The dried root of Cephaelis Ipecacuanha, of Brazil. Ipecac contains from 1/4 to 1 % of the active principle, emetine, and also a glucoside, starch, gum, etc.
Externally, powdered ipecac irritates the skin, causing a pustular eruption. Mucous membranes are similarly irritated, and an increased bronchial and nasal secretion, sneezing, etc., follows its local application. Taken internally, it tends to soften and liquefy hard and tenacious mucous secretions.
In large doses it is a familiar emetic, safe and prompt, and non-depressing. Its action is partly direct and partly indirect, the act of vomiting being promoted both by local action on the stomach walls, and by stimulation through the influence of emetine of the vomiting centre in the medulla.
The emesis caused by ipecac takes place in from twenty to thirty minutes after administration, and occurs usually only once. There is but very little nausea before or with the act of vomiting, nor is it followed by exhaustion. It is accompanied by a decided increase in the secretions of the gastric and bronchial mucous membranes, and, the sputum thus being made more fluid, with the expulsive act there is a general clearing out of the bronchial tubes, the trachea, and the nasal cavities.
Ipecac, as an emetic, is between sulphate of zinc and tartar emetic, not being as prompt as the first, nor as nauseating as the second. It is not powerful enough to give alone in cases of poisoning, but is then used as an aid to other emetics. It is very suitable for children, and they bear it in relatively large doses.
Ipecac is a sedative expectorant, a direct chol-agogue, increasing the flow of bile, and a diaphoretic.
Average dose, gr. xv.-I Gm.
Strength, 7 parts fluid ext. to 100. Dose, expectorant, xv.-I mil; emetic, ʒ iv.-15 mils.
Average expectorant dose, i.-0.05 mil. Emetic dose for adult, xv.-I mil.
Average dose, gr. 1/3-0.02 Gm.
All these preparations are best given with plenty of warm water, in cases of poisoning; with croupy children, however, swallowing being difficult, it is best not to dilute the dose, or but very little.