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Definition:

Castor oil is a yellowish liquid often used as a lubricant and in laxatives. This article discusses poisoning from swallowing a large amount (overdose) of castor oil.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

See also: Laxative overdose



Alternative Names:

Alphamul overdose; Emulsoil overdose; Laxopol overdose; Unisol overdose



Poisonous Ingredient:
  • Castor oil


Where Found:

Castor oil comes from the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis). It can be found in the following products:

  • Castor oil
  • Alphamul
  • Emulsoil
  • Fleet Flavored Castor Oil
  • Laxopol
  • Unisol

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.



Symptoms:
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Hallucinations (rare)
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath and chest pain
  • Skin rash
  • Throat tightness


Home Treatment:

Castor oil is not considered very toxic (although allergic reactions are possible). Call poison control for treatment information.



Before Calling Emergency:

Determine the following information:

  • Patient's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of product (as well as the ingredients and strength, if known)
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed


Poison Control, or a local emergency number:

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.

See: Poison control center - emergency number



What to expect at the emergency room:

The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Blood and urine tests will be done. The patient may receive medicine to treat the symptoms and fluids through a vein (IV).



Expectations (prognosis):

Normally, castor oil should cause few problems. Recovery is very likely.




Review Date: 7/20/2009
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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