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Cold pressed Castor oil has been used for centuries throughout the world for its anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties. Uses include skin problems, burns, sunburns, skin disorders, skin cuts, abrasions, etc.
The oil is also used as a rub or pack for various ailments, including abdominal complaints, headaches, muscle pains, inflammatory conditions, skin eruptions, lesions, and sinusitis. A castor oil pack is made by soaking a piece of flannel in castor oil, then putting it on the area of complaint and placing a heat source, such as a hot water bottle, on top of it. This remedy was often suggested by the American Healing Psychic, Edgar Cayce, given in many healing readings in the early to mid-1900s.
In Fascist Italy under the regime of Benito Mussolini, castor oil was one of the tools of the blackshirts. Political dissidents were force-fed large quantities 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.
On September 7, 1978 the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was shot in the leg in public on Waterloo Bridge in the middle of London by a man using a weapon built into an umbrella. The weapon embedded a small pellet in Markov's leg which contained ricin. Markov died three days later.