Oral Castor Oil for Hair Loss?

Oral Castor Oil for Hair Loss Prevention?

Oral castor oil is something not thoroughly explored in the hair loss community, despite a significant amount of promising data backing its potential efficacy.

Typically, castor oil is topically applied.

In practical application, its effect on hair loss prevention topically seems to be minimal when it comes to dealing with androgenic alopecia as opposed to a skin condition.

To get adequate absorption through the scalp you would need to mix castor oil with DMSO, or keep it on your scalp almost all day.

And even with this, topical absorption is subpar relative to oral castor oil ingestion.

The component of castor oil that was found to potentially be hair protective is the Ricinoleic acid found within castor oil itself.

Ricinoleic acid induces formation of Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and acts as a potent agonist of EP3 and EP4 receptors [R, R].

In theory, this could help relieve hair follicle hypoxia by antagonizing the tissue constricting effects of Prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) in the scalp [R].

What is PGD2 and PGE2?

Without going too deep into the topic, PGD2 and PGE2 are physiologically active lipid compounds that are categorized as prostaglandins.

Prostaglandins exhibit diverse hormone-like properties and are found abundantly in human tissues, such as the organs.

At their most basic, PGD2 causes the constriction of tissues in the body, while PGE2 does the complete opposite by inducing tissue relaxation [R].

PGE2 and PGD2 more or less counterregulatory hormones of one another.

PGE2 Protection Against Radiation-induced Hair Loss

PGE2 was found to prevent radiation induced hair loss in a rodent model [R].

A study suggesting the protective nature of PGE2 against radiation which causes alopecia

Although it has not been tested on humans, the data suggests that a favorable ratio of PGE2 to PGD2 has significant hair protective benefits.

In cancer patients that would otherwise lose their hair, PGE2 has the potential to protect them from radiation-induced hair loss.

In theory, castor oil could potentially facilitate the same hair protective benefits.

PGE2 And Castor Oil To Induce Labor

PGE2 is commonly used to induce labor [R].

The mechanism by which it facilitates this is by relaxing smooth muscles, softening the cervix and causing uterine contractions.

Studies have noted that PGE2 is hair protective, and PGD2 inhibits hair growth [R].

Notably, castor oil is also used to induce labor [R].

Proof suggesting that consumption of oral castor oil induces labor

The ingestion of the Ricinoleic acid in castor oil induces formation of Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and acts as a potent agonist of EP3 and EP4 receptors, consequently facilitating the same labor induction effects of pure PGE2.

Another interesting thing to note is that, this belief is more than just conceptual.

It’s actually being deployed as a medical practice.

For example, if a woman desired to give birth on a specific date, they may be prescribed PGE2 in conjunction with a large dose of castor oil.

As for the dosage, women are given upwards of 4 tablespoons (60 mL) of castor oil for labor induction.

Castor Oil As A Laxative

Castor oil is most commonly used as a laxative.

It is a treatment for constipation, and works the same way it induces labor.

Smooth muscle relaxation helps alleviate constipation and encourage a bowel movement.

As a laxative, doses above 5 mL are commonly used, although many will assert that anything above a 2 mL daily dose will cause the same laxative effects.

Castor Oil and Hair Loss

So how castor oil is used against hair loss?

Understanding that the mechanism by which PGE2 works starts to shed some light on how the cascade of events leading to hair follicle miniaturization occurs.

PGE2 relaxes tissues in the body, hence why it works to induce labor and as a laxative, and also why it is also potentially hair protective.

It relaxes the tissue that would otherwise be constricting hair follicles and potentially causing follicular hypoxia.

For inducing labor, doses upwards of 60 mL of castor oil are used.

As a laxative, doses upwards of 5-15 mL of castor oil are used.

In a hair loss prevention context, doses of 0.5-2 mL of castor oil per day have proved to be sufficient, and it is theorized that 2 mL is where diminishing returns sets in.

The tolerability of castor oil consumption on a daily basis more or less boils down to digestion and gut health.

Right off the bat, one major complaint that some report with oral castor oil consumption to treat hair loss is that it causes an upset stomach.

I know guys who can handle upwards of 5 mL per day with no issues, and I know guys who can't even consume 0.5 mL per day without massive digestive stress.

