Castor oil in childbirth.

Subject: Re: castor oil
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 15:37:57 EST

In a recent study published in the January 2000 issue of Alternative Therapies, castor oil was found to be useful in post-term pregnancies. Following administration, 30 of 52 women (57.7%) began active labor vs 2 of 48 (4.2%) of women who received no treatment.

There is scant information on the use of castor oil for induction of labor in medical journals; however, I understand there is routine use of this preparation by mid-wives. Does anyone have more information on the use of castor oil for induction of labor?

Elliot Freeman RPh, Managing Editor
Midwest Shared Newsletter

From: "Amy Cook" <>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 15:55:13 -0800


Well, I can provide personal/anecdotal information on the use of castor oil for inducing labour. My first child was post-term and labour was induced shortly before 43 weeks using castor oil which I made into a horrid cocktail mixed with grape juice. Of course, this was supervised and suggested by a certified nurse midwife whose care I was under. The result was a prolonged prodromal stage of labour that ended up a total mess. I was exhausted, needed Pitocin and the baby was born with breathing problems which I attribute to all the interventions. Before taking the castor oil, I was experiencing irregular strong contractions that weren't progressing fast enough for the midwife but *were* preparing me for labour based on what I know now about birthing babies (I have three children, two born drugless and free of interventions). I firmly believe that castor oil as a method of inducing labour is barbaric. It causes terrible diarrhea, nausea and vomiting which can dehydrate and exhaust the woman before her full resources are needed for active labour.

Anyway, I did have one of my babies in Britain, where the midwifery model of care predominates, and the use of castor oil for induction, I was told, is not a common practice there. They favour pessaries, aromatherapy massage, herbs, and homeopathy as methods of induction. Also, I understand that no method of induction will work if the baby isn't ready to be born or the body isn't ready to go into labour.

best wishes,

From: Karen S Vaughan <>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 22:04:15 -0500

Castor oil is often used _externally_ to induce labor in the form of a warm castor oil compress. Seems less barbaric and less depleting to the mother.

Personally I used black and blue cohosh when they were threatening me with a C-section and I almost had my second son on the stoop.

Karen Vaughan
Email advice is not a substitute for medical treatment.