Herbs & Plants


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Botanical Name :  Psychotria Ipecacuanha
C. ipecacuanha

Synonym: Cephaelis Ipecacuanha,Carapichea ipecacuanha

Common name :Ipecacuanha

Habitat :Ipecacuanha is native to Brazil. It grows in clumps or patches, in moist, shady woods.

Ipecacuanha has a slender stem which grows partly underground and is often procumbent at the base, the lower portion being knotted.

Fibrous rootlets are given off from the knots, and some of them develop an abnormally thick bark, in which much starch is deposited.

The thickened rootlets alone are collected and dried for medicinal use, since the active constituents of the drug are found chiefly in the bark.

Ipecacuanha roots are collected, chiefly by the Indians, during the months of January and February, when the plant is in flower and are prepared by separation from the stem, cleaning and hanging in bundles to dry in the sun.

The drug is known in commerce as Brazilian or Rio Ipecacuanha.

The part of ipecacuanha used in medicine is the root, which is simple or divided into a few branches, flexuous, 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. Various other plants are used as substitutes for it.

Similar plants:
Ipecacuanha is a slow-growing plant, which reduces its commercial appeal as a crop plant. It is seldom cultivated in South America but it has been cultivated in India and elsewhere.

The following plants have been used as substitutes for ipecacuanha.[citation needed]

*Euphorbia ipecacuanhae, wild ipecacuanha from North America
*Sarcostemma glaucum, a Venezuelan plant of the Apocynaceae family
*Tylophora asthmatica, in India
*Gillenia stipulata, American ipecac
*Richardsonia pilosa, Richardsonia rosea, Psychotria emetica and various species of Ionidium have been used too

Medicinal Uses:

Part Used: Root

Constituents: The chief constituents of Ipecacuanha root are the alkaloids Emetine, Cephaelin and Psychotrine, of which the bark may contain from 1.5 to 2 per cent, of which about 72 per cent consists of Emetine and 26 per cent of Cephaelin, while only 2 per cent consists of Psychotrine.

Emetine, to which Ipecacuanha owes its properties and which, with the exception of traces, occurs only in the cortical portion of the root, is an amorphous white powder, but it forms crystalline salts. It has a bitter taste, no odour and turns yellow when exposed to air and light.

Other constituents are a crystalline saponin- like glucoside, an amorphous, bitter glucoside, which is a modification of tannin, and is known as Ipecacuanhic acid, choline, resin, pectin, starch, sugar, calcium oxalate, odorous, fatty matter and a disagreeable-smelling volatile oil.

Cartagena Ipecacuanha contains 2 to 3 per cent more alkaloidal matter than the Brazilian drug, but a smaller proportion of Emetine, Cephaelin being the alkaloid present in largest quantities.

East Indian Ipecacuanha and White Ipecacuanha contain minute quantities of emetic principles, which differ from the alkaloids of true Ipecacuanha, but the Undulated and Striated Ipecacuanha contain Emetine.

In large doses, Ipecacuanha root is emetic; in smaller doses, diaphoretic and expectorant, and in still smaller, stimulating to the stomach, intestines and liver, exciting appetite and facilitating digestion.

The dose of the powdered root is 1/4 to 2 grains when an expectorant action is desired (it is frequently used in the treatment of bronchitis and laryngitis, combined with other drugs, aiding in the expulsion of the morbid product), and from 15 to 30 grains when given as an emetic, which is one of its most valuable functions.

The Pharmacopoeias contain a very large number of preparations of Ipecacuanha, most of which are standardized.

Ipecacuanha has been known for more than a century to benefit amoebic (or tropical) dysentery, and is regarded as the specific treatment, but the administration of the drug by mouth was limited by its action as an emetic. Sir Leonard Rogers showed in 1912 that subcutaneous injections of the alkaloid Emetine, the chief active principle present in Ipecacuanha usually produced a rapid cure in cases of amoebic dysentery. The toxic action of Emetine on the heart must be watched. A preparation from which the Emetine has been removed, known as de-emetized Ipecacuanha, is also in use for cases of dysentery.

The great value of the drug in dysentery and its rapid increase in price from an average of 2s. 9 1/2d. per lb. in 1850 to about 8s. 9d. per lb. in 1870, led to attempts to acclimatize the plant in India, but without much commercial success, owing to the difficulty of finding suitable places for its cultivation and to its slowness of growth. It is grown to a limited extent in the Malay States, at Johore, near Singapore. In December, 1915, the Brazil root was valued at 24s. per lb. and the Johore root at 20s. per lb. At the same time, Cartagena root sold for 16s. per lb. It would probably pay to grow this plant more extensively in the British Colonies.

The diaphoretic properties are employed in the Pulvis Ipecacuanhaea compositus, or Dover’s Powder, which contains 1 part of Ipecacuanha powder and 1 part of Opium in 10.

Known Hazards:
When applied to the skin, Ipecacuanha powder acts as a powerful irritant, even to the extent of causing pustulations.

When inhaled, it causes sneezing and a mild inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane.

Toxic doses cause gastro-enteritis, cardiac failure, dilation of the blood-vessels, severe bronchitis and pulmonary inflammation.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.



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