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Castor Oil to Induce Labour

There are all sorts of modern medical tips and tricks to induce labour for expectant mothers, but one way, occasionally advised by midwives is something far more old fashioned, castor oil.

It’s mistakenly thought that using castor to induce labour in pregnant women is nothing but an old wives tale however, it has now been scientifically and medically proven that castor oil when taken orally induces labour by causing uterus contractions which “induces labor in pregnant females[1].

The research shows that Ricinoleic acid, the fatty acid that makes up ~90% of castor oil, induces laxation and binds to one particular receptor in the uterus, resulting in contractions and as a result induces labour.

What is Castor oil?

Castor oil is a vegetable oil derived from the castor bean. It has been used for generations for many things including as an ease for constipation due to the muscle contractions it can cause.

The downside to using castor oil as a natural way to induce labour is the unpleasant taste, some people just can’t stand it!

There are two ways out of this one. You can act like an adult and stop pulling that face! Or there’s an easier option for you big kids.

What’s the easier option?

There are many recipes that can disguise the taste and make castor oil more pleasant to be ingested.

Smoothies are probably the best way, just blend with various fruit juices and ice.

Others recommend a hot drink to hide the oily taste. A good old fashioned cup of tea can do the trick.

One mum even told me that she made an omelette with salsa and her castor oil!

Your doctor will let you know how much castor oil to take and how often to use it. The rule of thumb is about an ounce at regular intervals.

Please seek the opinion of a qualified medical professional before using castor oil to induce labour – due to your unique physiology and medical history take only under direction from your GP or midwife.


Tunaru S, Althoff TF, Nüsing RM, Diener M, Offermanns S. (2012). Castor oil induces laxation and uterus contraction via ricinoleic acid activating prostaglandin EP3 receptors. Available: Last Accessed 1st June 2014.


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