This is a relatively obscure potential treatment, so proceed with caution.

There are not many studies we can refer to to assess its safety and tolerability when it comes to long-term usage, as this is ultimately what we would be interested in in a hair loss prevention capacity.

Data outlining its tolerability as a laxative shed light on its safety in the short term, but for daily use at micro-doses for years on end, that remains to be seen.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization and World Health Organization, up to 0.7 mg/kg of castor oil orally per day is safe for men [R].

Oral castor oil is also generally recognized as safe and effective for use as a stimulant laxative by the FDA [R].

Mega Dosage of Castor Oil and Its Effect on Hair Growth

One of my close friends started taking 5 mL per day for beard growth.

While he's not particularly concerned with hair loss prevention, the results he reports are still useful to reference as the mechanism by which beard hair growth is facilitated is not different than on the scalp, it just doesn't have a cascade of hypoxia triggering factors causing miniaturization like on the scalp via androgens.

A chat with a friend talking about his claim about oral castor oil and its benefit to beard growth

This friend of mine, who was the subject of his own experiment, noticed a positive result in just a couple weeks.

The sides of his beard had become significantly less patchy, his beard had become thicker in general, he had grown hairs in areas which did not have any hair growth before, and his beard is now darker as well.

It should be noted that I don't recommend using this high of a dose, but it is insightful to reference his results at 5 mL nonetheless.

Minoxidil And Oral Castor Oil As Growth Agonists

Minoxidil is commonly used to increase beard hair growth.

If something works to increase beard hair growth, you can logically conclude it would likely have a similar effect on the scalp as a growth agonist.

Hypertrichosis as an adverse effect of the intake of oral castor oil

Proof solidifying the claim that oral castor oil causes a Minoxidil-like side-effect, hypertrichosis

For those who did not know, one of Minoxidil’s side effects is hair growth everywhere in the body [R, R].

This isn't common with topical Minoxidil as it more or less stays localized to its area of application and only is partially systemically absorbed, but with oral Minoxidil (Loniten) hair growth everywhere is reported in almost all users.

Oral castor oil seems to facilitate this systemic increase in hair growth, but without the negative cardiovascular effects that Minoxidil is associated with.

The reason why is that both of these compounds increase circulation to the scalp, thereby alleviating the follicular miniaturization occurring in the tissue.

Ultimately, these are both just bandaids for the root of the issue (endogenous androgens), but at the end of the day, the more tissue relaxation and circulation you can promote the better for antagonizing the constricting effects triggered by androgenic hormones in the body.

The mechanism by which they accomplish this likely differ, as Minoxidil mainly works by opening up the potassium channels in the body, while oral castor oil works by inducing the formation of PGE2 and acting on the some of the same receptors as PGE2.

However, Minoxidil's mechanism of action isn't fully understood either, and a lot of the data actually suggests that it doesn't just work by opening up the potassium channels more, but it also may have an anti-androgen like effect, and it may even be a PGE2 agonist in itself too [R, R].

Known Factors of Hair Loss

While nobody definitively knows what the full cascade of events is in the body that lead to follicular miniaturization, it seems that androgens are a catalyst for scalp tissue changes that ultimately lead to poor circulation and cumulative hypoxia.

Ultimately, poor circulation and the presence of androgens go hand in hand, and interventions that increase scalp tissue circulation all seem to have positive effects on hair growth.

Hence, the most effective treatments for staving off further miniaturization would include compounds that antagonize the effects of androgens either at the androgen receptor itself, or systemically.

My View On Oral Castor Oil For Hair Loss Prevention

Some reputable sites seem to deem that castor oil is safe to consume long-term [R].

However, I am still wary of any potential long-term ramifications it could have on gut health in particular, and will proceed with caution.

Its potential efficacy is promising, as it evidently has a profound antagonizing effect against the tissue-constricting effects of PGD2, and is seen in the medical community as one of the go to agents to facilitate this.

Anecdotally, it seems to be one of the most promising growth agonists in a hair loss prevention context with a fairly low risk profile.

I will be experimenting with 1 mL per day myself, and will make a judgment after I've given it a fair chance as to whether or not I think it holds its own to justify its use in a hair loss prevention capacity for most men.

