Domestic Encyclopædia (1802)/Ipecacuanha
IPECACUANHA, a medicinal root imported from the West Indies. There are three kinds distinguished by the eye, namely, the ash-coloured, or grey, brown, and white; but the first of these is justly preferred; for it is more efficacious than the white, and less violent in its operation than the brown sort.
The ash-coloured ipecacuanha, as imported from Peru, is a small wrinkled root, bent and contorted into a great variety of figures; its cortical part is compact, brittle, and on breaking, presents a smooth, resinous surface; it has little smell, but a somewhat bitter and sub-acrid taste, so that it covers the tongue with a kind of mucilage.
According to Geoffroy, Neumann, Dale, and Sir Hans Sloane, the roots of a kind of dog's bane (apocynum), are frequently substituted for the genuine ipecacuanha, and have in various instances produced fatal etfects. But, if the above-mentioned charaders be attended to, accidents of a similar nature may easily be obviated.
Ipecacuanha is one of the safest and mildest emetics, and possesses this peculiar advantage, that it passes off by the skin or bowels, if it should not operate by vomiting. In dysenteries, it is almost a specific, and often contributes to perform a cure in a very few days. When given in powder, its action is more certain than in any other form: hence it is now employed in many diseases, where full vomiting is indicated; for which purpose from 15 to 25 grains are prescribed for a full dose. It is also beneficially administered in very small doses, so as neither to operate by vomiting, purging, nor sweating; for instance, a third or fourth part of a grain, to be taken every half-hour or oftener, with a view to vellicate the intestinal canal, and by its nauseating effect, to give a different tone to the action of the stomach and bowels. Thus, it is recommended to be given in the paroxysm of spasmodic asthma, as well as in obstinate coughs; and a dose of 3 or 4 grains every morning, in chronical asthmatic cases.