Castor oil used to be known as a household remedy in many homes, but not only that, it was also a big deterrent for bad children. That’s right, I’m sure most of you have heard the ole saying, “If you don’t behave, You’re gonna get the Castor Oil“. Just hearing that is enough to make me wanna behave and I’m an adult…lol
Of course now days the generations that used castor oil for remedies and punishment have long past, along with it that parental advice of medicinal punishments. But castor oil is still seen quite often in comedy sitcoms and cartoons, I love the Tom and Jerry episode where Tom swallows that huge spoon of castor oil! Yuk!
These references to castor oil are not quite as funny to today’s generation as they are to older generations, simply because they’ve never experienced the power of this stuff. In fact there are tons of Strange and Bizarre, Medicine and Cures that have been used over the ages, many of which are not so common in today’s world.
What is Castor Oil
So we’ve talked a lot about how the term castor oil has been slung around over the ages, but you may be wondering, “what exactly is this castor oil stuff.“
Castor oil is a colorless liquid extracted from the seeds of Ricinus communis, it’s some sort of tropical plant. It was usually given to children by the spoonful as a weekly supplement. Supposedly it had great health promoting properties, if you could ever get the foul tasting stuff down. Castor oil was even used to treat many symptoms of common illness such as colds, fevers, upset stomach and even constipation. For those of you familiar with Lifebuoy soap, a terrible tasting soap used to punish kids for using bad language. Well, castor oil is basically the pharmaceutical equivalent, and yes, it was also used as a punishment in past generations.
The Real Truth about Castor Oil
It’s pretty bad that something like castor oil would not only be used as a medicine, but a punishment as well. That actually sounds a bit abusive in my book. But it’s even worse than it sounds. In modern times, castor oil is only used as a laxative, but it’s not a very good one as I’m concerned due to the nature of how it works.
Basically the reason it works well for constipation is because it will cause your bowels to cramp up which may result in terrible consequences. You could easily expect things like explosive diarrhea, super duper bowel movements while you’re sleeping and just some terrible side effects. Does this sound like something you would take for constipation? Much less feed your children for being bad, right?
In fact castor oil was often used as a torture device by Italian mobsters. It was forcefully fed to victims with the intention of humiliating and dehydrating them.
That’s not all, get this…. The castor bean is a source for ricin. Ricin is a poisonous substance with extremely lethal side effects. Administering a dose as small as a few grains can actually kill a full grown adult!
They say that the methods used to extract the castor oil are safe because they filter out the toxic material during the extraction. But how could one be absolutely certain the oil was free of toxins? That makes me think back to the explosive diarrhea, sure sounds like poison to me!
So there again, why in the world would someone feed this stuff to their children.
Cod-Liver Oil, an Alternative to Castor Oil
The British have used a similar substance called cod-liver oil for ages on their children. Most children in the common household would line up on a daily basis to receive their healthy spoonful of this castor oil substitute. This stuff was literally squeezed from the fermenting livers of cod fish, and talk about a terribly disgusting flavor. Castor oil had nothing on the taste of cod-liver oil. But here’s where they differ…
The cod-liver oil actually did have some medicinal properties, and was not used to torture people. The cod-liver oil was rich in vitamins A and D which would help fight off childhood diseases, plus it was loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Recent studies proved that cod-liver oil was excellent in treating ADHD, arthritis and even ear infections.
So the British were definitely onto something good with their foul tasting oil, but I guess the rest of us jumped the gun a bit thinking, “Oh boy, this will keep them little rascals walking a chalk!”
Have you ever received your spoon full of castor oil? Tell us all about it…