Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Castor oil and its derivatives have major applications in the manufacturing of soaps, lubricants, hydraulic and brake fluids, paints, dyes, coatings , inks, cold resistant plastics, waxes and polishes, nylon, pharmaceuticals and perfumes.
About 1% of the global castor oil production goes into medical or health store products. It is used to ease constipation and as an emetic to induce vomiting. Consumption of large amounts of castor oil (below lethal doses, such as one bottle) can induce labor in near-term pregnant women. It is notorious for its strong taste, which was for many years a standard gag in comic strips and Our Gang film shorts .
Castor oil as a tool of political terror
In Fascist Italy under the regime of Benito Mussolini, castor oil was one of the tools of the blackshirts. Political dissidents would be force-fed large dosages of castor oil by Fascist paramilitary groups. This technique was said to have been originated by Gabriele D'Annunzio. Victims of this treatment would experience severe diarrhea and dehydration, often resulting in death.
Sometimes when the blackshirts wished to make sure that the victim would die rather than simply be badly disabled, they would mix gasoline with the castor oil.
It came to be said that Mussolini's power was backed by "the bludgeon and castor oil".
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