Persuasive: Ipecac

Sei Eguchi
State University of New York at Plattsburgh

Such a feelin's comin' over me
There is wonder in most everything I see
Not a cloud in the sky
Got the sun in my eyes
And I won't be surprised if it's a dream

This is a famous song entitled "Top Of The World" by carpenters. 21 years have passed since Karen Carpenter died. Most people know the cause of her death. Karen suffered from the eating disorder, anorxia nervousa. Actually, according to Rader Programs, the organization providing treatments for the eating disorder, she died from the misuse of Ipecac syrup. Ipecac syrup caused severe damage to her heart, which eventually led to her going into cardiac arrest and subsequently dying. During the course of speech, first, we want to discuss the dangers associated with Ipecac Syrup. Next, we want to examine the harmful effect of Ipecac Syrup. Finally, we want to examine some possible solution for preventing such a problem.

The daily updated web news issued by Oklahoma college of Pharmacy says that Ipecac Syrup is made up of Ipecac, a plant extract that causes vomiting when swallowed. The syrup is intended to be used to make a person vomit in case of a poison emergency. Fortunately, Ipecac Syrup is widely believed the most effective and safest means of treating poisoning. According to, website updated daily, parents should keep a bottle of Ipecac Syrup at home for every child under six because poisonings are very common. In fact, Penn State Medical Center in November 2003 reported that estimated 2 million poisonings occur each year. And unfortunately, Ipecac Syrup was the preferred remedy by most families and hospital. Furthermore, according to Georgia Poison Center, the shelf of Ipecac Syrup is only five years and Dr. Milton Tenenbein, director of the Manitoba, Canada, poison control center, pointed out that most Americans purchase Ipecac Syrup because they now have a newborn to protect. Unfortunately, Florida Poison Center Aug 18 2003 reports most Ipecac Syrup have a shelf life of several years both in drug store or at home. This is especially threatening. According to the study of the Academy of Clinical Toxicology, Induced vomiting from Ipecac Syrup actually can do more harm than good

We can say Ipecac Syrup is dangerous. Drug and Poison Information Center in November 2003, provides further evidence. He discovered Ipecac syrup sometimes causes prolonged vomiting and lethargy similar to drowsiness that might be caused by an overdose of sedative pills. Moreover, Pale, the organization for Eating Disorders last updated February 29 2004 says that Ipecac causes severe vomiting but can have many side-effects, both short-term and long-term. These side-effects include dizziness, nausea, stomach cramps, respiratory difficulties, fast or irregular heartbeat, seizures and pneumonia. If the ipecac is not vomited or an individual overdoses, it can cause serious heart problems and even death. Therefore, the misuse of Ipecac Syrup is unquestionably dangerous.

Two common situations of Ipecac Syrup when is misused are overdose and diet abuse. Barbara Insley Crouch, director of the Utah Poison Control believes frequent use of ipecac drains the body of valuable nutrients such as potassium, which causes dehydration and could have a harmful effect on the heart. Also, according to the daily updated online encyclopedia by medical network inc., because ipecac stays in the body for a long time, damage to the heart frequently occurs in persons who repeatedly take ipecac to induce vomiting. The Adverse Event Report System May 6 2003 revealed 17 adverse events in which Ipecac was used to treat accidental ingestion or intentional overdose in nine cases, and six involved ipecac abuse in women between 19 and 33 years old with bulimia. Two reports did not contain description. It is notable that 8 out of 15 ipecac users involved fatalities. Others caused myopathy, a sort of severe muscle disorder, eye pain and many other serious diseases.

These must be the tip of iceberg but we cannot clarify the whole picture, because there are only limited data on Ipecac. The Food and Drug Administration says that it is not surprising that the Adverse Event Report System data on ipecac are very limited. Since Ipecac is an Over-The-Counter monograph product there is no requirement for a drug company to submit adverse event reports to the FDA. But we know for sure that Ipecac can cause serious problems if we use it. Therefore, we need to examine several recommendations.

There are three possible solutions for this problem. First, we should throw all Ipecac Syrup away from our home. According to the article of the Salt Lake Tribune "Ipecac loses favor with poison-control experts" February 10, 2004, doctors with the AAP say the risks of using ipecac outweigh the benefits" Some may say we need Ipecac Syrup in case of emergencies. However, according to the article of Pediatric "Throw out Syrup of Ipecac" February 23 2004, there is no specific evidence that using Ipecac Syrup at home improve in patient outcome, especially the cases involving children poisoning. Since Ipecac usually back cupboards, it may take some time to locate, but your cupboards will undoubtedly be more organized and cleaner as a result. Moreover, the National Capital Poison recommends asking a doctor or poisoning control center if the use of Ipecac Syrup is appropriate because with some accidental poisoning, vomiting is extremely dangerous. This is especially true with a strong acid or anything that has petroleum or strychnine, according to the article of Healthy Roads "Ipecac" in January of this year. Furthermore, the death caused by poisoning has become uncommon in recent year. The American Association of Poison Control Centers, reported the rate of deaths by poisoning has decreased dramatically over the past 50 years, from 500 to 25 per year. Second, the sales of Ipecac Syrup should be banned. In fact, The FDA is now considering removing Ipecac Syrup from the market. Third, instead of ipecac syrup, we should post universal phone number for poison control center near the phone 800-222-1222 or 911. We should call for help in emergencies.

We've examined why we should abandon Ipecac syrup. Ipecac Syrup has some serious side effects and is often misused; overdosing from Ipecac Syrup and diet abuse can cause death. Karen Carpenter was the beloved artists all over the world. But we lost her. We don't any more lives lost by Ipecac Syrup. Therefore, now is the time to say goodbye to Ipecac Syrup. Good bye!

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