Is it just Caribbean parents who believe in giving their children weekly laxatives? I’ve heard tales from some of my Southern friends about their grandparents doing the same thing, but hardly with the same commonality as island families did.

My mother spared me from the experience she had as a little one, but my grandmother apparently was a tyrant with it. Weekly doses of senna were washed down with a spoonful of castor oil. And this wasn’t the unscented castor oil you see on drugstore shelves today, oh no. This was the real deal Holyfield, the pungent, dark, strong castor oil. Down your throat and through your pipes with a quickness.

My mom has awful memories of castor oil, but she also recalls it being of tremendous help to her during pregnancies, and difficult child deliveries. And most recently, castor oil has been of tremendous help to me — although not by internal ingestion. Castor oil has proven to be an island remede par excellence, and the holy grail my hair so desperately needed!

Before you run out and buy a bottle, be forewarned. Castor oil is thick and sticky. If you buy Jamaican Black Castor Oil, the kind made popular by regulars on the super popular and informative Long Hair Care Forums, you’ll also notice it’s an unrefined and um, pungent product. But if you overlook the initial ick factor and stick with it, you just might notice the kind of differences I have!

Castor oil has been known to help with hair growth (even on eyebrows, according to Rashida B!), and according to Sam’s 24/7, where it’s available for sale, castor oil “is known to cleanse toxins from the scalp, nourish and thicken the hair, stimulate hair growth, moisturize dry brittle hair, repair split ends, and give hair body and bounce.

I can testify that it’s helped me to keep my hair soft and moist, and it’s practically solved my ongoing dry, flaky scalp issues. So how do you use castor oil for your hair? There are SO many ways!

— as a sealant for your ends, to keep in moisture

— as a scalp massage oil after a brown sugar scalp scrub

— add it to your conditioner for additional moisturizing power

— for a hair mask with a plastic cap. Add honey and a thick conditioner, like Queen Helene’s cholesterol

— as a pre-shampoo oil treatment with your favorite other oils (jojoba, grapeseed, olive, coconut… indulge your inner mixtress!)

— as a post-conditioner styling oil when hair is still wet

And I know there are other ways to use this wonder oil that I haven’t thought of or tried yet for both hair and skin. I know quite a few beautiful women who have used castor oil on their lips, or paired with sugar or salt for a body scrub. The possibilities are endless!

Have you tried castor oil in your beauty regimen? Let me know how you’ve used it, and if it’s worked for you!