Is PGE2 More Effective Than Castor Oil?

We already know that the way castor oil facilitates its potential benefits in a hair loss prevention context is via the formation of PGE2 and activation of some of the same receptors as PGE2.

So if that is the case, then why don't we just apply PGE2 to our heads and be done with it?

Well, in practical application, while it seems to have some positive effect, it isn't enough to stave off androgenic alopecia.

However, it certainly doesn't hurt, and many individuals I know have noted that oral castor oil gave them better results than topical application of pure PGE2.

The problem with straight PGE2 is that PGE2 dosages are extremely small and measured in micrograms, making it very difficult to make an accurately dosed solution that doesn't overload your scalp with excessive PGE2, and the potential ramifications of that are unknown.

PGE2 is also cost prohibitive, whereas castor oil is dirt cheap, seems to facilitate much of the same effects at a fraction of the price, and there is a lot of data supporting the safety of the consumption of castor oil at dosages far exceeding what someone would consume in a hair loss prevention context.

Consuming a small dose of ricinoleic acid as a precursor to PGE2 also gives your body a chance to regulate how much PGE2 is formed, whereas with straight PGE2 application you are forcing your body to deal with a giant hit of PGE2.

The potential contraindications of PGE2 use are worrying as well, as it is directly tied to the promotion of cancerous tumour growth [R].

Where To Buy Food Grade Castor Oil

You want to buy 100% castor oil, not Jamaican black castor oil.

It's clear and a pale yellow color.

Food/Pharma grade (USP or BP) is ideal as it ensures a high enough standardization of Ricinoleic acid.

Ricinoleic acid is the component of castor oil that boosts PGE2 and we care about.

NOW Solutions Castor Oil is third party tested and meets our criteria for a high quality Castor Oil, and is also what I use personally.

NOW Foods Castor Oil

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24 thoughts on “Oral Castor Oil for Hair Loss Prevention?”

  1. Derek, what is your experience with OC000459? Is it effective? What’s the best dosage, concentration, application and vehicle? Also what’s the best source for it? Please respond Thanks man

    1. Better than Seti in my experience. Also far easier to mix in a standard Ethanol based vehicle. I got it from Kane. Standard 70/30 Eth/PG vehicle, 1% strength (10 mg/mL). Dosage depends on your tolerance. Some guys can’t sleep at all when they use it.

  2. What would you use for PGD2 inhbition? I heard Sulfasalazine (Decreases endogenous PGD2 production, increases endogenous PGE2 production), Vitamin E,
    and Castor Oil would be a good “Ghetto protocol”.

  3. For people starting to thin, the obvious first step is to prevent further miniaturization by tackling androgens at the scalp level. When I read this article, I feel like you’re approaching castor oil as less of a growth promoter like minoxidil (which does nothing to inhibit androgen receptor binding and leaves the heart of the problem unsolved) and more of a way to disrupt the chain of events that happen once an androgen is bound to the receptor. Is this correct? I will be trying this for myself, but since it’s been about a month since you’ve started, what are your thoughts? Do you think oral castor oil is enough to disrupt the pathway of miniaturization caused by androgens if you’ve caught your balding in an early stage? Or does it behave like minoxidil and just offset the miniaturization by promoting growth of new drug dependent follicles?

    1. No. It’s a growth agonist. It’s not the meat and potatoes (what you’d use to combat androgen induced miniaturization).

      1. Thanks for your response, seems I misunderstood. For a guy who wants to maintain masculinity (I don’t run sarms or anabolics, just natural lifting for context) what is my best bet to combat androgen induced miniaturization? I tried finasteride and noticed immediate reduction in semen and felt kind of dull and numb overall. I’ve been off of it for months now. I don’t like the idea of of crushing my hormones systemically. With that said, what is my best bet since I caught my balding relatively early? I feel like the answer is some type of topical anti androgen. But none of the current available options seem super appealing. I agree with you regarding the efficacy of CB-03-01, I don’t think it will be a long term maintenance option. I read lots of reports of chest pain and blurry vision with RU58841 that scare me, and the efficacy is still kind of hit and miss there as well. There’s tons of other topical anti androgens I’ve read, but almost all of them are pretty much guaranteed to cause systemic problems. CB and RU seem like the closest thing we have to side effect free options, or am I missing something?

