Fact-check: Castor oil is not a magic pill

Fact-check: Castor oil is not a magic pill

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Castor oil

Contrary to what social media influencers may claim, castor oil cannot dissolve tumours, cure arthritis or detox the liver; at best, it may provide short-term relief from constipation. 

A viral video on Facebook and YouTube claims that castor oil can not only prevent life-threatening diseases, but it can also help patients fully recover from them. The vegetable oil can supposedly dissolve tumours, eliminate bone spurs, and uterine fibroids, among other purported health benefits. 

The person seen in the video, Barbara O’Neill, describes herself as a naturopath. She has been barred from practising medicine by the Australian New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) in 2019. However, she is still active on social media and regularly posts videos of unscientific health remedies, while discouraging people from seeking care from qualified medical practitioners. 

Barbara’s Facebook account has over 250,000 followers. The current video has got more than 60,000 views (at the time of writing this). It is also an inspiration for another YouTube video (in Hindi) by Anurag Rishi, a motivational speaker from India, that has garnered over 10 lakh views in four months. The video, quoting Barbara, claims that castor oil can help in the regrowth of hair, cure arthritis, get rid of acne, and detoxify the liver. 

Here's what the medical research says: Castor oil cannot “cure” any disease. The laxative effects of castor oil on the body have long been known and it is at times recommended for short-term relief from constipation. The other touted benefits of castor oil are unsubstantiated. 

Castor oil ingestion can be poisonous. Even topical application of the oil can have detrimental side effects, which is why most doctors don’t recommend it. The side effects include intense diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea, dizziness and low blood pressure. Using castor oil on the hair can lead to clogged pores, scalp acne and irritated skin. 

In the age of social media influencers, the spread of unscientific health treatments and remedies is alarming. It is a dangerous trend that calls for greater public awareness and critical thinking. 

If you wish to check the veracity of any health-related claims, you can mail us at hello@firstcheck.in or WhatsApp us on +91 9311 223145. 

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