The New International Encyclopædia/Ipecacuanha

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IPECACUANHA, ĭpē̇-kăkū̇-ăn′ȧ (Port., from Brazilian ipecaaguen, smaller wayside plant emetic, the native name). The name both of a very valuable medicine and of the plant producing it. According to the American and English pharmacopœias the source of this drug is Cephaelis ipecacuanha (referred by some botanists to Psychotria ipecacuanha), which belongs to the natural order Rubiaceæ, and grows in damp, shady woods in Brazil, and some other parts of South America. It is somewhat shrubby, with a few oblong-lanceolate leaves near the ends of the branches, long-stalked heads of small white flowers, and soft, dark purple berries. The part of ipecacuanha used in medicine is the root, which is simple or divided into a few branches, flexuous, about as thick as a goose-quill, and is composed of rings of various size, somewhat fleshy when fresh, and appearing as if closely strung on a central woody cord. The different kinds known in commerce (gray, red, brown) are all produced by the same plant, the differences arising from the age of the plant, the mode of drying, etc. Ipecacuanha-root is prepared for the market by mere drying. It is collected at all seasons, although chiefly from January to March. The plant is seldom cultivated in South America, but is sought for in the forests chiefly by Indians. It has been successfully cultivated in India, and elsewhere, but the slow growth of the plant and low price have kept it from being profitable. Various other plants are used as substitutes for it. The ipecacuanha of Venezuela is produced by Sarcostemma glaucum, of the order Asclepiadaceæ; and to this order belongs Tylophora asthmatica, the root of which is found a valuable substitute for ipecacuanha in India. Other unofficinal plants which are said to resemble ipecac in their effect are Richardsonia pilosa, Richardsonia rosea, Psychotria emetica, and various species of Ionidium. Gillenia stipulacea is called American ipecac.

a. Root.

It is in the bark of the root that the active principle, the emetine, almost wholly lies, the other ingredients, such as fatty matters, starch, pectine, saccharose, choline, ligline, etc., being almost entirely inert. Emetine is represented by the formula C28H40N2O5 according to Lefort and Wurtz, and by C30H44N2O4, according to Glenard. It is a white, inodorous, almost insipid powder, moderately soluble in alcohol, and having all the characters of the vegetable alkaloids. It acts as a violent emetic in doses of one-sixteenth of a grain or even less, and is a powerful poison. In small and repeated doses ipecacuanha increases the activity of the secreting organs, especially of the bronchial mucous membrane, and of the skin. In larger doses it excites nausea and depression, while in still larger doses it acts as an emetic, without producing such violent action, or so much nausea or depression, as tartar emetic. Ipecacuanha is useful as an emetic when it is necessary to unload the stomach in cases where there is great debility, or in childhood. As a nauseant, expectorant, and diaphoretic, it is prescribed in bronchitis, etc., and in disorders in which it is desired to increase the action of the skin. Besides the powder, the most useful preparations are the wine of ipecacuanha and Dover's powder, in which ipecacuanha is a constituent. To produce the full effect as a sudorific, a dose of Dover's powder should be followed by copious draughts of some warm and harmless drink.