Cephaelis ipecacuanha, a species from the genus Cephaelis, is a native to Brazil. The plant first came to Europe in 1672. In 1680, it was discovered that ipecac, a syrup made from the ipecacuanha plant's roots, was an effective treatment for dysentery (severe disorder of the digestive system resulting in diarrhea containing blood and mucus). The formula was made public in 1688 by the french. It was later discovered that ipecac proved to be a powerful emetic.
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Medicinal Uses
Ipecac is used as a remedy for dysentery and was also widely used as an emetic (substance used to induce vomiting) to empty the stomach in case of poisoning. It has also been used as a nauseant, expectorant, and diaphoretic.
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Identification of Plant
  • 4-8 inches tall
  • oblong leaves with slightly hairy underside
  • has small white flowers in somewhat drooping heads
  • slender roots that are knotty and are grayish or reddish brown
  • bitter taste
  • has a faint but musty odor
For More on the Plant