Q. My mother-in-law uses castor oil for bruises. At Christmas, my sister-in-law sat down in a very heavy old rocker-recliner chair. It went crashing to the floor, and one corner landed right on top of my mother-in-law's foot.
My sister-in-law was dazed and took a moment to get up, which meant my mother-in-law's foot was trapped under the chair for a few seconds. She was screaming!
We all urged my mother-in-law to go to the hospital to make sure no bones in her foot were broken, but she refused. Instead she slathered the top of her foot with a generous amount of castor oil. She said that castor oil applied immediately to a bump reduces swelling and prevents bruising.
I didn’t believe it until the next day when I saw that her foot was fine! I don't advocate castor oil for serious injuries, and I do think my mother-in-law should have had her foot X-rayed, but for minor accidents, it works great!
A. Castor oil contains ricinoleic acid. This compound has both pro- and anti-inflammatory effects (European Journal of Pharmacology, Oct. 27, 2000). Regular topical use seems to improve pain tolerance, but no one has studied an anti-bruising effect.