Castor Oil: is obtained from the above-named seeds in three ways: 1, by expression; 2, by decoction; 3, by the agency of Alcohol. The expressed oil (offic), called cold-drawn, is the most generally employed; it is much lighter coloured and clearer than that obtained by decoction, but I have invariably found that, if properly prepared, without too great an application of heat, the latter is the more powerful purgative, although it is more nauseous in its taste, and causes more griping than the cold-drawn oil. Comp. Carbon 74.00, Hydrogen 10.29, Oxygen 15.71, in 100. If pure, it is entirely dissolved in one volume of Alcohol, and in two volumes of Rectified Spirit.
Med. Prop. and Action. Castor Oil is one of the most valuable purgatives in the Materia Medica. The cold-drawn oil is particularly mild, and is well adapted for children, for the puerperal state, inflammatory conditions of the alimentary canal, or of the genito-urinary organs, and after operations. Castor Oil contains three oily acids, - the Ricinic, Ricin-Stearic, and Ricin-Oleic combined with Glycerine, - and an acrid resinous matter. In doses of fl. oz. ss. - fl. oz. j., it produces two or three stools in the course of three or four hours, without griping or uneasiness. The great objection to it is its nauseous taste; to disguise this it is best given floating on strong coffee, milk, or some aromatic water. Magendie advises it with an equal quantity of syrup of lemons. Made into an emulsion with mucilage, flavoured with the juice of a lemon and 3ss. of T. Cardom. Co., its taste is effectually disguised. It may be administered in capsules. One of the great advantages of Castor Oil is, that it leaves very little, if any, subsequent constipation; and the dose, each time it is taken, may be gradually decreased, until fl. drm. j. is sufficient to produce a full evacuation. That it acts specifically upon the mucous membrane of the intestines is shown by the fact that, when injected into the veins, or rubbed on the abdomen, it acts as a purgative. In some persons it causes vomiting, but this is more the effect of its nauseous taste than of any inherent emetic property.
Dose, fl. drm. j. - fl. oz. j., or more.
In Dyspepsia, attended with inflammation or vascular excitement of the pylorus and duodenum, there are some medicines which appear to exercise a direct antiphlogistic effect upon the mucous membrane of the intestines. At the head of these, Dr. T. J. Todd § places Castor Oil, in doses of 3j daily. If its soothing and antiphlogistic effect be desired, it is best given at bedtime; if its aperient action, in the morning. " In the above cases," Dr. Todd observes, "Castor Oil is a most valuable remedy, often, by its soothing effect, acting like an opiate, and it has the most direct and remarkable power of allaying and relieving a heated state of the mucous membranes of the pylorus and duodenum. No medicine is more eminently endowed with this property. In obstinate cases of this disease, I have known," he states, "a small teaspoonful of Castor Oil, taken every night as long as the stomach could easily bear it, attended with the most signal success." The effects of Castor Oil upon the stomach afford a very good test of the nature of the morbid condition of its mucous membrane. In atonic Dyspepsia it is borne with the greatest difficulty, producing nausea and vomiting; in purely irritable Dyspepsia, a small dose of Castor Oil acts severely, and with much griping; but if there be any degree of vascular excitement of the mucous membranes, it soothes and quiets, and it is often most useful in this way when it has no aperient action. Its good effects will not be frustrated by administering it in any mild carminative water, in emulsion, in coffee, or by combining it with a little Liq. PotassAe.
* Lond. Journ. of Med., Oct. 1850. Med. Times, June 4, 1849, p. 574.
Garrod, Ess. Mat. Med. and The-rap., p. 278. § Cyc. Pract. Med., vol ii. p. 652.
2378. In Colic, when the stomach is not too irritable to bear it, Castor Oil is often productive of great benefit. In doses of fl. drm. j. - fl. drs. ij., with gutt. j. - ij. of Ol. Menth. Pip. and ex. - xx. of T. Opii, it generally affords great relief; even in severe Ileus, and in the dry Belly-ache of the West Indies, it has been found of great service. A full dose, fl. oz. j. - fl. oz. iss., may also be given as a purgative, with or without the Oil of Turpentine. In Cholera, Castor Oil, in doses of ss. every half-hour till the bowels are freely acted upon, is advised by Dr. G. Johnson.* This treatment caused some sensation at the time it was proposed, but it has fallen into disuse.
It operates speedily, without much griping, and causes less subsequent constipation than any other purgative to remedy this state. It is well adapted for children, and for women during pregnancy. It may be given daily for some weeks, gradually reducing the dose, until less than 3j. be taken, after which the bowels continue to act without further artificial assistance. (A. T. Thompson.)
2380. To Bed-sores occurring in Typhus and other Fevers, an excellent application is composed of two parts of Castor Oil and one of Balsam of Peru spread on pieces of lint, which are laid on the sore, and covered with a Linseed poultice, to be changed three or four times a day. (Murchison.)
* Med. Times and Gaz., Sept. 9,1854. On Fevers, 1862, p. 286.