A new study on an old druggist's standard is yeilding new results and research. But hold off before you start force feeding a spoon fool of Castor Oil to the kids, like your Great-Grandma used to.
“When you study classic, old drugs, you almost always learn something from them,” says first author of the new study Stefan Offermanns, a biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Germany. “The major surprise here was how specifically castor oil worked.”
Ricinoleic acid, the fatty acid that makes up about 90% of the oil, binds to one particular receptor in the intestines and uterus, the researchers discovered. The discovery explains how castor oil works and could lead to the development of less unpleasant drugs.
The knowledge that ricinoleic acid binds to EP3 could be used to design drugs that target the receptor, says Bennett. Such drugs could serve as laxatives or labor-inducers without the side effects, like nausea, of castor oil.
A daily dose of castor oil won’t keep the doctor away, and modern medicine and case study still hasn’t backed up claims that it also "treats skin conditions, eases pain, and cures infections".