6 Health Benefits of Ricinus Communis (Castorbean) – Ben Cao Medical Book

1. Description:

Ricinus communis (also known as castorbean or castor-oil-plant, Chinese Pinyin: Bi Ma, Simplified Chinese: 蓖麻, 大麻子, 老麻了, 草麻), is a species of perennial, flowering, herbaceous plant in genus Ricinus (Euphorbiaceae family). Indigenous to the southeastern Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa, and India, but is widespread throughout tropical regions such as China (from between 20 to 500 meters in elevation), the plant can grow up to 5 meters tall. The seeds of Ricinus communis is used as detoxicant, discutient, analgesic and sedative in traditional Chinese medicine (CTM) and widely adopted in treating different diseases and health problems, such as paralysis and pharyngitis.

2. Odour, Properties And Channels:

The seeds of Ricinus communis (castor bean) is considered to have sweet, pungent, neutral and low-to-medium toxicity properties and to be associated with the lung and large intestine meridians.

3. Uses, Health Benefits of Ricinus Communis & Medical Formulas:

3.1 Cold, Flu, Fever And Coughing

Pounded castor bean and red dates can be used externally to treat snuffles as well as migraine.

3.2 Reducing Inflammation, Swelling And Relieving Pain

Ointment made with Euphorbia kansui rhizome, castor bean kernel and camphor is used externally in relieving anesthesia dolorosa (also known as anaesthesia dolorosa or deafferentation pain, it is the pain felt in an area (usually of the face) which is completely numb to touch).

3.3 Throat Health

Smoke from burning castor bean kernel can be used to treat pharyngitis.

Castor bean and sodium sulfate can be pounded and taken with water to treat sore throat.

3.4 Skin Health

Ointment made with castor bean and storesin is applied externally to treat beriberi.

Fresh bulbs of lycoris radiata and castor beans are pounded and used in treating edema (swelling caused by fluid retention).

Ointment made with pounded castor bean kernel, vegetable oil and grin powder can be applied externally to treat skin burn.

Castor bean kernel, yellow lead and sulfur are pounded and mixed with goat brain, it can be used externally to remove freckle.

3.5 Paralysis

A decoction of castor oil and wine is taken to treat hemiparesis, or unilateral paresis (weakness of one entire side of the body) accompanied with aphonia.

Smashed castor bean kernel can be applied externally to treat facial paralysis as well as difficulty with urination.

3.6 Gynecological Diseases and Disorders

Powdered castor bean kernel and dried alum can be used externally to treat vaginal prolapse.

Castor bean, croton and musk are powdered and used externally to induce labor.

4. Research And Studies:

Castor seeds contain ricin which may cause poisoning.


The Ben Cao Medical Book (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu; Chinese: 本草纲目) is the most famous and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Compiled and written by Li Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over 27 years.

The Ben Cao Medical Book records and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties in TCM. The book reflects the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia before the 16th century. On the basis of his predecessors’ achievements in the pharmacological studies, Li contributed further by supplementing and rectifying many past mistakes and misconception in relate to nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. Charles Darwin, originator of the biological theory of evolution, regards the book as the “ancient Chinese encyclopedia”.

Disclaimer: The Ben Cao Medical Book is translated by ChinaAbout.net. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of CTM knowledge and information from the research and experience from the author Li Shi-zhen. Kindly be alert that the CTM knowledge and ancient formulas given above are likely NOT medically proven and may contain misconceptions.

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