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Ipecac (Cephaelis ipecacuanha)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • Cephaeline, Cephaelisipecacuanha, cephaline, emetamine, emetine, Euphorbiaipecacuanhae, Ipeca®, ipecacuana, ipecacuanha, ipecacuanha Syrup APF, ipecacuanhic acid, ipecacuanhin, isoquinoline alkaloids, o-methylpsychotrine, protoemetine, Pure-Pak®, Psychotriaipecacuanha, psychotrine, Rubiaceae, Tithymalopsisipecacuanhae.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Syrup of ipecac is derived from the dried root of ipecacuanha (Cephaelisipecacuanha) (1).
  • Ipecac's primary medicinal use is to induce vomiting after ingestion of a toxic substance (1;2). The only other use of any significance is for treatment of amebiasis (a gastrointestinal infection caused by the one-celled organism Entamoeba histolytica) (3).
  • For decades, ipecac was recommended for use in the home as well as the hospital for emergency ridding the body of toxic substances; however, many experts recommend abandoning its use in both settings (4;5). They cite the superiority of activated charcoal for this indication (6;7;8). They also cite its abuse by individuals who are anorexic or bulimic (9;10;11) or those who repeatedly administer it to themselves or their children as an attention-getting device (12;13;14).
  • In view of ipecac's current lack of popularity as an emetic (its primary medicinal use), the likelihood of a resurgence of interest for this use is unlikely; furthermore, its emetic properties detract from its usefulness as an amebicide (several other products, such as metronidazole (Flagyl®), are preferred treatment choices).

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.