Check, Can Rubbing Castor Oil on Your Belly Button Actually Help With Digestion? - Reportgist

Check, Can Rubbing Castor Oil on Your Belly Button Actually Help With Digestion?

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Another day, another TikTok trend—and this one, surprisingly, revolves around your navel. Beyond the rare occasion of declaring if you have an innie or outie belly button, the bodily feature doesn’t get much exposure. And it seems the internet thought it needed some attention: If your FYP has led you to the “ hot girls with tummy issues” feed, chances are you’ve seen posts about the benefits of rubbing castor oil on your belly button to help with digestion.>>>CONTINUE FULL READING HERE

Huh? What? Why? Turns out, it’s a longtime folk remedy used in Caribbean countries to relieve constipation. And though the practice does have some history, it seems there aren’t a whole lot of scientifically-backed benefits.

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If, like us, you had the gut check to call a doctor before rubbing your tummy with the oil, you can hold the phone.Allurereached out to gastroenterologists to find out if this ancient practice is a myth or a miracle worker. Because as Supriya Rao, MD, a gastroenterologist and managing partner at Integrated Gastroenterology Consultants, emphasizes that you should not take medical advice from TikTok, ever.

Not likely. Rubbing your belly button—or the region—with castor oil has little to do with the castor oil, and more to do with the massage, according to Byron Cryer, MD, a gastroenterologist and chair & chief of Internal Medicine at Baylor University Medical Center. “Since very little of the castor oil applied topically is absorbed by the skin, any benefit for constipation is most likely the ‘rubbing’ motion, rather than any specific effect of topically applied castor oil itself,” says Dr. Cryer. “ Studies have shown that abdominal massage can relieve constipation by stimulating colonic movement, increasing the frequency of bowel movements, reducing abdominal discomfort, and relieving pain.”

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While there is no data to support the idea that rubbing castor oil on your belly button will aid in digestion, Rabia A. de Latour, MD, a double board-certified gastroenterologist and therapeutic endoscopist in New York City, believes in ancient remedies—like this one—ifthey pose no risk to the person. “Many ancient cultures subscribed to the concept that placing castor oil in the belly button would allow it to be absorbed and improve digestion and have anti-inflammatory properties,” says Dr. de Latour. “There is also the belief that a castor oil pack [more on that below] placed over the abdomen will have digestive health benefits for the gut and liver.” If a patient wants to try castor oil on their belly button and they have no medical concerns or allergies, Dr. de Latour says that it’s safe for laxative purposes.

If you really want to see—and feel—the effects of castor oil, consider taking it by mouth as a laxative (after consulting with your primary care physician first). “The FDA has approved the use of castor oil to help with digestion

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when taken orally, as castor oil does have laxative properties,” says Dr. Rao. Castor oil works by stimulating receptors in the GI tract that cause it to contract, which helps move GI contents along their way, according to Dr. Cryer.

When consumed orally—in a dose of as little as one-half tablespoon—castor oil can be effective for constipation. “It is usually taken during the day because, once swallowed, it works quickly,” explains Dr. Cryer. “It is generally safe for short-term use. In adults over 60, castor oil, if used for a long time, can make bowel problems worse by causing diarrhea.”

While taking castor oil by mouth can be safe in small quantities, sometimes it can cause nausea, cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, or interactions with other medications, according to Janese Laster

, MD, a gastroenterologist in private practice in Washington, DC. Additionally, castor oil can reduce the amount of potassium in your body when ingested. “It should not be used long-term,” she says. “If a patient has long-term, chronic constipation, they should be evaluated by a physician.”>>>CONTINUE FULL READING HERE

Castor oil is also commonly used in “castor oil packs,” which are typically pieces of wool that are doused in castor oil and placed over your liver for hours, or overnight. But there’s not much research behind the concept: “There is a small study from Turkey

that used castor oil packs—applied over a large area of the skin—in nursing home patients with long-term constipation that found no effect on the number of bowel movements or amount of feces,” explains David Clarke, MD, a double-board certified internal medicine physician and gastroenterologist and president of the Psychophysiologic Disorders Association. “However, there was a decrease in the feces consistency score [bowel movements were not as hard], in straining during defecation, and in the feeling of complete evacuation after a bowel movement.” But there was no control group in the study, so, as Dr. Clarke explains, these reported benefits might easily have been due to the placebo effect and not the castor oil pack.

Because of castor oil’s effect on lowering the body’s potassium levels, patients taking diuretics should avoid it. Additionally, medications that lower body potassium levels by increasing potassium excretion into the urine should also be avoided when taking castor oil orally, advises Dr. Cryer.

If there is a medical reason for constipation (such as partial obstruction of the bowel due to a tumor, scar tissue, or inflammation) castor oil can actually worsen symptoms from these conditions, according to Dr. Clarke. And, as Dr. Rao explains, there are more effective laxatives on the market that are safer, like bulk-forming fiber laxatives or stool softeners, so castor oil should not be a first-line treatment option.

One final concern: allergic reactions. If you apply the oil to your skin and notice itching, swelling, or rashes, these are telltale signs you may have an allergy to castor oil. “Test a small spot before you use it. If you get a significant skin reaction, like a bad rash, for example, stop using the product,” says Dr. Clarke. Additionally, “Castor oil can cause contractions of the uterus, and even though this is unlikely after small amounts applied to the skin, I would recommend avoiding applying to the stomach if pregnant.”

All this said, consider leaving the TikTok health advice behind and make a doctor’s appointment if you’re experiencing chronic constipation, as this could be a sign of a more serious condition. Many constipation treatments have been studied and proven to work effectively.>>>CONTINUE FULL READING HERE

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