Castor plant, castor oil plant or palma Christi belongs to the plant family Euphorbiaceae.
In Nigeria, it is called hurua, in Arabic-Shuwa, ameru in Bura, eraogi in Edo, etigi unene (Igbo’s okra) in Efik, kolalolaaji or derre in Fulfulde, cìkà-cídàà, cìkà-gídàà in Hausa; ájonggo in Idoma, ògìlì, ògìrì (the seeds) or ogili ugba in Igbo, kpamfini gulu (vulture’s okra) in Nupe, harev or masev (the plant itself) in Tiv and eso lárà (the fruit or seeds) in Yoruba.
Before now, the use of the seeds of Castor plant as oral contraceptive has been documented. Although the exact variety of the seeds used is not always reported, it is known that four to five seeds of the plant in India are orally taken with water during menstrual period to prevent conception for a period of one year.
It has also been the practice that in the Middle Belt of Nigeria, traditional healers administer to women three seeds of the variety minor as contraceptive for duration of 12 months. Nigerian researchers have indicated that these seeds have significant contraceptive efficacy, with minimal side effects.
However, Nigerian researchers at the Chemistry Department, Kano State College of Arts, Science and Remedial Studies, and Department of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria have validated the traditional use of the seeds of Ricinus communis as oral contraceptive.