Syrup of ipecac is a product made from the extract of dried root of ipecacuanha, a Brazilian plant. The syrup is an emetic, or stomach irritating agent which causes vomiting. It is used for emergency removal of toxic substances from the gastric system before absorption can take place when poison has been swallowed. This is a serious medication, and should never be taken without consulting a poison control center, your doctor, or an emergency room. The universal poison control center toll-free number is 800-222-1222.
Syrup of ipecac is typically carried by most pharmacies. However, since it is dangerous if used incorrectly, you'll have to ask the pharmacist for it. It is packaged in either ½-ounce or 1-oz. bottles. You'll be able to buy no more than one ounce without a prescription, but your medical professional can prescribe larger amounts. This product is also readily available from Internet retailers.
Store tightly sealed unused ipecac in a dark spot at room temperature out of the reach of children, pets and impaired individuals. Discard the bottle upon expiration.
This medication must never be used without the approval of a poison control center, your health professional, or an emergency room. Just because poisoning has occurred, it doesn't mean that syrup of ipecac is the right solution for the situation. Some substances should not be removed from the stomach by vomiting because they will cause far more injury or even pneumonia. They burn coming up just as they do in the gut, and further damage will be inflicted to the gastric system, esophagus and throat.
When poisoning occurs, syrup of ipecac should never be administered if petroleum distillate products or corrosives have been ingested. Gasoline, furniture polish, coal oil, kerosene, fuel oil and paint thinner are examples of petroleum distillates. Corrosives are either strong acids like toilet bowl cleaner or alkali products such as lye, dishwasher detergent, oven cleaners and drain cleaners.
Used correctly, syrup of ipecac can be administered to adults and children. However, the product should never be given to children under the age of one year or those who have an unrepaired oral defect; people with heart conditions; women in the final trimester of pregnancy; or to anyone who is sleepy, unconscious, or having seizures. Never administer syrup of ipecac if corrosives or petroleum distillates are known to have been ingested, or if chemical burns are present on or around the mouth. The burns indicate consumption of those caustic substances.
This medication should only be taken as directed. Consuming too much can cause damage to the heart and to other muscles, and can even kill. Never use ipecac to induce vomiting for the purpose of weight loss. When abused regularly in this manner, serious cardiac damage or even death can result.