Palma Christi, or Castor Oil Plant. Nat. Ord. Euphorbiaeae. Linn. Syst. Moncecia Monadel-phia. Hab. East Indies, America, and the Tropics generally.
Med. Prop. and Action. The seeds are powerfully acrid and purgative; and in large doses, acro-narcotic poisons, twenty of them having proved fatal. They abound in a fixed oil (infra). In appearance, they closely resemble the tick; hence their name, Ricinus, the Latin name for that insect. Prof. Royle has identified them with " the gourd " of Scripture, and they appear to have been employed by Eastern nations for many centuries. They are not used in medicine, in their natural state. The leaves, according to Dr. M'William, are used by the women of Western Africa to increase the secretion of milk: He states, that a decoction is made by boiling a handful of the plant in Ovj. - Oviij. of Water. With this, the breasts are bathed for fifteen or eighteen minutes; part of the boiled leaves are also spread over the breasts; a copious flow of milk generally follows in a few hours. This statement is verified by Dr. Tyler Smith,* who also found it act successfully as an emmenagogue, in a case of Amenorrha. Dr. Routh prescribes a decoction of the leaves internally, as a lactagogue, and states that, when thus taken, it has the effect of increasing in a marked degree the secretion of milk.
* Flora Siberica, vol. iv. p. 121. Dispensatory, art. Rhus.
Lancet, Sept. 7, 1S50.