Syrup of ipecac, used medicinally since the 1500s, is made from the dried root and rhizome (underground stem) of the ipecacuanha plant (Cephaelis ipecacuanha). This plant grows in Brazilian rainforests and other locations in Central and South America. Ipecac's primary medicinal use is to cause vomiting after a person takes in a toxic substance. The induced vomiting reportedly removes toxic substances from the stomach, hinders their absorption, and speeds recovery. Currently, many experts recommend abandoning ipecac use in both home and clinical settings and employing other therapies such as activated charcoal, which has been shown to be effective and lacking in potential for abuse.
Another ipecac use is to treat gastrointestinal infections caused by amoeba. While ipecac is active against the amoebic form of dystentery (diarrhea), it is ineffective against bacterial dysentery.

Related Terms

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.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Acetaminophen toxicity (Grade: C)
In several studies, ipecac was shown to be effective in reducing acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol®) concentration when administered within 30 minutes or less after acetaminophen overdose.
Poisoning (Grade: C)
Ipecac has been used as an antidote to poisoning because it is inexpensive, easy to administer, and can be used in a home setting. Its effectiveness depends on how quickly it is given after poison ingestion and on the particular poison.