Oleum Ricini. Castor Oil, U.S.P.

Ricinus communis, Linne'. A fixed oil obtained from the seeds.

Habitat. India; cultivated in tropics; India, Italy, Spain, Sicily, United States.

Syn. Palma Christi, Castor Bean, Mexico Seed, Oil Plant, Oil Seed (Nut); Fr. Ricin (Graine); Ger. Wunderbaum; Ol. Ricin., Oleum Palmae Christi; Fr. Oleum e Semini Ricini, Huile de Ricin; Ger. Rizinusol.

Ric'i-aus. L. a bug, dog-tick -- i.e., from the resemblance of the seed.

Com-mu'nis. L. common, general -- i.e., it is the ordinary common species.

Plant

This is quite variable in habit and appearance -- in tropics a tree 9-12 M. (30-40 degrees) high, in warm or temperate regions a woody bush, 3.6-4.5 M. (12-15 degrees) high; in Middle United States with herbaceous stems 1.6-3 M. (5-10 degrees) high, hollow, smooth, glaucous, purplish bloom above; leaves with blade 15-20 Cm. (6-8') broad palmately divided (3/4 depth) into 7-11 lanceolate, serrate segments, smooth, bluish-green, paler beneath, on long, curved, cylindrical, purplish petioles; flowers July, monoecious, large, apetalous, racemes, staminate below, pistillate above; fruit tricoccous capsule 2.5 Cm. (1') long, blunt, greenish, deeply grooved, sometimes smooth, usually spinescent on the 3 projecting sides, 3-celled, each cell 1-seeded, which is expelled in Aug.-Sept. by capsule dehiscing into 6 valves. Seed 12 Mm. (1/2') long, 6 Mm. (1/4') broad, 3 Mm. (1/8') thick, size of a coffee grain, with caruncle, raised raphe, grayish, marbled with blackish spots or bands of various tints and shapes, smooth, shining.

Constituents

Seeds (testa 23.82 p.c., kernel 69.09 p.c.) yield fixed oil 35-45 p.c., gum (mucilage) 2.4 p.c., starch and lignin 20 p.c., albumin 5 p.c., ricinine, proteins (emulsin), sugar, ash (testa 10 p.c., kernel 4 p.c.). The poisonous principle, ricin, is an albuminoid, soluble in a 10 p.c. solution of sodium chloride, precipitated by acids, coagulated by heat; harmless to chickens.

Oleum Ricini. Castor Oil. -- This fixed oil, obtained from the seed chiefly by expression, is a pale, almost colorless, transparent, viscid liquid, faint, mild odor, bland, slightly acrid, usually nauseating taste, miscible with dehydrated alcohol or glacial acetic acid; sp. gr. 0.955; at 0 degrees C. (32 degrees F.) separates into crystalline flakes, at -18 degrees C. (-.4 degrees F.) congeals into yellow mass; contains mostly triricinolein (the glyceride of ricinoleic acid), CH(CHO)3,also palmitin, ricinoleic acid (ricinic acid, CHO, which is a viscid oil readily converted by nitrous acid into ricinelaidic acid, crystalline, melting at 50 degrees C. (122 degrees F.).  Tests: 1. Only partly soluble in petroleum benzin (dif. from most other fixed oils).  2. Soluble (clear) in an equal volume of alcohol (abs. of foreign fixed oils).  Should be kept in well-closed containers.  Dose, 3j-8 (4-30 cc.).

Adulterations

Rare: Cottonseed, rapeseed, sesame, and mineral oils -- detected by decreased solubility in alcohol and preceding tests.

