Castor use while Breastfeeding
Medically reviewed on April 11, 2017
Castor Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding
Summary of Use during Lactation
Castor (Ricinus communis) beans contain triglycerides, mostly consisting of ricinoleic acid esters, and small amounts of the toxic ricin and ricine. Pressing of the beans produces castor oil and purification of the oil eliminates the ricin and ricine. Castor oil is a strong stimulant laxative. Castor beans as well as a homeopathic preparation of castor purportedly reduce milk flow, but it is also reportedly used as a galactagogue. A poultice of castor leaves is a purported galactogogue. In some parts of India, castor oil is also reportedly applied to the breasts to stimulate lactation. No scientifically valid clinical trials support either of these uses and some preparations may be toxic to the infant. Galactogogues should never replace evaluation and counseling on modifiable factors that affect milk production. No data exist on the excretion of any components of the castor plant or castor oil into breastmilk or on their safety and efficacy in nursing mothers or infants. However, little of the active ricinoleic acid is thought to be absorbed from the intestine. Because of a lack of information, other laxatives may be preferred in nursing mothers.
In traditional Indian culture, castor oil has been administered to newborn infants during the first 2 to 3 days of life, often resulting in adverse effects. Administration of castor oil to newborns is dangerous and should be avoided.
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Maternal Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Infant Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Effects in Breastfed Infants
In rural India, castor oil has been traditionally given to infants during the first 2 to 3 days of life to clear the intestine of meconium. This practice can result in paralytic ileus and aspiration pneumonia. Severe hypoalbuminemia was also reported in a 1.5-month-old infant whose grandmother gave him castor oil daily from the fifth day of life, resulting in diarrhea and malnutrition.
Effects on Lactation and Breastmilk
Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Alternate Drugs to Consider
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