Skip to content

Find a Vitamin or Supplement

IPECAC

Other Names:

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...
See All Names

IPECAC Overview
IPECAC Uses
IPECAC Side Effects
IPECAC Interactions
IPECAC Dosing
IPECAC Overview Information

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).

How does it work?

Ipecac contains chemicals that irritate the digestive tract and trigger the brain to cause vomiting.

IPECAC Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Possibly Effective for:


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 for:

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of ipecac for these uses.


IPECAC Side Effects & Safety

Ipecac is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth and used for a short time. It can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach irritation, dizziness, low blood pressure, shortness of breath, and a fast heartbeat.

Ipecac is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when allowed to touch the skin or when inhaled. Ipecac contains emetine, with can irritate the skin and respiratory tract.

Ipecac is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth long-term or in large amounts, as well as when injected at a dose of more than 1 gram. Misuse of ipecac can lead to serious poisoning, heart damage, and death. Signs of poisoning include difficulty breathing, digestive tract problems, abnormal heart rates, blood in the urine, convulsions, shock, coma, and death.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Children: Ipecac is LIKELY SAFE for children when used appropriately as a prescription product to induce vomiting. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation to keep a 1-ounce bottle of syrup of ipecac at home has recently been reversed. The new statement reads, “Syrup of ipecac should no longer be routinely used as a poison treatment intervention in the home.” The thinking is that keeping ipecac at home hasn’t been proven to save lives. Talk with your healthcare provider or poison control center about how to use ipecac correctly in cases of poisoning in children.

Ipecac is UNSAFE when used in high doses or in children under the age of one year. Children are more sensitive than adults to the side effects of ipecac. Misuse of ipecac can lead to serious poisoning, heart damage, and death. Signs of poisoning include difficulty breathing, digestive tract problems, abnormal heart rates, blood in the urine, convulsions, shock, coma, and death.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It is LIKELY UNSAFE to use ipecac if you are pregnant. It might stimulate the uterus and cause a miscarriage. Not enough is known about the safety of using ipecac if you are breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Unconsciousness or certain kinds of poisonings: Ipecac should not be used in people who are unconscious or have been poisoned with certain chemicals including corrosives, petroleum products, strychnine, and others. Talk to your healthcare provider or poison control center about whether ipecac is appropriate to use in each case of suspected poisoning. If ipecac is used incorrectly, serious complications can arise including damage of the esophagus, pneumonia, and convulsions.

Digestive tract problems including ulcers, infections, or Crohn's disease: Ipecac can irritate the digestive tract. Don’t use it if you have one of these conditions.

Heart disease: Ipecac can affect the heart. Don’t use it if you have a heart condition.

IPECAC Interactions What is this?

Major Interaction Do not take this combination

  • Activated charcoal interacts with IPECAC

    Activated charcoal can bind up syrup of ipecac in the stomach. This decreases the effectiveness of syrup of ipecac.


IPECAC Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • To cause vomiting after suspected poisoning: 15 mL ipecac syrup followed by 1-2 glasses of water. This dose may be repeated once in 20 minutes if vomiting does not occur. Before using ipecac syrup to treat poisoning, call a poison control hotline for advice. Ipecac syrup is available both as a nonprescription product and as an FDA-approved prescription product.

See 1 Reviews for this Treatment - OR -

Review this Treatment

Learn about User Reviews and read IMPORTANT information about user generated content

Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

Search for a Vitamin or Supplement

Ex. Ginseng, Vitamin C, Depression

Today on WebMD

Woman taking a vitamin or supplement
Article
Man taking a vitamin or supplement
Article
 
clams
Quiz
Woman in sun
Slideshow
 
Flaxseed added fiber
Video
!!69X75_Vitamins_Supplements.jpg
Evaluator
 
Woman sleeping
Article
Woman staring into space with coffee
Article
 
IMPORTANT: About This Section and Other User-Generated Content on WebMD

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, reviews, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatment or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD User-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.