Syrup of ipecac is an emetic (an agent used to cause vomiting) made from the dried root of a plant called ipecacuanha, which is grown in Brazil.
Ipecac was once recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as an important aspect of first aid for poisoning, as long as it was used only on the advice of a physician or poison control center.
Now, the organization asks its members to emphasize to parents to NOT use ipecac for poison control. The guidelines were published in the medical journal Pediatrics, as a result of growing evidence that ipecac use is not effective and can even interfere with other remedies for poison ingestion.
The AAP says the primary goal should be to prevent poisoning in the first place. The AAP recommends the following to parents:
Keep potential poisons out of sight and out of reach.
Always reengage child-resistant closures in the locked mode immediately after using a pharmaceutical or consumer product.
Never transfer a substance from its original to an alternate container.
Safely dispose of all unused and no longer needed medications.
Do not refer to medications as candy.
Post the poison control center number near the telephone. The universal telephone number in the United States is 800-222-1222. Calls are routed to the local poison control center.
For more information on ipecac guidelines, see the Online Resources section for a link to the AAP.