Does Castor Oil Really Help With Weight Loss?

One of the biggest health challenges in the world today, and particularly in the U.S., is obesity, a medical condition that is ascribed to being way too overweight. Over 40% of all Americans now classify as obese, per U.S. News & World Report. This goes a long way to show how much of a problem weight issues can be for many people and how many folks would be seeking helpful tips for weight loss.

Being overweight can cause body insecurity, confidence issues, social anxiety, and even depression, per Mental Help. For something that affects such a huge number of people and has serious medical and social consequences, it is no surprise that a lot of solutions have been devised to help people deal with the situation, from products promising to help you burn belly fat, to those offering to get rid of your excess weight in impossible time frames. There are also slimming teas, supplements (via Web MD), diet and exercise regimens for losing weight, special nutrition plans, intermittent fasting (via Everyday Health), and many others. One solution being proposed is castor oil, which, although not so popular for this purpose, is said by some to have a link to weight loss.

Castor oil, which some insist is great for weight loss, is actually an organic product derived from the seeds of a native East African plant known as Ricinus communis, per Very Well Health.

Castor oil is basically a laxative

Those seeds, known as castor beans, can be harmful, as they contain a toxic substance called ricin. Due to the heating process that the seeds go through in the extraction phase, the oil comes out harmless (via Proactive Health Labs). The oil can be used and ingested for different purposes, including stomach upsets and insomnia. It's perhaps most often used as a laxative.

Castor oil is considered a weight loss product because of those laxative qualities, per Healthline. Because it contains a natural chemical known as ricinoleic acid, castor oil actually helps stimulate bowel movement, and relieves constipation, which can bring about weight loss, per Healthline. It is solely on this premise that castor oil's powers of aiding weight loss rests.

Because there are more medically-tested and verified products designed particularly for the relief of constipation, castor oil can't be relied on so much, especially as it does not work for everyone (per Medical News Today). And its potency as a weight loss substance is not so universal either. There have been no findings to suggest that the oil either slows down metabolism rate or reduces the rate at which one gets hungry, per Healthline. Medical science advises against using laxatives of any kind for weight loss, says Medical News Today, which calls the practice "an unsafe and ineffective strategy." Any reduction using laxatives would result from eliminating waste and removing water from the body, not fat.