the first sign of contracting a cold.
Castor oil is a triglyceride of fatty acids, which is a combination of three fatty acids (organic acids, which fats and oils within the body are made). One of its trigycerides (almost90%) is Ricindeic Acid, which is responsible for castor oils remarkable healing properties. At this point ricindeic acid has not been found in any other plant. It has also been proven to be effective in preventing the growth of several species of molds, yeasts and viruses. This speaks to its success in treating fungal infections, ringworm, inflammations and non-cancerous growths.
The castor bean is native to India and has been used for thousands of years in many parts of the world such as Africa, the Americas, Russia, Persia, Greece and China. Its most familiar uses are for constipation and as a lubricant not only on the skin but also on industrial equipment (because castor oil will not freeze). Medicinally it has a great many uses: arthritis rub, sciatica, asthma, restore hair, skin ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, liver and gallbladder disease, bladder and vaginal infections, increase mild secretion, cataracts and more.
One of the major credits to castor oil is its effectiveness in enhancing the immune system, which is essential to those with AIDS or other serious bacterial or viral diseases. A critical component to building a strong immune system is the Lymphatic System which consists of the lymph nodes, thymus, tonsils and spleen. The fluid that circulates through the lymphatic vessels is called “lymph”, and basically it washes away waste products, toxins and other debris from the spaces between the cells, as well as the tissues. The largest concentration of lymphatic vessels are around the neck, under the arms, around the trunk/waist, the groin and the knees. The lymphatic system does not have its own motor system so it is imperative for a person to engage in regular movement (i.e. dancing, swimming, exercise etc.) to assist the lymph in flowing or draining. Poor lymphatic movement or drainage could lead to edema, problems with the heart, liver, kidneys and other organs. When castor oil is rubbed into the skin, it has been reported that the lymphocyte count of the blood increases, resulting in the increase of lymph flow in the body. This speeds up the removal of toxins and waste from around the cells and reduces swollen lymph nodes.
There are several methods of using castor oil:
1) Orally, for constipation problems, the usual suggested dose is 1 tablespoon for adults and 1 teaspoon for children. (**Only use pharmaceutical grade cold pressed, or a brand that states that it can be used internally).
2) Castor oil pack- useful for arthritis, bursitis, swelling, strains, sprains, itching, wounds, constipation, appendicitis, fluid retention accompanied by swollen joints and pain, boils, liver cirrhosis, hyperactivity, swollen lymph nodes, sinuses and upper respiratory infections. To make a castor oil pack, you will need several tablespoons of cold pressed castor oil, 2-3 pieces of flannel or white cotton (towel or T-shirt), a piece of plastic larger than the towel or flannel and a heating pad or hot water bottle. 1) Rub 1-2 tablespoons of castor oil onto the affected area for about 15 minutes, 2) pour two or more tablespoons (depending on the size of the affected area) of castor oil onto the flannel or cloth and place the flannel on the affected area, 3) cover the flannel with plastic (which holds the heat in) then cover the plastic with another towel, 4) place the heating pad over the area at the warmest tolerable temperature for about an hour. If using a hot water bottle, refill it as it begins to cool down, 5) general use is to use the pack for at least three consecutive nights, then skip three nights, until results are experienced.
3) Castor Paste – for calluses, moles, warts or ingrown toe nails, mix a pinch of baking soda with 3-4 drops of castor oil and massage into the affected area.
4) Rub or massage directly into the skin- to protect against the weather, for wrinkles, prevention of stretch marks, fungal and bacterial infections, strains, sprains, ringworm, sebaceous cysts or itching.
Castor oil has many other uses and it would be beneficial for you to do further research especially if you have any of the conditions above. Castor oil has had an amazing reputation for healing and was used for centuries by our ancestors thereby earning the right to be called an ”ancient healer”.