Scientific name: Psychotria ipecacuanha

Common names:

Ayurvedic names:

Chinese names:

Bangladesh names:

Arabic names:    عرق الذهب (‘Araqu adhahab)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Rubiaceae

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Whole herb, sprouts


Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: Upto 25 cm

Actions:  Expectorant, emetic, sialogogue, anti-protozoal

Known Constituents:  Alkaloids including emetine and cephaline; glycosial tannins incluging ipecauanhic acid and ipecacuanhin, ipecoside, starch, calcium oxalate

Constituents Explained:


Traditional Use:

A powerful respiaraotry herb that has powerful expectroant properties, at higher dosages it can induce vomiting, which has seen it sometimes used in cases of poisoning.

Clinical Studies:

Twelve adult volunteers were given 24 81-mg aspirin tablets and were randomly assigned into the following treatment groups: (1) control aspirin, (2) 30 mL of ipecac repeated if vomiting not induced, (3) 60 g of activated charcoal per 15 g of magnesium sulfate (MgSO4), and (4) ipecac repeated if needed, followed by activated charcoal/MgSO4 given 1 1/2 hours after the last vomiting episode. 

All treatments began 60 minutes following aspirin ingestion. Urine was collected for 48 hours for percent total salicylate excretion.

Ten subjects completed the study. In group 4, eight of ten subjects vomited the activated charcoal/MgSO4 immediately, making statistical analysis impossible. Analysis revealed that activated charcoal/MgSO4 significantly lowered the absorption of aspirin compared with the control and ipecac-treated groups.

Furthermore, ipecac significantly lowered aspirin absorption compared with the control group. 


Curtis RA, Barone J, Giacona N. “Efficacy Of Ipecac And Activated Charcoal/Cathartic. Prevention Od Salicylate Absorption In A Simulated Overdose.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6140906



Other names: Cephaelis Ipecacuanha

Latin name: Psychotria Ipecacuanha

Family: Rubiaceae

Common part used: Root

The plant is found in Brazil, mostly in moist woods with sandy soils. 

It is a small shrubby plant with a thin stem, some part of which grows underground. The lower portion of the stem’s base forms the knots. These knots grow into the rootlets, and some of them turn into enormously thick bark. They are gathered, dried, and used for the medicinal purposes, because the bark contains some valuable active components. Usually the rootlets are collected when the plant is in bloom, which usually happens in winter months, in January and February. 

Ipecacuanha is a plant with a long history of functioning as a healing herb. It has been used since ancient times as an emetic, for emptying the stomach in cases of poisoning. It was also used as a remedy for bronchitis, and as a nauseant, diaphoretic and expectorant medicine. Until the latest years of the last century it was common as a syrup, used as an emergency remedy for poisoning. The Indians used to appreciate these plants a lot, and made sure to collect them in time, separate the roots from the stem and hang them to dry in the sun until they were ready to use as an antipoisoning remedy ingredient.

 Different types of the roots are known in commerce today: brown, green and red, are actually developed from the same plant. The difference is caused by the age of the Ipecacuanha plant and the way it was cleaned and dried. It is widely used as an effective remedy for dysentery. 

If grated into powder and employed externally, the ipecacuanha root acts as a very powerful irritant. To avoid unpleasant consequences, it is better not to apply a larger amount of this powder.