Ipecacuanha, the common name for syrup of ipecacuanha, is an extract derived from the ipecacuanha plant. It has historically been used medicinally as a means of inducing vomiting, and was once commonly kept on-hand as an emergency treatment for cases of accidental poisoning. Today, the American Association of Poison Control Centers and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that ipecacuanha should not be used for this purpose, and the syrup is not as widely available as it once was. It can, however, be purchased online without a prescription.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Carefully read the general guidelines, precautions and history regarding ipecacuanha, preferably from an official health source. In the Resources section below, you'll find links to more information from the American Academy of Pediatrics and George Washington University. It is important to understand the potential risks of ipecacuanha and the medical community's evaluation of its effectiveness as a poisoning treatment before bringing it into your home, particularly if small children are in your home.
Call pharmacies, natural-medicine shops and vitamin retailers in your area to ask if they sell ipecacuanha if you would prefer to buy locally from brick-and-mortar retailers. It is important to call ahead because ipecacuanha is not commonly stocked, though you will not need a prescription to buy it from a retailer that carries it. If you can find it at a local store, stop by to read carefully the product label. You may even want to discuss the product with the in-store pharmacist or product specialist. This is important because of imitation products that profess to induce vomiting, but do not contain actual ipecacuanha.
Look online for sources of ipecacuanha. The best places to search are sites that specialise in natural medicine and internet shopping sites such as Google Shopping or Amazon. In the Resources section below, you can find links to internet search results that include multiple sources of ipecacuanha. Make sure you carefully read the details of each ipecacuanha product you're considering purchasing, and look for links to other pages that contain more information on the specific products. Again, this is important to ensure that the products contain actual ipecacuanha.
Purchase the ipecacuanha. If buying online, you may need a credit card.
Tips and warnings
- The health authorities who advise against using ipecacuanha for treatment of poisoning cite studies that indicate that the use of ipecacuanha to induce vomiting does not effectively remove the toxins from the victim's system. The studies also indicate that ipecacuanha can cause temporary symptoms that may make it more difficult for doctors to properly diagnose poisoned patients.
- Ipecacuanha can be abused by those with eating disorders.
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