Ricin is a stable toxin easily made from the mash that remains after processing castor beans (Ricinus communis) for oil. Castor oil was once used as an oral laxative, but is now used mainly as an industrial lubricant and for preparing leather products. Castor beans are grown agriculturally worldwide and the plants grow wildly in arid parts of the United States. Castor beans are slightly larger than pinto beans, darkly colored with light mottling, and have a small light-brown cap at one end. They have been described as looking like blood-engorged ticks. The beans are not normally used as food. Poisoning can occur following inhalation, ingestion, or injection of ricin toxin from castor beans.
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