Castor Oil To Induce Labor: Is It Safe And Effective?

The use of castor oil to induce labor is a traditional method used for centuries. Derived from the castor plant’s seeds, castor oil has been utilized for various medicinal purposes.

However, there is limited research on the safety and effectiveness of castor oil on labor induction. 

Using oil during pregnancies can be unpredictable, and we should consult our doctor beforehand.

In this outline, we will explore what oral castor oil is and its relationship with labor. There are also unpleasant side effects and benefits that we should know.

What Is Castor Oil And Labor?

castor oil to induce labor

To put it simply, castor oil is a natural substance derived from Ricinus communis plant’s seeds and has been utilized for centuries due to its purported therapeutic properties.

In the context of pregnancy, castor oil ingestion is widely believed to stimulate contractions in the uterus.

Castor Oil Contractions

Castor oil naturally comes from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant. You may find them in southern Asia.

This plant has been utilized for centuries to address various health concerns. However, there is limited scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of castor oil.

This natural extract serves as a common ingredient in commercial products. These items are soaps, coatings, and lubricants.

It contains proteins that may cause allergies, including the potent toxin called ricin.

The oil can be used for pharmaceutical use once the toxins are removed. It is recognized for its potential to alleviate constipation.

Plus, castor oil during pregnancy has traditionally been used to induce labor. However, uncertainties still surround its safety and effectiveness in this particular aspect.

Inducing Labor

Spontaneous labor is a natural vaginal birth process. That typically occurs when the baby is fully developed.

The baby’s body is well prepared. However, in certain situations, doctors advise to intervene in labor with medical induction. You can learn how to induce labor here:

2 Guides Of How To Induce Labor Naturally: At Home & At The Hospital

the most popular and safe ways to try to kickstart your labor at home and by medical treatments.

It is done to safeguard the well-being of both the mother and the baby. Inducing labor may be considered in conditions of placental abruption and uterine infections.

Healthcare providers may introduce labor induction when there is insufficient amniotic fluid. You may also have their advice in case of contractions without water breaking.

These situations may pose risks to the mother or the baby. It is important that the process should be undertaken by a healthcare professional.

Attempting to induce labor at home or without medical guidance can be hazardous.

It is crucial that pregnant women who underwent a cesarean delivery should not try to induce labor. This condition can result in a uterine rupture.

That is why using remedies, including natural castor oil, is not advisable unless recommended by doctors.

Can You Use Castor Oil To Induce Labor?

is castor oil safe to induce labor

Castor oil has been employed as a traditional approach to initiate labor in term pregnancy. But, scientific evidence to support its effectiveness is not enough.

Recent studies shed light on the link between castor and labor induction.

A retrospective study conducted in 2000 discovered that 57.7% of women who ingested castor oil initiated labor within 24 hours.

Within 24 hours, active labor occurred in just 4.2% of the women who did not take castor oil.

Similarly, there was a descriptive study in 2018. Castor oil for induction had better outcomes in multiparous women with childbirth experiences. 

Although the research stated that there were no adverse effects of castor oil, a study in 2009 did not find any connection between castor oil and labor induction.

It is important to note that castor oil may trigger uterine contractions, according to UTSW University.

Nevertheless, these effects could be due to digestive discomfort rather than true labor.

Additionally, limited research is available on the safety of castor oil utilization for induction. Meanwhile, various studies have differences in outcome.

Thus, it should only be utilized under strict medical supervision.

Is Castor Oil Safe To Induce Labor?

Although castor oil is a natural extract, it can cause potential side effects. These include nausea and vomiting.

Excessive vomiting or diarrhea can lead to dehydration. You may also suffer nausea, diarrhea, cramping, low blood pressure, and dizziness.

Besides, the oil may increase the risk of meconium staining in the amniotic fluid. It can sometimes cause painful contractions and fetal complications.

However, studies have not found any evidence of causing infection or maternal mortality.

It is crucial to never attempt castor oil induction without consulting medical professionals. Discussing any induction method with your doctor before using it is always wise.

Also, inducing labor before your due date is not recommended. There should be a medical necessity to do it.

Keep in mind that even when you are a suitable candidate for induction, castor oil might not be suitable. Always consult the advice of your healthcare professional.

Ensure you know any potential risks before utilizing castor oil to help induce labor.

How Long After Castor Oil Does Labor Start?

There is limited evidence to support the duration of castor oil for inducing labor.

However, a study found that women who used caster oil to induce labor were more likely to go into labor within 24 hours than those who did not.

In the same study, only 4.2% of the women who did not use castor oil went into the onset of labor within 24 hours.

It’s best we still need more research to confirm the reliability of this study.

How Much Castor Oil To Start Labor?

The safe and recommended dose of castor oil is not established. In fact, experts hold varying opinions on whether castor oil is safe for the induction of labor.

Typically, some previous cases of castor oil for labor induction were a single dose of 60 milliliters (ml).

The amount of castor oil is roughly equivalent to 4 tablespoons. The dosing recommendation should be around 40 or 41 weeks of pregnancy.

The item is commonly mixed with another liquid, such as juice, to mask its unpleasant taste. It is generally recommended to take castor oil on an empty stomach.

It is not advisable to take castor oil before going to bed. It may lead to disruptions in sleep due to nausea, diarrhea, and frequent bathroom visits throughout the night.

What Are The Alternative For Castor Oil Used To Induce Labor?

how to take castor oil for labor

There is no solid evidence to support home methods of inducing labor. The responsibility of inducing labor should be left to a doctor or healthcare provider in a hospital or clinical setting.

However, there are natural induction methods that may potentially facilitate the process. These are nipple stimulation, engaging in sexual intercourse, and consuming spicy foods.

Some traditional methods are trying acupuncture or participating in exercises to induce labor. It’s important to note that none of these methods have been scientifically proven to be effective.

Consulting with a healthcare provider is crucial if you’re concerned about labor. You should not attempt any alternative to labor induction yourself.

It’s always better to follow their advice and guidance to ensure the safety of both the mother and the baby.


Castor oil to induce labor is often considered a potential method. However, its effectiveness and safety remain subjects of debate.

The long-standing history seems to be anecdotal evidence. A few studies suggest a higher likelihood of initiating labor within 24 hours after its use.

Yet, there is insufficient evidence. We should wait for more eligible studies.

Additionally, castor oil consumption may cause harmful effects such as nausea and diarrhea.

The decision on labor initiation should be made in consultation with a medical expert to avoid the unclear risk factor.

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