Last update Dec. 8, 2022

Palma Christi

Limited compatibility

Unsafe. Moderate/severe adverse effects. Compatible under certain circumstances. Follow-up recommended. Use safer alternative or discontinue breastfeeding from 5 to 7 T ½ . Read Commentary.

The seeds of  Castor oil plant (Ricinus communis) contain 50% oil. In the oil there are unsaturated 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. 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 galactagogue is frequent and at demand breastfeeding with correct technique in a self-confident mother (ACOG 2021, ABM 2018, Mannion 2012, Forinash 2012).

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.

This plant has been withdrawn or restricted from the market in Spain. (MSC 2004).

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


  • Docusate (Safe substance and/or breastfeeding is the best option.)
  • Lactulose (Safe substance and/or breastfeeding is the best option.)
  • Liquid Paraffin (Fairly safe. Mild or unlikely adverse effects. Compatible under certain circumstances. Follow-up recommended. Read Commentary.)

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

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.


Main tradenames from several countries containing Palma Christi in its composition:


Variable Value Unit
Molecular weight 932 daltons
Tmax 3 hours


  1. ACOG - American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Breastfeeding Challenges: ACOG Committee Opinion, Number 820. Obstet Gynecol. 2021 Feb 1;137(2):e42-e53. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  2. 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)
  3. Eglash A. Treatment of maternal hypergalactia. Breastfeed Med. 2014 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  4. 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
  5. Forinash AB, Yancey AM, Barnes KN, Myles TD. The use of galactogogues in the breastfeeding mother. Ann Pharmacother. 2012 Oct;46(10):1392-404. Abstract
  6. Mannion C, Mansell D. Breastfeeding self-efficacy and the use of prescription medication: a pilot study. Obstet Gynecol Int. 2012;2012:562704. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  7. 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
  8. 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)
  9. 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)
  10. 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)
  11. 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)
  12. Hardy ML. Herbs of special interest to women. J Am Pharm Assoc (Wash). 2000 Abstract
  13. 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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