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EB1911 Ipecacuanha.jpg

Ipecacuanha Plant (about ⅓ nat. size). 1, 2, Flowers cut open, showing short-styled (1) and long-styled (2) forms; 3, Flower after removal of corolla, showing the inferior ovary (o), the small toothed calyx (c), and the style (s) with its forked stigma; 4, Ovary cut lengthwise showing the two chambers with the basally attached ovules; r, annulated root.

Ipecacuanha root occurs in pieces about 2 or 3 lines in thickness, of a greyish-brown or reddish-brown tint externally, having a ringed or annulated surface (see r in fig.), and exhibiting a white or greyish interior and a hard wiry centre. It has a faint rather musty odour, and a bitterish taste. It is usually mixed with more or less of the slender subterranean stem, which has a very thin bark, and is thus easily distinguished from the root. The activity of the drug resides chiefly in the cortical portion, and hence the presence of the stem diminishes its value. The variety imported from Colombia and known as Cartagena ipecacuanha differs only in its larger size and in being less conspicuously annulated. Ipecacuanha owes its properties to the presence of rather more than 1% of the alkaloid emetine, which, with the exception of traces, occurs only in the cortical portion of the root. It is a white amorphous substance, with the formula C20H30NO5. It has a bitter taste, no odour, and turns yellow when exposed to air and light. There are also present a volatile oil, starch, gum, and a glucoside, which is a modification of tannin and is known as ipecacuanhic acid. The dose of the powdered root is ¼ to 2 grains when an expectorant action is desired, and from 15 to 30 grains when it is given as an emetic, which is one of its most valuable functions. The Pharmacopoeias contain a very large number of preparations of this substance, most of which are standardized. A preparation from which the emetine has been removed, and known as “de-emetized ipecacuanha,” is also in use for cases of dysentery.

When applied to the skin, ipecacuanha powder acts as a powerful irritant, even to the extent of causing pustulation. When inhaled it causes violent sneezing and a mild inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane, resembling a common cold in the head. It has feeble antiseptic properties. Small doses of ipecacuanha act as a stimulant to the secretions of the mouth, stomach, intestine and liver. The drug, therefore, increases appetite and aids digestion. Toxic doses cause gastro-enteritis, cardiac failure, dilatation of the blood-vessels, severe bronchitis and pulmonary inflammation closely resembling that seen in ordinary lobar pneumonia. In this respect and in its action on the skin, the drug resembles tartar emetic. Ipecacuanha is very frequently used as an expectorant in cases in which the bronchial secretion is deficient. Its diaphoretic properties are employed in the pulvis ipecacuanhae compositus or Dover’s powder, which contains one part of ipecacuanha powder and one part of opium in ten.

Other plants to which the name of ipecacuanha has been popularly applied are American ipecacuanha (Gillenia stipulacea), wild ipecacuanha (Euphorbia Ipecacuanha), bastard ipecacuanha (Asclepias curassavica), Guiana ipecacuanha (Boerhavia decumbens), Venezuela ipecacuanha (Sarcostemma glaucum), and ipecacuanha des Allemands (Vincetoxicum officinale). All these possess emetic properties to a greater or less degree.

The term poaya is applied in Brazil to emetic roots of several genera belonging to the natural orders Rubiaceae, Violaceae and Polygalaceae, and hence several different roots have from time to time been sent over to England as ipecacuanha; but none of them possesses the ringed or annulated appearance of the true drug. Of these the roots of Ionidium Ipecacuanha, Richardsonia scabra and Psychotria emetica are those which have most frequently been exported from Brazil or Colombia.

IPEK (Slav. Petch, Lat. Pescium), a town of Albania, European Turkey, in the vilayet of Kossovo and sanjak of Novibazar, 73 m. E.N.E. of Scutari, near the eastern base of the Mokra Planina, the Montenegrin frontier, and the headwaters of the Ibar and White Drin. Pop. (1905), about 15,000, principally Albanians and Serbs. A small stream bearing, like several others in the Balkan peninsula, the name of Bistritza (the bright or clear), flows through the town. On one of the neighbouring heights is situated the monastery of Ipek, founded by Archbishop Arsenius in the 13th century, and famous as the seat until 1690 of the patriarchs of the Servian church. The buildings are surrounded by thick walls, and comprise a large central church (Our Lady’s), and two side chapels (the Martyrs’ and St Demetrius’), each surmounted by a leaden cupola. The church dates from the 16th and 17th centuries. Among its numerous objects of interest are the white marble tombs of Arsenius and other chiefs of the Servian church, and the white marble throne on which the patriarchs were crowned. Ipek has been incorrectly identified by some writers with Doclea or Dioclea (Duklé in Montenegro), the birthplace of Diocletian, and the capital of a small principality which was overthrown by the Bulgarians in the 11th century.

See Barth, Reise durch das Innere der europäischen Turkei (Berlin, 1864); A. P. Irby and G. M. M. Mackenzie, Travels in the Slavonic Provinces of Turkey (1877); M. E. Durham, Through the Lands of the Serb (London, 1904).

IPHICRATES, Athenian general, son of a shoemaker, flourished in the earlier half of the 4th century B.C. He owes his fame as much to the improvements which he made in the accoutrements of the peltasts or light-armed mercenaries (so called from their small round shield, πέλτη) as to his military successes. Increasing the length of their javelins and swords, substituting linen corselets for their heavy coats-of-mail, and introducing the use of a kind of light leggings, called after him “iphicratides,” he increased greatly the rapidity of their movements (Diod. Sic. xv. 44). He also paid special attention to discipline, drill and manœuvres. With his peltasts Iphicrates seriously injured the allies of the Lacedaemonians in the Corinthian War, and in 392 (or 390) dealt the Spartans a heavy blow by almost annihilating a mora (battalion of about 600 men) of their famous hoplites (Diod. Sic. xiv. 91; Plutarch, Agesilaus, 22). Following up his success, he took city after city for the Athenians; but in consequence of a quarrel with the Argives he was transferred from Corinth to the Hellespont, where he was equally successful. After the peace of Antalcidas (387) he assisted Seuthes, king of the Thracian Odrysae, to recover his kingdom, and fought