Castor oil

Pharmacology and toxicology

Castor oil (oleum ricini) is a triglyceride that is hydrolyzed in the small intestine to release glycerol and ricinoleic acid. This causes a laxative effect by irritating the intestinal mucosa. Castor oil is a laxative with a harsh action; it is not appropriate for long-term therapy. In addition, it has a vety unpleasant taste. No specific embryotoxic effects have been observed in human beings; however, studies during early pregnancy have to our knowledge not been reported. Many authors warn against a possible uterine contraction-stimulating effect. Steingrub (1988) reported a single case of amniotic fluid embolism associated with ingestion of castor oil, which was taken in an effort to induce labor.

Recommendation. Castor oil should not be used during pregnancy because it may stimulate uterine contraction. Nevertheless, exposure does not require any action other than changing medication.

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