Euphorbia ipecacuanha. American Ipecacuanha.
Nat. Ord. — Euphorbiaceae. Sec. Syst. — Dodecandria Trigynia, Linnaeus ; Monoecia Monadelphia, Michaux.
The Bark of the Root.
Description. — This plant, also known by the names of Wild Ipecac, Ipecac Spurge, Spurge, has a perennial, yellowish, irregular, succulent, and very long root, sometimes extending to a depth of six or seven feet, its thickest part being, when full-grown, from three-quarters of an inch to an inch and a half in diameter. The stems are numerous, herbaceous, erect or procumbent, rather thick and succulent, smooth, dichotomous, jointed at the forks, white under the ground, red, pale-green, or yellow above, sometimes almost buried in the sand, forming thick, low bunches upon its surface. The leaves are from an inch and a half to two inches long, and from three to six lines wide, inserted at the joints, opposite, sessile, entire, smooth, usually oval, but occasionally round, obovate, lanceolate, or linear, and varying in color from green to crimson; they also vary considerably in size. Stipules small, cordate. The flowers are small, solitary, on long, axillary peduncles. The calyx is spreading, with five exterior obtuse segments, with five small, gibbous, inner segments or nectaries. Stamens numerous, in five parcels, appearing at different times two or three together, with double anthers. The fertile flowers have a large, roundish, drooping, pedicelled germ, crowned with six revolute stigmas. The capsule is three-celled and contains three seeds.
History. — This is an indigenous plant, found growing in dry, sandy soil, on Long Island, in New Jersey, and the Middle and Southern States, and flowering from May to August. As with the E. Corollata, it yields a milky juice, which causes a pustular eruption when applied to the skin. The root is the part used in medicine; in the dried state it is light and brittle, of a grayish color externally, white within, inodorous, and of a sweetish not unpleasant taste. The powdered root is of a light-brown, or light snuff-color, speckled similar to the E. Corollata. Water or alcohol takes up its active properties. It has not been accurately analyzed, but is supposed to contain caoutchouc, resin, gum, and perhaps starch. Its incompatibles are probably the same as those of the E. Corollata.
Properties and Uses. — It very much resembles the E. Corollata in its actions upon the system, but is rather milder. It is emetic, diaphoretic, expectorant, and epispastic ; and may be used in the "same doses and for the same purposes as the Corollata; in dropsical affections it is preferred by some practitioners. When given in cathartic doses, say from three to ten grains, it is said to promote the menstrual discharge. As an emetic and cathartic it has been found valuable in bilious colic, but is superseded in this disease by the Dioscorea Villosa, which ac;s promptly and efficiently without any unpleasant symptoms. In dyspepsia one or two grains, repeated three times daily, will be found useful. The dose of the powdered root is from ten to fifteen grains as a hydragogue ; one to three grains as an expectorant and diaphoretic. It is occasionally used in jaundice and obstinate torpidity of the liver. It is principally used by Eclectics as a hydragogue in dropsical affections.