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Ipecacuana in Herbalist: Property of Ipecacuana

Scientific name

Cephaelis ipecacuanha




central America

Used Parts

Drug consisting of the roots (Pharmacopoeia)

Chemical constituents

  • Alkaloids (in particular emetin, psicotrin, cefeline);
  • saponins;
  • mucilage;
  • Iridoid glycosides;
  • Tannins;
  • Hypecacuanic acid;
  • Monoterpenic alkaloids.

Ipecacuana in Herbalist: Property of Ipecacuana

Ipecacuana was used as an expectorant in relation to the emetine content, an alkaloid with an irritative action that causes a fluidification of bronchopulmonary secretion, facilitating its expulsion with cough. At doses higher than those expectorants it becomes irritating to the stomach, causing vomiting; currently the ipecacuanana is used only as a syrup to cause vomiting after the ingestion of toxic substances.


Prolonged use of ipecacuana is contraindicated in cases of organic heart disease. All emetics are contraindicated when they have been ingested corrosive, because they determine a new contact with the esophageal mucosa. Avoid using ipecacuan in the event of hypersensitivity to one or more components.

Pharmacological Interactions

  • the use of ipecacuan in strychnine poisonings may be responsible for seizures.