Last update Dec. 8, 2022
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This plant has been withdrawn or restricted from the market in Spain.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.
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.
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e-lactancia is a resource recommended by Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine - 2012 of United States of America
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