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

Castor oilRicinus communis, is a vegetable oil obtained from the castor bean. 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 Haitian castor oil, l'huile palma christi, l'huile mascreti, or like me and my cousins...stinky oil thanks to its characteristic 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 sprained my knee, my scalp for hair get the gist. And always worked every single time.

It wasn't until I changed my lifestyle in my early adulthood that I come across something called "castor oil".  Castor oil kept popping up in my searches, so I decided to look into it even more. I found that it was especially popular in the Caribbean, specifically in Jamaica, and also in my beloved motherland, Haiti.

I ran to my mom to tell her about what I discovered. After talking a little bit more about this oil, she helped me realize that castor oil was none other than our beloved l'huile mascreti. I remember feeling so happy and proud.

Castor oil has such significance in Haitian culture. Every Haitian living in Haiti or the diaspora surely has at least 2 bottles of this oil sitting in their cabinet, probably with a brownish tape wrapping its permitter, in their bathroom sink, right next to their other bath products. Castor oil is always in our homes.
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 is in fact, 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. You can find castor oil at local beauty supply stores, health food stores, online retailers.

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
  • Arthritis-related pains
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle Aches
  • Sunburns
  • Skin Abrasions
Suggested Use:
For hair growth: Apply directly to hair from root to tip. Leave on as a grease. Repeat weekly for best results.
For use as a hot oil hair treatment: Simply warm up castor oil in a small cup or bowl. Apply enough castor oil to cover all your hair on your head. Place a heating cap on your head and sit for 30min. Repeat weekly or biweekly for best results.
For use as Eyebrow/Eyelash Growth: Apply directly onto your eyelashes or eyebrows. Leave on. Repeat daily. You can expect a change in growth in about one month, with regular use.
For use as a Skin Moisturizer & to Eliminate Stretch Marks: Apply an ample amount directly onto desired area of skin and massage. Leave on. Do not rinse. Can be repeated daily or as desired.

In health,
Dr. Naika

The "Haitian Treasures" series was created by Dr. Naika over in 2012. This series explores the magnificent benefits and uses of Haiti's natural resources, which Dr. Naika calls "Haitian Treasures". In this series, Dr. Naika explores the tie between Haiti's natural resources and natural, traditional, and holistic healing.

This blog post was originally posted on Dr. Naika's lifestyle blog, Naika in Balance. Dr. Naika's work is copyrighted. Please do not copy or repost Dr. Naika's work without citing her content as the original source.