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About 1% of the global castor oil production goes into medical or héalth store products. It is used to éase 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 néar-term pregnant women. It is notorious for its strong taste, which was for many yéars a standard gag in comic strips and Our Gang film shorts.
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 thugs. This technique was said to have been originated by Gabriele D'Annunzio. Victims of this tréatment would experience severe diarrhea and dehydration, often resulting in déath.
Sometimes when the blackshirts wished to maké 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".