IPECACUANHA symptoms of the homeopathy remedy from Plain Talks on Materia Medica with Comparisons by W.I. Pierce. What IPECACUANHA can be used for? Indications and personality of IPECACUANHA…



      This Brazilian shrub was first proved by Hahnemann. Ipecac produces an increase of the secretions from the gastro-intestinal and respiratory tracts, along with nausea and vomiting. This latter condition is key-note to the use of the remedy, for in almost all the diseases in which it is employed, the gastric symptoms are prominent, with the nausea constant, and usually with the additional characteristic of the tongue being clean.

If we were not dealing with such a serious subject as medicine, which means health and often like itself to the patient, it would be notice the shifts that the old school are put to, to explain and justify their appropriation of homoeopathic ideas. It would be a nice legal question to consider, whether a physician is not criminally liable when he refuses to learn how the health of those entrusted to his care may be benefited.

One old-school author, Bartholow, acknowledges his indebtedness to homoeopathy when he says: “It has long been known that Ipecacuanha, in small doses, has the power to arrest certain kinds of vomiting. Attending has recently been recalled to this curious fact. It is in nervous vomiting more especially that this remedy is useful; for example, in the vomiting of pregnancy, vomiting of drunkards, vomiting of migraine, etc. A minim of the vinum Ipecacuanha” (fl. ext. Ipecac., oz.2; sherry wine, oz. 30), “given every half hour or hour in a little water, will sometimes relieve these cases in a very remarkable manner.”

Because the doctor refuses to learn the principles of homoeopathy, he is obliged to add: “But it very frequently fails, and there are no indications at present known which will enable the practitioner to determine beforehand whether it will or will not be successful.” Of course, we do not consider vomiting, per se, as a reason for giving Ipecac; but if along with the vomiting we have the symptoms calling for the remedy, then we can expect it to cure, and not otherwise.


      The headaches of Ipecac may be neuralgic, or due to indigestion (97) and the pains may involve the eyes. The sensations in the head are of a bursting (104) or bruised character (91), or what is considered as more characteristic, a bruised or crushed feeling as if something pierced through the skull (103) from the vertex to the teeth or root of the tongue. Associated with this we have constant nausea and some vomiting.

In the eyes Ipecac is of value in phlyctenular conjunctivitis (76) and in ulcers on the cornea (77), especially when there is much redness and great photophobia. In inflammatory and neuralgic conditions, associated with the photophobia, there is a gush of tears whenever the spasmodically- closed lids are opened (76).

In the stomach the constant nausea is the prominent symptom. This nauseated state may be due to a disordered stomach from injudicious eating or from too great a mixture (6) associated with a white-coated or clean tongue, but it is especially the result of nervous irritability, or the accompaniment of the various troubles for which the remedy is useful, particularly haemorrhage from various organs of the body.

There is aversion to all food (6) and persistent nausea, which is not relieved even when they are able to vomit. There is a good deal of salivation (163) and the vomited matter consists largely of mucus and sometimes of blood. It is of value in the obstinate vomiting of blood from the stomach and would still be indicated if the blood was black (208) or tar-like. This is one of the many remedies where the stomach feels as if it hung down relaxed (179).

In diarrhoea, besides the ever-present nausea of the remedy, we find the stools green, green as grass. (59) or light-yellow blood and fermented, looking “like frothy molasses” (Hering). it is of value in diarrhoea from injudicious eating, in the beginning of cholera infantum nd in autumnal diarrhoea (58). There is not much colic associated with the stools but there is a relaxed feeling in the stomach or abdomen.

Ipecac is often useful in haematuria (85), especially from the kidneys, with cutting pains and nausea.

Menstruation is too frequent or too early and too profuse (135), with bright red blood, colic and persistent nausea.

It is of value for the nausea and vomiting (153), as well as for the salivation of pregnancy (155), with, as Lilienthal puts it, “one continual state of nausea.” It is of frequent use in threatening miscarriage (13), with bright red blood and nausea, and it is always to be kept in mind for haemorrhage following miscarriage or parturition (152) and in placenta praevia, with the constant nausea, faintness and gasping for breath. Many physicians make it a practice, at the end of labor, of leaving some Ipecac to be used in case haemorrhage should occur.

In asthma (19) and in spasmodic asthma (21), Ipecac could be used to advantage much oftener than it is. There is constriction of the throat, sensation of weight on the chest (29) and general fear of suffocation, with wheezing and rattling (45) but with little expectoration, and according to Lilienthal, of especial value for fat people, old or young, who are sensitive to a warm, moist atmosphere.

The cough here and in some other conditions may be dry, with a feeling of suffocation as though one had inhaled sulphur fumes (43), the patient becoming blue in the face, with coughing.

Usually the cough of Ipecac sounds loose and rattling (45), it occurs in paroxysms, is associated with nausea, and with the expectoration there is usually vomiting. It is a very valuable remedy in broncho-pneumonia (151), with loud mucous rales, paroxysmal cough, vomiting and sense of suffocation. In bronchitis there is a great accumulation of mucus, especially in the larger tubes, with profuse expectoration, associated with retching and vomiting.

It is frequently indicated in whooping cough and particularly so when the cough causes haemorrhage 947). The cough is paroxysmal, and besides causing retching and vomiting, is so violent that the child seems to lose his breath, gets blue in the face (47) and has haemorrhages into the eye, from the nose or from the lungs.

It is frequently called for in haemorrhage from the lungs (27), tubercular or otherwise, with gasping for breath, preceded by a sensation of bubbling in the chest and followed by expectoration of frothy mucus (69).

In intermittent fever calling for this remedy there is a perfectly developed paroxysm of chill, fever and sweat, but without any pronounced or deep-seated aching. There is persistent nausea, especially during the chill and fever and while there is seldom any thirst during the chill, there is great thirst (121) during the fever and the water taken is apt to be vomited.

It is to be thought of prominently where quinine has been administered (158) and mixed the case up, or where the symptoms presenting do not give clear-cut indications of any remedy. A few doses of Ipecac given at such times will often straighten out the case so that the proper remedy may be selected.

Ipecac is perhaps more useful in an acute or recent case, and Sulph. in a chronic case, where quinine has suppressed or changed the symptoms, so that one is unable to determine the character of the paroxysm.

I use Ipecac 3d.

Willard Ide Pierce
Willard Ide Pierce, author of Plain Talks on Materia Medica (1911) and Repertory of Cough, Better and Worse (1907). Dr. Willard Ide Pierce was a Director and Professor of Clinical Medicine at Kent's post-graduate school in Philadelphia.