(Indian). Brasiliensis radix, herba paris Brasiliana, polycocos, poaio do matto, caa-ajtir; cpio; Indianaradix, periclymenum parvum, Ipeca cuan, or Brasilian root. Many of these names have been assigned, from the opinion of naturalists, respecting the plant which produces this valuable remedy. It has been supposed to be the root of a viola, of a periclymenum, and of a species of psycotria. Indeed the evidences in favour of the latter are so strong, that we have much reason to believe that its roots are at least emetic, though not the real ipecacuanha. In fact, if we can trust Decandolle's description in the Bulletin des Sciences, the white ipecacuanha is derived from the viola, and this medicine is afforded by three species, the v. calceolaria of the species plantarum, a native of Guiana and the American islands; the v. parvifiora of the supplementum plantarum; and the v. ipecacuanha of the mantissa. These roots may be found among those of the true ipecacuanha, but they are a fraudulent addition, as, though emetic, they do not possess the valuable properties of the true or grey kind, They are distinguished by the size of the woody part, which, in the true kind, is a fibre only; in the white it is as thick as the bark. The roots of different species of aselepias, dorstenia,and other genera, are sold as ipecacuanha, but with the distinction of "false."
In 1780 Mutis sent to the younger Linnaeus, from
South America, a full description of a plant, which he was assured was the true ipecacuanha; an account confirmed by a medical resident, who has been stigmatised with the name of an empiric. This naturalist referred it to the genus psycotria with the trivial name of emetica, doubting, however, whether it was the same with the ipecacuanha of Piso and Margraave, though the figures of these authors greatly resembled it. Dr. Wood-ville, in 1793, published an engraving of a specimen preserved in spirits, sent from the Brasils. The root was entire, and ascertained it to be the real plant; but the flower was wanting, so that the truth of Mutis's narrative and the credit of his informant could neither be established nor invalidated. In this state of uncertainty, we received in 1802 the description of the true plant from Felix Avellar Brotero, in the sixth volume of the Linnaean Transactions, p. 137. The author is professor of botany in Coimbra, and professes to have drawn his description from numerous dried specimens, corrected by the observations of his friend Bernard Gomes, a diligent medical botanist, who has often examined the living plants. They grow in Parnambuqui, Bahia, etc. and other provinces of Brazil, flower in November, December, and January, and again in February and March. The berries ripen in May.
It is scarcely the object of this work to transcribe the minute description of Brotero, which would be uninteresting to the medical reader; and we shall prefer making a few remarks on the minute difference between the callicocca ipecacuanha, the title he gives it and the psycotia emetica of the younger Linnaeus. This genus callicoccae belongs to the rubiacecae of Jussieu, and the species are all perennial.
The description of Brotero greatly resembles that of Mutis. In the latter, the bracteae which separate the florets are said to be so small as to be scarcely discernible; but Brotero describes the bracteae, involucri and flosculorum longitudine; but we have long since learnt that plus vel minus non mutat speciem. The stipulae, according to Mutis, are awl shaped, and horizontal; in Brotero appressae sessiles sublineares partito fimbriatae, lacinulis subulatis. In Mutis the flowers are said to be axillary; in Brotero terminal. In Brotero's figure, however, there is but a single flower which, though placed terminally, is apparently axillary. The stipulae in Sir Joseph Banks' plant seem to resemble those described by Mutis.
There appears, if these circumstances only are considered, little doubt but that the plant of the younger Linnaeus is a variety of that described by Brotero; but in Mutis' plant there is no involucrum: in that of Brotero a large and strongly marked one, so that in reality,they must be two distinct species, though they certainly belong to the same genus. The involucrum is, indeed a part of the essential character in Schreber, and in the cephaelis of Wildenow (the same genus); yet many of the species have naked heads. It has, in conformity with the same views, been proposed to add as a species of callicocca the e. mutisii (psycotria emetica Lin. Filii Supplementum Plant, p. 144). Head naked peduncled; few flowered; leaves lanceolate, smooth; stipules entire, awl shaped; corolla five, cleft; chaffy bractes, very small.
It is brought from the Spanish Westlndies. Foursorts are mentioned, viz. the grey, brown, white, and yellow. The grey is generally esteemed the most valuable, but
Neumann assures that the brown is equally good. The white sort is much weaker than the other, and the yellow does not act in the least as an emetic, being merely purgative. The Peruvian sort is called bexuguillo.
The roots of the grey sort are about the thickness of a small quill, very unequal and knotty; variously-bent and contorted, full of wrinkles and deep circular fissures, which reach down to a small whitish woody fibre that runs in the middle of each piece: the cortical part is compact, brittle, looks smooth, and resinous on breaking. They have little or no smell, the taste is bitterish and subacrid, covering the tongue as it were with a kind of mucilage. The roots of the brown kind are small, somewhat more wrinkled, of a dark colour without, and white within. The white is woody, has no wrinkles, and, to the taste, no perceptible bitterness. The ash coloured or grey ipecacuanha is generally preferred: the brown has been observed even in a smal1 dose to produce violent effects; but the white has scarce any effect, whatever the dose may be. The root contains a gummy and resinous matter, though the gum is in the greatest proportion, and the most active part: the bark is more powerful than the wood; and the whole root manifests an antiseptic and astringent power. The emetic quality is said by Dr. Irvine to be counteracted by the acetous acid; for thirty grains, taken in two ounces of vinegar, produced only some loose stools. For this reason it has probably become fashionable to add the ammonia, which is supposed to increase the emetic power of the ipecacuanha.
