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Castor

How does Castor Bean work?

Castor bean is used to make castor oil, which is a strong laxative. In pregnancy, castor oil might start labor by stimulating the uterus.

Are there safety concerns?

Castor oil is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth as a single dose. In some people, castor oil can cause stomach discomfort, cramping, nausea, and faintness.

Castor oil seeds that have had the outer coat removed (hulled) are POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth as a single dose. Also, castor oil eye drops are POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the eye for up to 30 days.

Castor oil is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth long-term or in large doses. It might cause fluid and potassium loss from the body when used for more than a week or in doses of more than 15-60 mL per day.

The whole seed is UNSAFE to take by mouth. The outer coating (hull) of the castor seed contains a deadly poison. This outer coating can cause nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; abdominal pain; dehydration; shock; blood cell destruction; severe fluid and chemical disturbances; liver, kidney, and pancreas damage; and death. Chewing as few as 1-6 whole seeds can kill an adult. If the seed is swallowed whole, poisoning is less likely; however, prompt medical attention is still an absolute necessity.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Children: Castor oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in appropriate doses short-term (less than one week). Castor oil is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth for more than one week or at a high dose. Taking more than the typical children's dose of 1-15 mL per day, depending on age, can cause a chemical imbalance in the body. Castor seeds are UNSAFE if the whole seed is taken by mouth.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Using castor oil in pregnant women at term (ready to deliver) is POSSIBLY SAFE. Midwives routinely use castor oil for starting labor in pregnant women who are ready to deliver. However, castor oil should not be used for this purpose without the supervision of a healthcare provider. Also, it is LIKELY UNSAFE to use castor oil in pregnant women who are not at term. It might bring on labor too early. It is UNSAFE for women who are pregnant to take whole castor seeds by mouth, as it can cause serious toxic effects or death.

Don't take castor oil if you are breast-feeding. Not enough research has been done to know whether a mother's use of castor oil is safe for nursing infants.

Intestinal problems: Don't use castor oil if you have a blocked intestine, unexplained stomach pain, or problems with your bile ducts or gall bladder.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.



Medical Dictionary