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Cephaelis ipecacuanha

Latin Name: Cephaelis ipecacuanha

Common name: Ipecac

Family: Rubiaceae

Parts used: Root, rhizome

Constituents: Alkaloids

Medicinal actions: Expectorant, emetic (in higher doses), stimulant, diaphoretic.

Medicinal use: Chronic and acute bronchitis with a relatively dry cough with moderate amounts of thick mucous that is difficult to expectorate. In higher doses (see pharmacy section below), Ipecac will act as an emetic.

Pharmacology: 

  • Irritates the stomach lining and stimulates the vomiting center of the brain.

Pharmacy:

  • Powder: 0.25–0.5g daily in divided doses (expectorant); 0.5-2g daily in single dose (emetic)
  • Tincture: 0.25-1ml (1:5) once per day
  • Syrup: in children 1-12 year old: 15 ml, followed by 100-200ml of water

Toxicity: Depression, drowsiness, arrhythmias, bradycardia, hypotension, atrial fibrillation, fatal myocarditis. Activated charcoal is an antidote to Ipecac toxicity. Erythema followed by pustules which may form into ulcers where it repeatedly contacts the skin.

Contraindications: Avoid use during pregnancy.

Interactions: None known

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