Commercial

Plant, called Palma Christe from supposed shape of leaves resembling Christ's hand, is cultivated extensively in the United States for the oil which is extracted from the seed by: 1, Expression; 2, Decoction; 3, Solution (benzin, carbon disulphide, chloroform, ether).  The first method is preferred, and consists in crushing and freeing seed of the integuments, dark skin, etc., and expressing at 60 degrees C. (140 degrees F.), or in heating clean seed in shallow tanks short of scorching, 65 degrees C. (150 degrees F.), to render oil more fluid, and expressing them hydraulically in hempen bags between hot iron plates; while this affords the greatest yield of oil it is of interior quality, the best being from hand-screw presses.  This white oil now is run into iron vats with water, boiled to separate impurities (albumin being coagulated and removed by skimming, mucilage and starch being dissolved in water), strained, reboiled (to destroy acidity), strained, and, if opaque, treated with fuller's earth, or magnesium oxide (1 p.c.) and animal charcoal (2.5 p.c.), filtered through paper and felt, and put into cans or barrels, constituting as such cold-pressed castor oil; by grinding marc with water and expressing may obtain 6-8 p.c. additional good oil; the yield by cold expression is 25-30 p.c., with heat 35-45 p.c.  The method by decoction, owing to water dissolving poisonous ricin and heat increasing oil's acidity, is not so desirable, consisting in crushing the seed after removing husks (testa), boiling with water (oil floating on surface), straining, reboiling to dissipate acrid principle, straining, filtering: this oil usually is brownish, acrid, irritating, and comes from E. And W. Indies.  The method by solution causes the oil to turn rancid quicker, in spite of which it is preferred in France and Italy, being considered more agreeable and effective.  The so-called popular Italian castor oil is produced extensively around Verona, Italy, where only fresh seed thoroughly deprived of coating are expressed hydraulically without heat; this oil although remarkedly free from disagreeable odor and taste is none the less active.  An ethereal or alcoholic tincture of the seed is claimed to be less irritating and nauseous.  The press-cake, usually 60 p.c., is employed chiefly as a fertilizer, and, after the removal of ricin by salt solution, as a cattle-food.  In India there are two varieties of seeds, large and small, the latter yielding the best oil.

Preparations

1. Collodion Flexile, 3 p.c.  2. Emulsum Olei Ricini, N.F., 35 p.c., + acacia 9, tincture of vanilla 2.5, syrup 20, water q.s. 100.  Dose, 3j-2 (30-60 cc.); 3. Oleum Ricini Aromaticum, N.F., 97 p.c., + gluside 1/20, oil of cinnamon 3/10, oil of clove 1/10, vanillin 1/10, coumarin 1/100, alcohol 3.  Dose, 3iv-8 (15-30 cc.).  4. Linimentum Sinapis Compositum, N.F., 15 p.c.

Unoff. Preps.: Castor Oil Mixture (Br.), 37.5 p.c., 3j-2 (30-60 cc.); Capsules, Paste.

Properties

Purgative, demulcent.  It is non-irritating until the duodenum is reached, where the bile and pancreatic juice decompose it into glycerin and ricinoleic acid; this latter combines with sodium, forming sodium rincinoleate, which mildly irritates the bowels, causing purgation, stimulating muscular glands and coat, but not the liver; acts in 4 to 6 hours, producing liquid stools without much pain or tenesmus, followed by sedative effect on intestines. Leaves are said to be galactagogic when applied to breast, and to impart cathartic power to the milk and various secretions.  Glycerin increases the purgative effect.

Uses

Constipation, colic, diarrhea, dysentery, enteritis in pregnancy, puerperal stat e, tape and lumbricoid worms, traumatic fever, renal calculi, night-sweats, amenorrhea, engorged liver, hemorrhoids, cystitis gonorrhea.  In dysentery may add laudanum mxx (1.3 cc.), to each dose in order to counteract any pain, tenesmus, or exhaustion from frequent passages; externally applied to warts, as a local sedative, protective; base of Turkish-red oil used in calico dyeing and printing.

Administration. -- In emulsion flavored to suit, or equal quantities of oil and either heavy sarsaparilla, peppermint, or cinnamon syrup beaten together, or take with soda water, malt liqur, orange juice, coffee, etc.  All disguise very effectively the nauseating oil taste.  At one time the seed were employed, but action too violent; their griping principle (ricin) is said to reside in the embryo and testa, hence to make best oil most of these should be removed before expressing.