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What other names is Ipecac known by?

Brazil Root, Brazilian Ipecac, Callicocca ipecacuanha, Cartagena Ipecac, Cephaelis acuminata, Cephaelis ipecacuanha, Ipéca, Ipéca du Brésil, Ipéca du Nicaragua, Ipéca du Panama, Ipecacuana, Ipécacuana, Ipecacuanha, Matto Grosso Ipecac, Nicaragua Ipecac, Panama Ipecac, Psychotria ipecacuanha, Racine Brésilienne, Rio Ipecac, Uragoga granatensis, Uragoga ipecacuanha.

What is Ipecac?

Ipecac is a plant. It is used to make medicine. Ipecac syrup is available both as a nonprescription product and as an FDA-approved prescription product.

Ipecac is taken by mouth to cause vomiting after suspected poisoning. It is also used to treat bronchitis associated with croup in children, a severe kind of diarrhea (amoebic dysentery), and cancer. Ipecac is also used as an expectorant to thin mucous and make coughing easier. Small doses are used to improve appetite.

Health professionals sometimes give ipecac by IV (intravenously) for hepatitis and pockets of infection (abscesses).

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Poisoning. Taking syrup of ipecac causes vomiting. This might help remove up to 54% of ingested poison when taken within 10 minutes of poisoning. However, taking ipecac 90 minutes after poisoning does not seem to be effective. Also, ipecac's effectiveness in preventing pediatric deaths with routine use at home has never been proven. In 1983 the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that all households keep a 1-ounce bottle of syrup of ipecac at home. Ipecac could then be used on the advice of a physician, emergency department, or poison control center to cause vomiting. However, this recommendation has been reversed. Ipecac does not seem to improve outcomes when given after poisonings to people who show minimal symptoms. Also, taking ipecac before other poison-specific antidotes that are taken by mouth might decrease the effects of these other antidotes and might increase the risk of aspiration pneumonia.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Thinning mucous to make coughing easier.
  • Bronchitis associated with croup.
  • Hepatitis.
  • Amoebic dysentery.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Cancer.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of ipecac for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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