A Haitian Treasure: Castor Oil (L'huile Palma Christi/Mascreti)

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Castor oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the castor bean (technically castor seed as the castor plant), Ricinus communis. Castor oil is a colorless to very pale yellow liquid with mild or no odor or taste. It is a triglyceride in which approximately 90 percent of fatty acid chains are ricinoleic acid.
If you are Haitian/Haitian-American, you may have grown up calling castor oil, l'huile palma christi, l'huile mascreti, or like me and my cousins...stinky oil! By no means did we mean any offense by this-it's just has a very strong smell..

Growing up, my mother would rub this on my head when I had a headache, my throat when I had a sore throat, my knee when I broke my knee, my scalp for my hair get the gist.
And always worked. Nope, no exceptions. It's liquid magic y'all.

It wasn't until I chopped my hair off a few years ago, went natural/organic, and started experimenting with different oils for hair and scalp treatments did I come across something called "castor oil".  I was looking at one of my top favorite hair blogs, Curly Nikki, which is where I came across information about this oil.  I ran to Youtube to see if one my resident hair gurus could support this claim - check! I did some geographical research and found that it was especially popular in the Carribean...specifically in Jamaica...and also in...Haiti.  *Cue angels singing*. 

I ran to my mom to tell her about what I discovered. After talking a little bit more about this oil, she made me realize that it was our beloved l'huile mascreti. And lemme tell you something- every in Haiti or Diaspora surely has AT LEAST 2 bottles of this oil sitting in their cabinet....specifically wrapped in some type of bottle...with a brownish tape wrapping its permitter....sitting in their bathroom sink... right next to other hair greases. Yesssss hunny, it's that serious.

I even took a bottle to college...and when it ran that my other Haitian friends had some to spare. Let's just say from that point on, I've been using this oil for various hair and skin concoctions and I never ever ever have to worry about it running out. It's always there.
I want to add that even though Jamaican Black Castor Oil, otherwise known as "JBCO" in the natural hair community is the most talked about form of castor oil, it in fact is the same as Haitian Castor oil in the sense that is derived from the same Castor beans.  The main difference between the two oils is the level of refinement. But TRUST that Haitian castor oil is the business and is just as good (if not better) than the other ones! Haitian pride baby!

You can find castor oil at local beauty supply stores, health food stores, online retailers (such as Amazon or Kreyol Essence), and in your grandma's cabinet. ;)

See below for some of the health benefits of Castor oil described here.

Castor Oil has been used both internally and externally for thousands of years due to its many wonderful health benefits. Since it can strengthen the immune system, Castor Oil is considered a great remedy to treat the following major illness and ailments:
  • General inflammation
  • Pain From Arthritis and Rheumatism
  • Hair Loss
It has also been found to help with many everyday problems such as:
  • Age Spots (Liver Spots)
  • Muscle Aches
  • Migraines
  • Sunburns
  • Skin Abrasions
  • Stretch Marks
Castor oil does the following:
  • Promotes Hair Growth
  • Moisturizes Skin
  • Reduces inflammation

Directions for use:

For use as a Hair Growth Grease: 
Apply directly to hair from tips of hair to roots. Leave on as a grease. Repeat weekly for best results.
For use as Hot Oil Hair Treatment:
Simply warm up castor oil in a small cup or bowl. Warm up a sufficient amount that is enough to cover entire hair. After applying cover with a cap and sit for 30min. Repeat weekly for best results.

For use as Eyebrow/Eyelash Growth:
Apply directly onto eyelashes or eyebrows. Leave on. Repeat daily. Amazing results should be obtained after 1 month.
For use as a Skin Moisturizer & to Eliminate Stretch Marks:
Apply an ample amount directly onto area of skin and massage. Leave on. Do not rinse. Can be repeated daily or as desired.

Please dish on your experiences with castor oil!

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The "Haitian Treasures" series explores the magnificent benefits and uses of Haiti's natural resources, which I call "Haitian Treasures" because they are truly national gems.  Naïka in Balance is the premiere source for information on healing herbs used by Haitians. In this series, I explore the tie between Haiti's natural resources and natural, traditional, and holistic healing.

Learn about other Haitian Treasures explored on this blog here!

The two most popular Haitian Treasures on this blog are:

Castor oil/l'huile palma christi
Wonder of the world plant/fey lougawou

Naika, the writer of this blog, has a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and a Masters of Science in Acupuncture as of June 2017. Please do not take the information presented on this blog, as medical advice, without consulting your certified health care practitioner. Knowledge is power and your health is your wealth!