To take castor oil

Castor oil was one of those things that was supposed to be good for just about everything. Household Hints says it should be used when “irritating substances, such as undigested food, foreign bodies, and micro-organisms remain in the intestinal tract”. The Modern Household Encyclopedia says that it “imparts a toned up look to the face if rubbed around the eyes and mouth lines”, and recommends keeping some in your handbag for a quick refresher.

Enquire Within Upon Everything, which was published in 1890, recommends it as both a laxative and a remedy for diarrhea and dysentery, and also suggests mixing it with lemons and applying it topically as a treatment for leprosy.

Close up colour picture of the label on a bottle of castor oil. The oil is light yellow, and the label is a rather darker yellow. Text: Castor Oil. The Modern Pharmacy Prescription Druggist, 141 Charlotte St Cor. Princess
Terry Lavigne – Flickr

What does seem to be agreed is that it was unpleasant to take, and you needed a method to help get it down. If the alum method doesn’t work, or if for some reason you don’t feel like ejecting saliva, Watkins Household Hints suggests this incredibly complicated method:

Hold a piece of ice in the mouth a few minutes. Make a sandwich of the oil and orange juice in a chilled glass. With a spoon, carefully add orange juice, then oil, then orange juice. Use a piece of ice or a bite of orange to follow.

Subscribe to Happy Family Happy Home

Don't miss out on any of this very helpful advice - get it delivered straight to your inbox instead.