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In some regions of Russia, gardeners grow castor oil plant as an ornamental plant. She not only has a very beautiful appearance, but also has various medicinal properties.
The most dangerous element of such a plant is the seeds, as they contain the poison ricin. A small dose of castor beans when taken orally is fatal.
- Castor oil plant, or ricina - description of the plant
- How and where is it used
- Plant propagation
- What are Castor Beans
- Is ricin poisoning fatal?
Castor oil plant, or ricina - a description of the plant, how and where it is used
Ethiopia or Egypt is considered the birthplace of this representative of the flora, where it grew as a wild plant. Currently, it is cultivated in China, India, Argentina, Brazil, and some African countries.
Castor oil plant belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family, and is a perennial evergreen fast-growing bush with a tree-like stem, reaching a height of 10 m.In the central and southern zone of Russia, it is grown as an annual plant, the stems of which do not exceed 3 m.
Consider the components of the external structure of the castor oil plant.
Pivotal, roots are long enough and penetrate deeply into the ground.
The color scheme is very diverse. You can find green, pink, red, brown and purple stems of the plant, on the surface of which large leaves are alternately located. Shoots are straight and hollow.
Large, paw-like, dissected into 5-11 compartments, their ends are pointed, and the edges are jagged. The length can be 30 - 80 cm, and in some cases it reaches 100 cm. The leaf stalks are also very long - up to 60 cm.
Mostly same-sex. In the lower part of the inflorescence - male (anther) flowers, and in the upper part - female (pistillate). They are very small, collected in a racemose inflorescence, which has a cream or white color. There are no petals.
The nondescript appearance of the flowers is of no interest to florists.
They are a tricuspid spherical red box, studded with thorns, which is very reminiscent of a small chestnut. Its diameter is 3 cm. Thanks to this element of the plant, it is widely used in landscape design.
Inside each box there are 1-2 seeds, the external color of which gives them the appearance of a tick, which was the reason to give the plant the name "castor bean".
How and where is it used
In order to make the gardens of country houses aesthetically pleasing, florists use undersized castor bean species, the leaves and fruits of which are brightly colored. In the southern part of Russia, hedges are created from such a representative of the flora.
Application in traditional medicine
In medicine, castor oil made from plant seeds is used to achieve the following goals:
- increased intestinal motility with constipation;
- cleansing the body of toxins by accelerating lipid metabolism;
- stimulation of labor;
- regenerating effect on wounds, burns and skin ulcers;
- hemorrhoid treatment;
- removal of papillomas, corns and calluses.
In folk medicine, a poultice of plant leaves is used as an analgesic and antipyretic agent, and a decoction of the roots is used in the treatment of rheumatic pains, neurological pathologies, gout and boils.
Cosmetologists recommend using castor oil masks in the following cases:
- treatment of hair diseases (dandruff, hair loss, split ends, oily and dry hair);
- awakening of dormant bulbs of eyelashes, eyebrows and hair, which is effectively used in case of their weak growth;
- moisturizing the skin of the face, eliminating superficial wrinkles and age spots;
- brittle nails.
In industry, technical oil obtained from castor bean is used. It has the property of not hardening for a long time, therefore it is well suited for lubricating machine parts and machine tools.
Such a product is widely used in perfumery in the manufacture of hair oils and soaps, paint and varnish production and the food industry (fragrances).
What are Castor Beans
Castor bean seeds resemble large beans and contain 40-60% fatty oil, which is used to obtain castor oil. For this reason, they are also called castor beans.
Their color depends on the type of plant and can be gray, pink, brown or dark red. The composition of the seed kernel contains highly toxic substances such as ricin (5%) and ricinin (1%), which makes them poisonous if used ineptly.
The plant propagates only by seeds, which must be planted between the last days of March and mid-June. For this purpose, take plastic containers with a volume of 1 liter and fill up to half with earth, and then plant castor beans in a hole 1-2 cm deep.
To ensure rapid germination, it is preliminarily recommended to soak them overnight in a special agent that stimulates growth.
According to gardeners, this procedure is best done in mid-April, since the seeds sown at this time grow well and develop into a powerful bush. Of 10 pieces, no more than 6 usually germinate.
If after 3-4 days you do not notice the seedlings, then you must carefully remove the peel from the surface of the seeds with tweezers. You can also land directly into the ground. It should be remembered that the plant does not tolerate frost, so the procedure is best carried out in May.
They usually put 2-3 seeds in a hole. It is also necessary to ensure that the soil is thoroughly moistened.
Is ricin poisoning fatal?
The toxic effect of ricin on the body is not manifested when the seeds come into contact with the skin. In people with especially sensitive skin, in rare cases, allergic reactions are possible, which appear immediately after contact with an irritant.
Oral consumption of castor beans at a dosage of 0.003 mg per 1 kg of body weight is considered fatal. For children, this dose is contained in about 6 seeds, and for adults - 20.
Symptoms of poisoning appear after 15-24 hours. When the toxin vapors are inhaled, the clinical picture develops after 4-8 hours.
The consumption of pure seeds can lead to various pathological conditions:
violation of water and electrolyte balance;
- diarrhea with blood impurities;
- intestinal colic;
- dysfunction of the urinary system and liver. In the latter case, toxic hepatitis is diagnosed;
- insufficient production of insulin;
- a sharp decrease in blood pressure;
- gastrointestinal bleeding;
- hemorrhage in the retina;
- nausea and vomiting;
- a state of prostration.
In case of untimely seeking medical help after 6-8 days, a person's liver, kidneys and spleen fail, which becomes the cause of death.
The prognosis of the consequences of such poisoning is always unfavorable, since the survivor experiences irreversible destruction of tissue proteins, which causes irreparable damage to health.
If castor bean grows in your garden or it is an element of landscape design, then be sure to warn children and all acquaintances about the negative health effects of consuming seeds.
There are currently no antidotes against such a substance and it is impossible to cleanse the body of it, therefore, the treatment will last for a very long time, and at the end of it, the person will have to follow the strictest diet and be constantly under the supervision of doctors.
You will learn more about growing castor bean by watching the video: