What is ipecac and how does it work?

In every first aid kit or medicine cabinet, ipecac is often recommended. If you are wondering what it is and how it works, it is important to find out what ipecac is all about. ipecac is basically a medicine that was created from the roots of a plant known as ipecacuanha that natural grows in Brazil. The plant was initially introduced to Europe back in 1672 and the commonly used medicinal version was part of the public medical care. Even before antibiotics and other medications were available in the healthcare scene, it was already widely used and well-known for its effectiveness.


Ipecac is used to induce vomiting except for acidsand kerosene.

Components of ipecac

An active component of ipecac is emetine which is still used for treating different forms of dysentery. There are various versions and preparations of the medicine made from ipecac and they are available in different strengths and have different uses. Take note that it is possible to overdose with ipecac and has been known to cause accidental poisoning.

Syrup of ipecacis

The syrup of ipecacis is also called as an emetic or a substance that is commonly used to induce vomiting. Always remember that vomiting typically occurs within 20-30 minutes after the appropriate dose is given. The dosage depends on the age and the size of the individual. Do not forget that the syrup of ipecac must not be given to infants under the age of six months without consulting a doctor first. The medication is always given with water.

Purpose of ipecac

Throughout the years, syrup of ipecac has been given to induce vomiting in case of poisoning or ingestion of harmful substances. On the other hand, the medicine has fallen out of favor for this reason since it is considered slow-acting. At the present, with the availability of activated charcoal, it works at a faster and effective rate in cases where ingestion of harmful substances is suspected.

Ipecac is also used in order to loosen congestion caused by croup and bronchitis. It has been believed that inducing vomiting can lead to the loosening of phlegm and eases the congestion to make breathing a lot easier in such conditions.

What are the risks?

Ipecac is used by individuals who have eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. It is used to induce vomiting and facilitate the loss of weight. Based on studies conducted, overuse and abuse of the medicine can cause damage to the heart that can lead to heart failure and eventually death in the long run.

Even though ipecac has fallen out of favor to some individuals, the syrup of ipecac is still considered as a standard essential or must-have item for majority of first aid kits and medicine cabinets. Understandably, there are no signs that it is completely eliminated or replaced by other similar products until today.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply