Castor oil in labor.

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: black and blue cohosh
From: (Todd Caldecott)
Date: Tue, 01 Aug 1995 17:35:46 -0800

>In response to Elizabeth's request for info re: labor induction, Todd provided info re: Blue & Black Cohosh. In his wife's case it was both effective and safe and I have heard it often recommended.
> However, a midwife I discussed it with when I was pregnant said that in her experience the use of both cohoshs was often associated with a more frequent incidence of hemorrhage than births without cohosh.
> I found, on the advice of my midwife, that castor oil is extremely effective for inducing labor when the baby, cervix, etc, are ready. I took a little more than recommended, a whole bottle over 4 or 5 hours, and woke up in labor the following morning. My midwife said that she knew of no studies or anecdotal evidence of negative side effects of castor oil.

Castor oil is a cathartic, meaning that it stimulates bowel movements. Very often in labour, as the baby is bearing down in the woman's pelvis, she has the urgency to defecate. (this of course is because the weight of the baby is compressing the descending and sigmoid colon). It has been a standard course of action to stimulate labour through stimulating bowel movements. This can be rationalized in ayurveda as both defecation and childbirth involve a downward moving energy called apana vayu. Accordingly any technique or agent that stimulates one action may stimulate the other.

In regards to you using a whole bottle over a five hour period (you don't say how large that bottle is) I would be hesitant to use much more than 2 tbsp to initiate labour. Castor oil can cause some pretty severe cramping pains, and while it doesn't compare to the pain of childbirth, why make things worse? I suggest if you downed a whole bottle of the stuff right now, you will a very unpleasant next couple of days. In Ayurveda castor oil is used in "snigda", or oleation therapy. The goal here is to oil the patient inside and out, after which the the person unceremoniously begins to puke their guts out, all part of the purification process of "Pancha Karma". Incidentally, enemas have also been used in hospitals to stimulate labour.