        Basically what I am asking is in your opinion what treatment do you currently think is best to combat androgens long term with minimal sides for someone in their early 20s? Is RU still king?

        1. If you’re not willing to manipulate your hormone profile at all endogenously, and you’re not willing to use topical anti-androgens, then you need to start looking at other pathways. One pathway for example is PGD2 inhibition topically or orally (starting with topical would be less risky of course). Is it as effective as just combatting androgens at the root of the issue? Not from what I’ve seen so far. But it’s definitely worth looking at in your case with your limited scope of options. Setipiprant, OC000459, or Fevipiprant. All very cost prohibitive options unfortunately, but there is recent safety data for you to reference. With all that being said, I still think a topical anti-androgen like CB would be a good start for you for a foundation of protection. There are other things you can stack on top of it after assessing how you respond to that for a more multimodal protocol. Oral castor oil is also a no brainer for me personally based on the safety data, cost, efficacy, etc. I’ll post an update on oral castor oil soon. Even if you’re just improving your growth, anything you can do to offset that loss of density still helps cosmetically.

          1. I am not willing to endogenously manipulate my hormones, however, I am not opposed to using topical anti-androgens if the side effect profile is tolerable and the efficacy is strong.

            Regarding CB-03-01, what do you think is the explanation for the massive drop in efficacy between the 6 month trial data and the 1 year trial data? Tolerance build up or maybe up-regulation? Nearly all dosing groups returned to baseline, and one can imagine if the study was ran for an extra 6 months they would all be below baseline? I really want to try this treatment but for price I don’t want to be below baseline in just 12 months.

            Regarding RU58841, do you imagine it would be safe to run long term, from early 20s until I die of old age? I know we don’t have solid saftey data and we are playing a guessing game but I am curious on your opinion. Also, do you think it’s strong enough to keep people at baseline long term when used as a monothearpy? The other thing I’m concerned about is androgen receptor up-regulation. Like, if I end up trying RU and quit after 2 years, would I then be dealing with a scalp full of unregulated hyper-sensitive androgen receptors causing greater loss than I would have naturally had? If we don’t have any concrete data on this, I would still be curious to hear your guess.

            Regarding the PGD2 pathway, in the article posted above, you mention that castor oil has a potential antagonizing effect against PGD2. Wouldn’t that mean it fits into this category of trying to solve the problem through PGD2 to some extent, instead of being strictly a growth promoter? Wouldn’t castor oils effect of PGD2/PGE2 be disruptive to the miniaturization process, and therefore kinda tackling the androgen problems? I don’t know, I think I’m wrong on that one based on your last reply. As far as the other compounds, Seti was sadly recently dropped from clinical trial pipeline after the underwhelming clinical trial data. Fevi is still in the pipeline, but not being tested for hairloss, just asthma I think. I agree with you that the PGD2/PGE2 angle is not as effective as targeting androgens, which is why I’m starting to lean towards a topical anti-androgen. There just doesn’t seem to be an easy “no brainer” choice when it comes to which compound to run, or is there?

            And big thanks for the quick replies. It means a lot that you are able to give educated insight into all of this. I’ve tried posting on the different hairloss forums and it’s hard to find a single person who really knows their stuff. I will eagerly be awaiting your castor oil update and your future articles/videos.

  4. A section on how to optimally take castor oil could be helpful (if it matters).

    Does it matter if I take castor oil with food, or should it only be taken on an empty stomach? If I’m taking 2 ml, should I take the dose all at once, or in two 1 ml doses spread throughout the day? Should I apply my minoxidil alongside the ingestion of castor oil so that they are working simultaneously, or does it not matter if they are in effect at different times of the day?


  5. Hi the link to the bottle of Caster Oil states its for topical “external use” only and not for oral. Would dosage (ml/d and mg/kg) would need to be applied topically to have the same impact as systemic use?

  6. As always, great article!
    Derek, is there a reason why you recommend the “liquid oil” instead of castor oil in softgel capsules? As you probably know, NOW FOODS also propose this alternative. I have tried none of them but I imagine the pharmacology is the same and capsules are preferable in terms of taste and convenience.

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