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Mrs. Sowell says:
September 21, 2009, 12:58 pm
My Trinidadian laxative of choice is senna. :) Anyhoo, castor oil and anything granny says to do works wonders. I have been using castor oil as a hot oil treatment to cure my dry flaky scalp and it has been marvelous!!! When my hair was locked, I would use it as an additive in my Jane Carter Nourish and Shine for extra moisturizing. I guess it is your job to share the secrets...just when I was going to bottle up and label it "the cure" :)
Moe says:
September 21, 2009, 1:39 pm
thank you bella for doing a post about castor oil, maybe you can help me find it on the looking for the jamaican black castor oil. every time i find it its sold out. HELP!!! you know of any sites that sell the product. would really appreciate it.
David says:
September 21, 2009, 2:14 pm
Hi Bella, This post has been timely in the fact I have been looking for this caster oil that we always had take just before going to school. I will be adding your site to my google reader. Thanks for a great post. Dave. P.S. I will also RT this post.
Mommymel says:
September 21, 2009, 2:56 pm
Yes I remember gagging on the castor oil once a week. We sent all Saturday night dreading Sunday. Between scratchy dresses for church and castor oil...well, you know the rest. Bleh! But I'm grown now and have recognized it's place in my body's life so now I take it in pill format.
b. says:
September 21, 2009, 3:35 pm
Me and my hair lurves me some castor. I don't digest, no. But I certainly do use it in my hair, especially during the winter! Between this and coconut, i'm set for life! (oh yeah..and some giovanni 50/50)
Vixxan says:
September 21, 2009, 3:53 pm
I'm from a small town in Louisiana and I can tell horror stories about castor oil. No it's not just Caribbean parents southerns love this stuff. No matter what your illness was my parents always thought castor oil was the cure. You're having a heart attack - castor oil. You have the plaque- castor oil. One your eyes fell out - castor oil. My mother tortured my sister and with castor oil. My parents went so far as to try and hide in our orange juice and I still can't drink orange juice. My parents used this stuff on me so often that I have developed a built in castor oil detector. I can smell it in just about any product including the odorless castor. I have tried in hair dress/moisturizers. I don't think I could ever try it directly on my scalp.
Candice says:
September 21, 2009, 4:41 pm
So funny! My granny use to make me take a big spoon full when I was little and I had forgot all about it...I really never knew what it was for. Thanks for the reminder!
flygyrl72 says:
September 21, 2009, 5:04 pm
Castor oil has always been a part of my natural hair care repertoire. I use it in the oil concoction I make for pre-pooing. When I was little, my mom & aunts would use it on my scalp when they were doing my cornrows. Love the stuff!
Ellie says:
September 21, 2009, 8:01 pm
I'm a St. Lucian girl, and trust....the senna/castor combo would be waiting for me every sunday! At the time I wished the ground would open and swallow me whole! As I got older, my grandmother showed me another way to use castor oil. Mix 2 tablespoons of castor oil, and 1 table spoon of another oil that you like (olive oil, sweet almond oil, etc.). Mix together, and rub onto the skin in gentle circles for about 3 mins.... Wet a washcloth with hot water - as hot as you can stand - wring it out, and place over your face for a few seconds. Lift the washcloth, and wipe the oil mixture off gently (you may have to repeat the washcloth process about twice) feels so REFRESHING! You'll have beautiful and glowing skin for DAYS! ;)
alfa says:
September 21, 2009, 8:23 pm
I'm not sure what my aunt's website is, but she produces Jamaican Castor Oil (and honey). It's available all over the island. You can email her at eylja at yahoo dot com.
goldenstar says:
September 21, 2009, 9:02 pm
how is it used for eyebrows? mine need some badly!
BritB says:
September 21, 2009, 11:38 pm
sams24-7 sells black castor oil. i also followed the e-trail; alfa's aunt's castor oil is sold through reggae treats dot com.
Michelle says:
September 22, 2009, 8:15 am
Oh, the castor oil and senna memories. When I consider the amount of both that I drank as a child, it's a wonder all of our insides didn't come out. Every week, without fail. Sometimes twice because you'd get some at home and more at granny's house. To this day, I still thank my father for putting a stop to the castor oil madness. I think mommy gave him some one day and he realized how awful it was and decided we didn't need it anymore. At least that's how I remember it. My mother also used it in our hair when we got older. She'd mix castor and coconut oils, heat them up and put the concoction on our hair and scalp. I think I'll start doing that again (on the weekends though, since they both smell).
