Is Castor Oil compatible with breastfeeding? Do we have alternatives for Castor Oil?

Castor Oil

January 24, 2017 (High Risk)

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.
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.


Very Low Risk

Compatible. Not risky for breastfeeding or infant.

Low Risk

Moderately safe. Mild risk possible. Follow up recommended. Read the Comment.

High Risk

Poorly safe. Evaluate carefully. Use a safer alternative. Read the Comment.

Very High Risk

Not recommended. Cessation of breastfeeding or alternative.


  • Castorbean
  • Castor oil plant
  • Palma Christi


  • Ricinus communis (Latin, botanical name)
  • Касторовое Масло (Cyrillic)
  • ヒマシ油 (Japanese)


  1. Eglash A. Treatment of maternal hypergalactia. Breastfeed Med. 2014Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  2. Winterfeld U, Meyer Y, Panchaud A, Einarson A. Management of deficient lactation in Switzerland and Canada: a survey of midwives' current practices. Breastfeed Med. 2012Abstract
  3. 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
  4. 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)
  5. 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. 2011Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  6. Mahadevan U, Kane S. American gastroenterological association institute technical review on the use of gastrointestinal medications in pregnancy. Gastroenterology. 2006Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  7. Hardy ML. Herbs of special interest to women. J Am Pharm Assoc (Wash). 2000Abstract
  8. Benakappa DG, Raju M, Shivananda, Benakappa AD. Breast-feeding practices in rural Karnataka (India) with special reference to lactation failure. Acta Paediatr Jpn. 1989Abstract