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Pregnant? Can you have papayas, pineapples, grapes, and castor oil?

Published:Wednesday | November 6, 2019 | 12:21 AMDr. Aloma Wallace/Contributor
Castor oil
Castor oil

Are you aware that certain foods, specifically fruits, and some plant derivatives, should not be consumed by pregnant women? Let’s look at a few. For example, can papayas, pineapples, grapes, and castor oil be consumed while pregnant? Do you consider the effects of organic versus non-organic grown foods?

Let’s look at some research that can help women make an informed decision.

PAPAYAS (Carica papaya)

Jose, Sasmi & Elsy (2018) concluded in their research study that “a significant increase in platelet count” was seen after consuming papaya, which was the opposite of ‘thrombocytopenia’ – low platelets in the blood, so if you are bleeding, you don’t clot and you keep bleeding.

What does this mean for a pregnant woman? Adebiyi, Adaikan & Prasad found that due to the latex levels in the unripe or semi-ripe papaya, there were tetanic spasms observed in the uterus of the lab subjects used. Crude papaya latex did initiate spasms, and the uterus contracted. These uterine muscles contracted in a similar way as if the lab subjects were given oxytocin (otherwise known as Pitocin, used to start labour or speed up labour – 2002).

PINEAPPLES (Ananas Comosus)

In the pineapple research study, foetuses displayed several tetrogenic effects (birth defects). In addition, ossification could be inhibited (interrupting the natural way or process) in appendicular skeleton (Astuti, Setyawati & Narayani, 2019). So natural bone formation in the foetus can be disrupted.

GRAPES (Vitis Vinifera L.)

Grapes seem to have some form of protection and are more favourable, compared to papayas and pineapples. A study done by Soares de Moura, Resende, Moura & Maradei suggested that grape skin extract show probable protective effect on pre-eclampsia when using grape skin extract (2007). Pre-eclampsia is an abrupt sharp rise in blood pressure, swelling of the face, hands, and feet, as well as protein and albumin leakage in the urine, which requires emergency treatment.

In another research study, grapes were noted to have reduced the threat of miscarriage and had a critical role in the mechanisms initiated to protect the foetus (Mehriardestani, Hekmat, Nejatbakhsh & Moradi (2019).

CASTOR OIL (Ricinus Communis)

Many pregnant women experience constipation during pregnancy. It is suggested that while there are many remedies, castor oil should be avoided because it can induce labour. Castor oil has been used by midwives over time. Castor oil is said to induce labour in some research, but not all. Saadat, Abedzadeh & Saberi concluded in their research study that 70 per cent of the women involved in the research study had contractions within 24 hours after consuming 60ml of castor oil (2008).

In another clinical trial, the study found no definitive proof that the onset of labour was initiated by castor oil (Kahnamoyiagdam, Aghamohammadi & Rostamnejad – 2014).


In conclusion, there is no doubt that many women have unknowingly consumed these fruits without any untoward effects. Many may have consumed castor oil without going into labour. However, the information is here to allow women to make an informed decision. Consideration should be given to quantity consumed, along with how far along the pregnancy is.

We are also encouraged to consume more organic products. Although as adults we can manage pesticides used to grow non-organic foods, the body only filters some of it, not all, which can have harmful effect on the unborn child.

Dr Aloma Wallace is a university professor and author. Email feedback to and