Castor bean

Code: k71
Latin name: Ricinus communis
Source material: Seed
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Due to the toxicity of castor beans the use of skin tests is not recommended (8).

Allergen Exposure

Castor bean plant, Ricinus communis, is known to have several components with allergenic and/ or toxic properties. Castor bean meal is used as a fertilizer. The oil is known for its effect on intestinal peristalsis. Allergy to the pollen of this plant has also been reported (1, 2). Inhalation allergy to castor bean dust has mostly been reported from occupational settings (agricultural industry (3), docks, castor oil mills and coffee roasteries (4-8)).
 
It is common to all the warm regions of the world.

Potential Cross-Reactivity

Cross-reactivity with Putranjiva roxburghii pollen has been reported (10). This tree, the Indian amulet tree, belongs to the same family as the Castor bean and is one of the commonest pollen allergen sources in India.

Clinical Experience

Inhalation allergy to castor bean dust has mostly been reported from occupational settings (agricultural industry (3), docks, castor oil mills and coffee roasteries (4-8)). One employee in a company importing, preparing and distributing plant products showed a positive specific IgE result to castor bean (9). The explanation would be that the sacks used for delivery of the products, e.g. coffee beans and plant products, were contaminated with remnants from earlier contents of castor beans (7-9). Epidemics of asthma have been described among citizens in areas where castor oil mills are in operation (7).
 
Review
Castor bean plant, Ricinus communis, belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae. It is common to all the warm regions of the world. The plant is known to have several components with allergenic and/or toxic properties. Castor bean meal is used as a fertilizer. The oil is known for its effect on intestinal peristalsis.

Allergy to the pollen of this plant has also been reported (1, 2).

Inhalation allergy to castor bean dust has mostly been reported from occupational settings (agricultural industry (3), docks, castor oil mills and coffee roasteries (4-8)). One employee in a company importing, preparing and distributing plant products showed a positive specific IgE result to castor bean (9). The explanation would be that the sacks used for delivery of the products, e.g. coffee beans and plant products, were contaminated with remnants from earlier contents of castor beans (7-9).

Epidemics of asthma have been described among citizens in areas where castor oil mills are in operation (7).

Due to the toxicity of castor beans the use of skin tests is not recommended (8).

Cross-reactivity with Putranjiva roxburghii pollen has been reported (10). This tree, the Indian amulet tree, belongs to the same family as the Castor bean and is one of the commonest pollen allergen sources in India.

References

  1. Singh, A. Panzani, R C, Singh A B. Specific IgE to castor bean (Ricinus communis) pollen in the sera of clinically sensitive patients to seeds. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 1997;7(3):169-74.
  2. Garcia-Gonzalez, et al. Pollinosis to Ricinus communis (castor bean): an aerobiological, clinical and immunochemical study. Clin Exp Allergy 1999;29(9):1265-75.
  3. Baur, X. Chen, Z. Hurter, T. Asthma and rhinoconjuctivitis caused by castor bean dust. Pneumologie 1998 Oct;52 (10):539-40.
  4. Romano, et al. Factors related to the development of sensitization to green coffee and castor bean allergens among coffee workers. Clin Exp Allergy 1995;25:643-50.
  5. Panzani, et al. Screening for atopy in a coffee processing factory. Allergol Immunopathol Jan-Feb;23(1):29-34.
  6. Karr, R M. Lehrer, S B. Butcher, B T. Salvaggio, J E. Coffee worker´s asthma: a clinical appraisal using the radioallergosorbent test. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1978;62:143-8.
  7. Panzani, R C. Falagiani, P. Riva, G. Mercier, P. Delord. Screening for IgE mediated allergy among people working in the Marseilles harbour. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr) 1993;21(1):25-9.
  8. Kanerva, L. Estlander, T. Jolanki, R. Long-lasting contact urticaria from castor bean. J Am Acad Dermatol 1990;23:351-5.
  9. Gohte, C J, Wieslander, G. Ancker, K. Forsbeck, M. Buckwheat allergy: health food, an inhalation health risk. Allergy 1983;38 (3):155-9.
  10. Singh, et al. Immunobiochemical characterization of Putranjiva roxburghii pollen extract and cross-reactivity with Ricinus communis. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 1997;114(3):251-7.

As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.