Last update Jan. 4, 2020

Castor Oil

High Risk

Poorly safe. Evaluate carefully. Use safer alternative or interrupt breastfeeding 3 to 7 T ½ (elimination half-lives). Read the Comment.

The seeds contain 50% oil. In the oil there are established fatty acids such as ricinoleic (90%), linoleic, oleic, linolenic and palmitic.
In the seeds there is ricin, a substance that can cause a very serious poisoning. Withdrawal or restricted from the market in Spain (MSC 2004).
Castor oil is orally used as a laxative and topically as an anti-inflammatory medicine on the skin. It appears as excipient in several dermatological and cosmetic preparations.

At latest update relevant published data on excretion into breast milk were not found.

The ricinoleic acid is an irritant of the intestinal mucosa where it is readily absorbed, being able to appear in the milk. It is highly recommended to use a safer laxative while breastfeeding.

Castor oil, either orally (Winterfeld 2012) or topically applied on the breast (Rasiya 2011), has been used as a galactogogue without any proof on effectiveness. On the other hand, it has also been allegedly used to reduce milk production (Hardy 2000, Eglash 2014 ).
The best galactogogue-like results are attained through a frequent and on demand breastfeeding along with a correct technique (ABM 2011).

In some cultures castor oil is administered instead of colostrum to infants in the first few days of life (Benakappa 1989), being this a risky practice, since diarrhea, dehydration, insomnia and tremor can occur.

Topical use on the skin is not contraindicated during lactation, provided it is not applied on the breast and areas where the infant can touch and absorb it are avoided.


  • Docusate ( Safe. Compatible. Minimal risk for breastfeeding and infant.)
  • Lactulose ( Safe. Compatible. Minimal risk for breastfeeding and infant.)
  • Liquid Paraffin (Moderately safe. Probably compatible. Mild risk possible. Follow up recommended. Read the Comment.)

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

Other names

Castor Oil is also known as

Castor Oil in other languages or writings:


Main tradenames from several countries containing Castor Oil in its composition:


Variable Value Unit
Molecular weight 932 daltons
Tmax 3 hours


  1. ABM: Brodribb W. ABM Clinical Protocol #9: Use of Galactogogues in Initiating or Augmenting Maternal Milk Production, Second Revision 2018. Breastfeed Med. 2018 Jun;13(5):307-314 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  2. Eglash A. Treatment of maternal hypergalactia. Breastfeed Med. 2014 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  3. Winterfeld U, Meyer Y, Panchaud A, Einarson A. Management of deficient lactation in Switzerland and Canada: a survey of midwives' current practices. Breastfeed Med. 2012 Aug;7:317-8. Abstract
  4. ABM. Academy Of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee. ABM Clinical Protocol #9: Use of galactogogues in initiating or augmenting the rate of maternal milk secretion (First Revision January 2011). Breastfeed Med. 2011 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  5. ABM. Comité de Protocolos de la Academia Médica de Lactancia Materna. ABM Protocolo Clínico #9: Uso de Galactogogos para Iniciar o aumentar la tasa de secreción de Leche Materna. Breastfeed Med. 2011 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  6. Rasiya Beegam A, Nayar TS. Plants used for natal healthcare in folk medicine of Kerala, India. Indian J Tradit Knowl. 2011;10:523-7. 2011
  7. Mahadevan U, Kane S. American gastroenterological association institute technical review on the use of gastrointestinal medications in pregnancy. Gastroenterology. 2006 Jul;131(1):283-311. Review. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  8. MSC - Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo de España. ORDEN SCO/190/2004, de 28 de enero, por la que se establece la lista de plantas cuya venta al público queda prohibida o restringida por razón de su toxicidad. BOE 2004; 32:5061-6065 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  9. Hardy ML. Herbs of special interest to women. J Am Pharm Assoc (Wash). 2000 Abstract
  10. Benakappa DG, Raju M, Shivananda, Benakappa AD. Breast-feeding practices in rural Karnataka (India) with special reference to lactation failure. Acta Paediatr Jpn. 1989 Abstract

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