The Ipecac (Carapichea ipecacuanha (Brot.) L. Andersson, 2002) is a shrub species belonging to the Rubiaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
C. ipecacuana species.
Basionimo is the term:
– Callicocca ipecacuanha Brot.
The terms are synonymous:
– Cephaelis acuminata H.Karst.;
– Cephaelis ipecacuanha (Brot.) A.Rich.;
– Cephaelis ipecacuanha (Brot.) Willd.;
– Cephaëlis ipecacuanha (Brot.) Tussac, 1813;
– Evea ipecacuanha (Brot.) W.Wight;
– Ipecacuanha fusca Raf.;
– Ipecacuanha officinalis Arruda;
– Ipecacuanha preta Arruda;
– Ipecacuanha preta infrasubsp. Publ;
– Psychotria ipecacuanha (Brot.) Müll.Arg., 1881;
– Psychotria ipecacuanha (Brot.) Standl.;
– Psychotria ipecacuanha (Brot.) Stokes;
– Uragoga acuminata (H.Karst.) Farw.;
– Uragoga granatensis Baill.;
– Uragoga ipecacuanha (Brot.) Baill.;
The term Carapichea is of uncertain origin, most likely from the vernacular language of its area of origin.
The specific epithet ipecacuana comes from the Portuguese ipecacuanha, from a Tupian language (ipe̞kɐkuˈɐ̃ɲɐ) ipekaaguéne, from ipeh “low” + kaâ “leaves” + guéne “vomit”, in the original meaning, of a plant that makes you sick along the road.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Carapichea ipecacuanha is a plant native to an area that includes Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia and Brazil.
Its natural habitat is that of the undergrowth of the rainforests of South America.
Carapichea ipecacuanha is a shrubby species that reaches heights of about 50 cm.
The leaves are simple, opposite and stipulated, ovate, with a simple vein.
The flowers are whitish, actinomorphic and hermaphrodite with reduced calyx and corolla gamopetala pentamera. The stamens are epicorollins (inserted on the corolline tube alternating with the petals), the ovary is inferior.
The fruits are small spherical green berries that turn red when ripe.
Carapichea ipecacuanha is a plant that grows wild in the undergrowth of many areas of South America and is difficult to grow outside its natural rainforest habitat, attempts to cultivate it in Southeast Asia have had little success.
It is a slow-growing plant that prefers a minimum temperature in the range of 15 – 18 ° C and, from a pedological point of view, requires a well-drained humus-rich soil and a shady location; moreover it needs a lot of humidity to make it vegetate well.
Propagation can take place by seed or by cuttings, both of branches and roots to be rooted in a sandy compost. Plants are replanted after partial root removal.
Customs and Traditions –
Carapichea ipecacuanha is a plant that has been used in the folk medicine of the indigenous peoples of South America for many centuries.
This plant was known in Europe in the mid-17th century. Nicholas Culpeper, an English botanist, herbalist and physician, compared Ipecacuanha to the herb Orach in his book Complete Herbal & English Physician, published in 1653.
One of the earliest known imports of Ipecacuanha into Europe dates back to 1672, by a traveler named Legros, who imported a number of roots to Paris from South America. In 1680, a Parisian merchant named Garnier owned about 68 kilograms of the substance and informed physician Jean Claude Adrien Helvetius (1685–1755) of his power in treating dysentery. Helvetius was granted the exclusive right to sell the remedy to Louis XIV, but he sold the secret to the French government, which made the formula public in 1688.
Carapichea ipecacuana has a long history of use as an emetic, to empty the stomach in case of poisoning, a use that has been discontinued in the medical field (see ipecac syrup). It has also been used as a nauseating, expectorant and diaphoretic and has been prescribed to combat bronchitis. The most common and familiar preparation is ipecac syrup, commonly recommended as an emergency treatment for accidental poisoning until the late 20th century. Ipecacuanha was also traditionally used to induce sweating. A common preparation for this purpose was Dover powder.
In the 19th century, captive women at Cascades Female Factory, Tasmania, regularly received “a bean of ipecacuanha” as a precaution, especially “for women with gross health and fiery temperaments.”
Remember that the plant can be toxic in doses higher than those recommended for medicinal use. It should be used with caution as excess causes severe vomiting and diarrhea.
In medicinal use, the roots contain a series of medically active constituents including isoquinoline alkaloids, tannins and glycosides; in detail, it contains the alkaloid emetine (methylcepheline) and cephalin. It also contains a pseudo-tannin ipecacuanic acid or cephaelic acid.
The roots of this plant have a violently irritating action, stimulating the gastric and bronchial system, lowering fevers and preventing the formation of cysts in amoebic dysentery.
The roots are used internally in the treatment of cough, bronchitis, whooping cough and amoebic dysentery.
It is one of the safest emetics, even at moderate doses that induces vomiting up to provoking gastric emptying, very useful in the case of drug overdose.
A syrup is obtained to induce vomiting in children who have ingested toxins.
Smaller doses are strongly expectorant and is a common ingredient in proprietary cough medicines.
The plant is used in homeopathy in the treatment of nausea.
No other uses are known.
Preparation Method –
Carapichea ipecacuanha is a plant that has been used for a long time, starting from the traditional medicines of the indigenous peoples of South America.
Its roots are harvested, usually when they are about 3 years old and the plants are in bloom, and dried for later use.
The roots are used internally in the treatment of cough, bronchitis, pertussis and amoebic dysentery and, in moderate doses, induce vomiting.
From these a syrup is prepared to induce vomiting in children and smaller doses are useful as expectorants.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.