As you know, I’m currently on the Hairlista Castor Oil Challenge to accelerate the growth and thickness of my hair. Having used JBCO for the last 3 months and seeing the amazing results, I am a believer in it’s usefulness. However, I couldn’t help wondering why castor oil is so effective. Knowledge is power people and the truth will set us free!
Spurned on by the same conversation which led to my previous post on moisturising, my sister did some research on Castor oil. Now I’ve mentioned her before but I have to give a big shout out to my big sis. She’s one of my biggest supporters and constantly challenges me to to do and be better. She is also on a healthy hair journey and is currently rocking a groovy head of natural hair. One of these days I will do a feature on her so you guys can really get to meet her. Anyhows, below is what she found and it really goes a long way to explaining why Castor oil is so darn good.
Castor oil is a triglyceride in which approximately ninety percent of fatty acid chains are ricinoleic acid. Oleic and linoleic acids are the other significant components.
Average composition of Castor seed oil / fatty acid chains:
Acid name Average Percentage Range
Ricinoleic acid 85% – 95%
Oleic acid 2% – 6%
Linoleic acid 1% – 5%
Linolenic acid 0.5% – 1%
Stearic acid 0.5% – 1%
Palmitic acid 0.5 % – 1%
Dihydroxystearic acid 0.3% – 0.5%
Others 0.2% – 0.5%
Ricinoleic acid is a poly-unsaturated omega-9 fatty acid.
Oleic acid is a mono-unsaturated omega-9 fatty acid.
Linoleic acid (LA) is a poly-unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid. It is also one of the only two essential fatty acids that you must eat as the body is unable to produce it naturally. A lack of Linoleic acid and other omega-6 fatty acids in the diet can cause dry hair, hair loss, and poor wound healing.
With regards to the difference between saturated and unsaturated; without getting too technical, the more unsaturated the fat is, the more things the body can do with it. So a poly-unsaturated fatty acid is the best and is always found in liquid form regardless of temperature.
Functions of fatty acids in the body:
1. For energy (but any excess is stored as fat)
2. To produce hormone-like substances called prostaglandins that regulate a wide range of functions, including blood pressure, blood clotting, blood lipid levels, the immune response, and the inflammation response to wound infection.
3. All cell membranes contain two fatty acid molecules and other fats as part of their structure.
4. For protein modification and to make nerve tissue
5. Omega fatty acids affect cell growth by activating an enzyme called sphingomyelinase, which then generates the release of ceramides.
So in conclusion fatty acids are absolutely necessary for the body to make more cells. Each hair strand has its own nerve and the body has to rearrange amino acids to make keratin which is what hair is made of. Castor oil is nearly 100% poly unsaturated fatty acid and most importantly, able to penetrate the skin and enter tissue. When you apply Castor oil to your scalp, you provide your body with a localised supply of energy and cell building blocks right at the site of hair production. Your body is able to make more hair cells (which are keratinized and eventually become hair) as it does not have to borrow from your dietary supply of fatty acids. This in turn makes your hair thicker and longer (assuming you also eat enough protein!). In short, Castor oil is like hair fuel!!!!
It is important to note that no matter how abundant the nutrient supply, the body is limited by its genetic code in terms of what it will do. Good hair nutrition will give you the optimum results obtainable for your genetic make-up.
In Comparison, Coconut oil contains approximately 92.1% saturated fatty acids, 6.2% mono-unsaturated fatty acids and only 1.6% poly-unsaturated fatty acids. Whilst it is still able to penetrate the hair shaft and do wonderful things for your hair, increasing growth isn’t a major component (for me at any rate). Interestingly, the lack of poly-unsaturates is also why coconut oil hardens in colder temperatures.