Kelly says:
September 22, 2009, 10:23 am
I didn't grow up taking castor oil probably because my mother of my mother's own memories of having to take it when she was young (southern folks). However last year I discovered oil washing for my face which keeps my oily skin clear and blemish free. Every night I use a mixture of castor oil and olvie oil and just like Ellie says rub it on my face, put a hot wash cloth over my face to let it steam till the wash cloth gets cool, then wipe off the oil with the cloth. In the morning I just splash my face with water and put on a moisterizer. Voila, beautiful skin!
Samanarana says:
September 22, 2009, 11:56 am
Castor oil seriously does wonders. My mama gave it to me as a child as a laxative...and yes, the memories are not too fond but I'm still alive and healthy. :)
Moe says:
September 22, 2009, 1:14 pm
the problem with ordering it online is that the shipping will cost more than the product now on a hunt for a local store in my neighborhood that carries it, thanks though to everyone for their help.
glamazini says:
September 22, 2009, 1:51 pm
In the Virgin Islands we use aloe which we call "simpovivy" (not sure if that's the spelling).
Chai says:
September 22, 2009, 4:17 pm
The wonders of castor oil seriously have me reconsidering! I used it several months back, but found it didn't do much for my hair. Never thought to add it to my facial regime, sweet idea! I have combo-skin and can use all the help. But will also search for the Jamaican oil, I'm determined to see good results on my hair;-)
MoniMoni says:
September 22, 2009, 11:27 pm
Hi Bella! Been a while since I have left a comment... I also have memories of having to take castor oil, but in my house it was given once a month. I gave a good fight though, so I graduated to Fletcher's Castoria for Children, which was sweeter. It was the cod liver oil that was given every single day. OOOOH!!!! The memories!!! UGGH! As far as a beauty treatment, I have been using JBCO in my hair since May, I have had less breakage and it has made my hair softer and a bit thicker. I mix it with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and also apply it the ends of my hair. I'm so glad that Sam's is in same state only 2 hrs away so I can go straight there and pick it up when I'm in the area to go shopping. I would like to know more about the facial regime myself.
JenG says:
September 23, 2009, 2:57 pm
I am a castor oil baby too! My grandmother would line us up at night for our weekly dosage. I will trying it in my hair and as a face regimen. Learned a lot from this post! Thanks Bella's!
dajewel says:
September 24, 2009, 4:13 pm
hello, am belizean, and senna or castor oil as a laxative is no joke!!!! but every week with senna??? no way!!! that is just hard core!! btw: i love your site! i have been natural since 2003-ish, and i am just now realizing how to properly take care of natural hair.
dajewel says:
September 24, 2009, 4:19 pm
oh, and i forgot to add: if castor oil is so thick, would it be smart to try to seal the ends of my hair in humid climates (l live in florida)? i usually like to wear my hair big, but i really need help in decreasing the amount of knots i get. any suggestions would be great!!
Lauren says:
September 24, 2009, 7:04 pm
Wow..this took me back! I thought my siblings and I in Chicago suffered the castor oil demon alone! If we were good, my grandma would give us chasers, like a teaspoon of pickle relish or a tablespoon of honey, lol! Btw, I've been lurking for a long time, and I love your site.
LBell says:
September 25, 2009, 9:00 am
Like Kelly, I was spared the experience of castor oil because of my parents' experience. However, like MoniMoni, I do remember Fletcher's Castoria being a part of my childhood. Ick! Now, as for castor oil and hair: It has been an ingredient in my homemade leave-ins for a minute. But here's the real revelation: Until recently when I dampened my hair at night prior to twisting I just used plain water. Now I use a mix of about 3/4 water and 1/4 castor oil and I swear 'fo GAWD it's really making a difference in the softness and thickness of my hair. This mix is a keeper for sure! I'm currently using JBCO that I ordered from Sam's but honestly I don't notice that much of a difference between it, the cold-pressed stuff you get at the health food store, or even the stuff in the laxative aisle at Walgreen's.
Celine says:
September 26, 2009, 9:57 am
Castor oil is great for my hair and my nails, it makes them so much stronger and activates growth (for my nails)I used to use it on my eyelashes but didn't notice such a difference. I use the clear one I buy at the pharmacy because here, in France we don't really have acces to the black Jamaican one :-(...maybe I'll find it in Martinique next month!
ayomidejpw says:
September 26, 2009, 3:31 pm