This medicine is the most certain, the mildest, and safest emetic with which we are acquainted; for it readily passes off by stool, if it does not operate by vomit; but perhaps less certainly by urine or perspiration than the antimonials.
The larger compact roots that have a resinous appearance are preferred. The slender, blackish, brown ones, full of fibres, are the worst. Mr. Henry, of Paris, has lately ascertained, by experiment, the fact first mentioned by Lassone, that the ligneous part is equally powerful with the cortical.
The roots of the caapia, commonly sold under the name of white ipecacuanha, are yellowish, or of a yellowish white colour. The apocynum is another imposition which we have mentioned; but the colour of its medullary fibre is of a deep reddish yellow colour, whereas that of the ipecacuanha is whitish, or of a pale gray.
Helvetius first brought this root into repute as an antidysenteric, though it was brought to Europe about the middle of the seventeenth century. Since his time it has been used in diarrhoea, menorrhagia, leucorrhoea, in long continued obstructions, and in spasmodic asthma. In violent paroxysms of the latter it has procured relief; and where habitual, from three to five grains may be given every morning, or from five to ten every other morning, and continued for four or six weeks. Small doses of one to two grains have been of use in catarrhal, some consumptive cases, and various states of fever. It has also been employed in the cure of agues as an emetic, given at the time of accession, or at the close of the cold fit. Very small doses, as one third or one half of a grain, have been recommended every four hours, in menorrhagia, cough, pleurisy, and haemoptoe; and in larger doses, to counteract the effects of opium. Of all its preparations, the powder is the best; six or eight grains of which will produce two or three discharges by vomit; and in diarrhoeas and dysenteries, after this operation, it excites perspiration, if the patient is kept warm. It chiefly operates as an emetic in proper doses; in smaller doses, as a nauseating and aperient medicine, upon which its antidysenteric power seems to depend. It is said to succeed equally well in small as in large doses; but the quality of the root we now obtain is not the same, or it has lost this power. It is so certain an emetic, that we cannot venture to give it where vomiting would be injurious. Geoffroy supposed that the resinous part only was emetic, and that the virtue of the ipecacuanha in dysenteries depended on its gum, which acted as a demulcent; but this is highly improbable, as other emetics or similar medicines in nauseating doses are perhaps equally effectual. Dr. Irvine found the gum more actively emetic than the resin, and the bark than the wood, though the latter possessed this power in an inconsiderable degree. Water distilled from it was not emetic, but the remaining decoction violently so, though its peculiar properties were destroyed by long boiling. See Cullen's Materia Medica.
The best menstruum for extracting the whole virtue of the root is one part pure spirit, and two or three of water; of wines the Canary or mountain best extracts its virtue; but the London College directs the following vinum ipecacuanhae. Take of the roots of ipecacuanha in powder, two ounces; of Spanish white wine, two pints; digest ten days, and strain. Ph. Lond. 1788. Its dose, as an emetic, is from 3 ij- to i. ss.-as a diaphoretic, from twenty to forty drops, adding about ten drops of tinctura opii.
Dr. Alston thinks that the virtue of this root resides not in its oil, gum, or resin, but in its peculiar spirit. Later chemists, however, particularly Mr. Lassone and Mr. Henry, of Paris, have shown that ipecacuanha contains a free acid of a vegetable nature decomposed by fire, and different salts with a calcareous basis. It also contains a small proportion of an elastic gum. The most active part is the resin, though the extractive is by no means without power, in about a double dose. If three grains of powdered ipecacuanha are added to fifteen grains of jalap, it more certainly and efficaciously purges; but it also often deceives by producing vomiting.
To deceive children Э i. or 3 ss. of powdered ipecacuanha may be infused in half a pint of boiling water, adding a little milk and sugar. A tea cup full may be given every ten or fifteen minutes, till it operates; and it will then need nothing to work it off. It might perhaps be better infused with weak coffee, or to this a tea spoonful of ipecacuanha wine may be added. The college also orders the following pulvis ipecacuanhae compositus. Dover's powder. Take of ipecacuanha, hard purified opium, of each, rubbed into powder, one drachm; of vitriolated kali in powder, an ounce. Pharm. Lond. 1788. The dose is from ten to thirty grains; the former dose containing a grain of opium. This is very nearly the same as the powder of Dr. Dover, and is considered as one of the most certain sudo-rifics in rheumatism, gout, and other diseases where sweating is necessary.
See Lewis's Materia Medica; London Medical Observations and Inquiries, vol. i.; Neumann's Chemical Works; Woodville'a Medical Botany.