The treatment for many poisonings requires the removal of the toxic substances from the stomach before absorption occurs. Ipecac syrup is safer than many other methods for removing these toxic substances. Sticking your finger down a child's throat or using salt water are not as effective and can be dangerous to the victim.
What is it?
Ipecac is a plant extract made into a syrup that when swallowed, irritates the stomach and causes vomiting. The syrup will keep for several years, if stored at room temperature.
Who should (and shouldn't) use it?
Ipecac syrup can be used effectively with adults or children. Make sure you follow the correct procedures. Syrup of Ipecac should not be used if the child is under one year old; the person is very drowsy, unconscious, or having fits; the child has an unrepaired mouth defect; the person has a heart condition; the woman is in her last trimester of pregnancy.
Where can I get it?
Syrup of Ipecac can be obtained at any pharmacy. Ask your pharmacist for details.
When should I use it?
Ipecac syrup should not be used in every poisoning emergency. All poison ingestions do not require the removal of poison from the stomach. Syrup of ipecac should not be used if the poison contains a strong corrosive such as acid or lye; kerosene, gasoline, or other petroleum distillates; strychnine; narcotic drugs that cause rapid unconsciousness; a substance like camphorated oil that may cause convulsions. Before using ipecac syrup, check with your physician, pharmacist, or poison control center, to see if vomiting is necessary.
How is it used?
If vomiting with Ipecac Syrup is recommended by a physician or the poison control center, use the following procedure. For children one year of age or older: Give one tablespoon (15 ml or 3 teaspoons) of Ipecac Syrup. Follow with at least one 8 oz. glass of water - have the victim drink more water if possible. If vomiting has not occurred within 20 minutes, the dose of Ipecac Syrup can be repeated with more fluids. Only repeat dosage once. If vomiting does not occur, call your physician or the poison control center. Different doses of ipecac syrup may be recommended for children and adults of different sizes. Always consult a physician, pharmacist or poison control center before use.