I have used castor oil for my eyebrows and they do help with growth and dry skin that you can get underneath. I use it for my ends and scalp before I wash. I grew up in the south I was given some other nasty stuff that was pink as a laxative it probably had castor oil in it. It was thick and gross. My mother said her parents also used it for a laxative so she was surprised when I told her I use it for my hair. It does help with hair growth.
Saby D says:
September 27, 2009, 2:46 pm
I'm haitian, so I know alot about the powers of castor oil. I grew up with this really smelly miracle oil being placed on my head every few days. Castor oil to me is like a protein treatment, it makes your hair strong. I just went back to the haitian castor oil and I love it. It keeps my edges from falling out with sew ins and braids. I wish more people would use this stuff, they would see a big difference in their hair.
Ama says:
September 27, 2009, 9:55 pm
Crystal's Royal Secret's uses Castor oil in the creation of it's hair products. They make the most extraordinary Herbal hair rejuvenator( Peach scented or unscented), Herbal hair oil, as well as a Sheep sorrell ointment for problem areas on your scalp...I've used these products for many years and find them very nourishing and they definitely grow hair using no petroleum, lanolin or cheap filler oils. I highly recommend these products!
Ama says:
September 27, 2009, 9:57 pm
Crystal's Royal Secrets can be found at
Pearlsrevealed says:
September 28, 2009, 2:10 pm
Late to this party; nevertheless, here is my 2 cents. Love castor oil. My fave lip balms are castor oil based. Recently thought about exploring more products that uses it. Growing up in Louisiana, I remember my mom giving us castor oil to "wash us out" a week before school started in the Fall. In retrospect, this was wise. the lining of our GI tract is the first line of defense for the immune system. It makes sense to periodically purge of impurities, enabling our immune system to do its' job. These days with the treat of a pandemic flu that seems imminent, we should be doing all we can to stay healthy.
Lrod says:
September 30, 2009, 3:28 am
It's very funny to hear people saying they were cleaned out with castor oil, I'm Puerto Rican and my mom talked about how my grandma used to giver her another type of oil, I think it was some kind of fish oil, but she did clean her out all the time with enemas. I think it was cod liver oil; She's from the island too...So, that being said, I wonder where this need to clean people out comes from??
qselby says:
October 1, 2009, 6:40 pm
I have a question about using the oils to wash your face. Would any of you guys suggest that someone with extremely oily, acne prone skin try this out? No one wants a flare up!
caramelhoney says:
October 4, 2009, 9:43 am
hmm all this stuff about castor oils seems very interesting. i think my mom used to use it when i was younger, on my hair..but maybe i should try again with it. i am considering using it as a face wash, because i dont have a good face wash regimen.
Wanda says:
October 22, 2009, 10:43 am
One for my co-workers bought me JBCO when he went home to Jamaica. I have some on my scalp right now. LOL!
LISA says:
February 23, 2010, 12:21 pm
suzy says:
February 23, 2010, 6:11 pm
@ its not...not in tallahassee.
suzy says:
February 23, 2010, 6:13 pm
hopefully im getting the idea that laxactive and the hoe health castro oil bottles are the exact same thing...welll is it?
paradisebird says:
March 7, 2010, 12:26 pm
..castor oil-ah! It is even known for breaking down internal adhesions and scarring in the abdomen and/or around reproductive organs (some women with endometriosis and uterine myoms use it sucessfully)if used as a externally castor oil pack (=put some c.o. on a clean cloth, cover with a thin plastic sheet( i prefer al little, old towel instead) and with a hot water bottle. Leave pack on the lower abdomen for at least 30 Minutes. This does wonders to me, especially when cramping during Aunt Flo`s visit. I am late with this post, sorry, but I thought I shared it anyways. It is so good and a chemical free alternative to pain medication. One have to do the packs, regulary so. I usually do this every two days with amazing results. Dear bella, congrats to your recent big time sucess. I am very happy for you and love to see you on more places...if you ever considering traveling to europe and then considering coming to germany for some travel reports it would be a honour to me to show you round in our capital and give you an overview about black german history (because we have a rich one! in the meantime -is there a chance that you will write an island remede/home remede psot soon. these are on of my favourites and i have nearly tried them all, ....xoxo, Monika/paradisebird
Sonya Collins says:
August 2, 2010, 6:13 pm
Where can I purchase the real Haitian Castor Oil. Do I have to order it or can I buy it in the stores.
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