The medicinal parts of the plant are the leaves or rhizome with the attached roots.
Flower and Fruit
The plant has small white flowers in peduncled cymes, 5 sepals, and a wheel-shaped corolla. There is a 5-lobed secondary corolla. There are 5 stamens whose anthers are fused to a 5-sectioned wreath. The two superior ovaries have a common stigma. The 5-cm long fruit is a glabrous, striped, clavate follicle. The seeds have silky tufts of hair.
Leaves, Stem, and Root
The plant grows from 30 to 100 cm. The underground creeping rhizome has heavily branched runners. The stem is unbranched, thin, and erect. The leaves are opposite, short petioled, ovate to oblong and entire-margined.
The fresh rhizome has an intensive odor. The taste is sweet, then bitter-hot. It is poisonous.
The plant is indigenous to Europe.
German Ipecac herb and rhizome are the leaves and rhizome (including attached roots) of Cynanchum vincetoxicum. The subterranean rhizome, including parts of the roots, are dug up in autumn, cleaned and quickly dried at temperatures of up to 50º C.
Actions & Pharmacology
Saponin-like 15-oxasteroide glycosides (mixture termed vincetoxin): aglycones including hirundigenin, anhydrohirundigenin, vincetogenin
Isoquinoline alkaloids: including tylophorine
The drug has diuretic, diaphoretic, digestive, and emmenagogic effects. The alkaloids have an antitumoral effect, and the chloroform extract has an antimicrobial effect.
Indications & Usage
The drug was formerly used as a diuretic, diaphoretic, and emetic, and for the treatment of kidney complaints, edema, the plague, snake bites, and dysmenorrhea. Today, it is used in the treatment of digestive and kidney disorders and for dysmenorrhea. The poultices heal swellings and bruising. The drug can also be found in homeopathic preparations.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
According to older scientific literature, “vincetoxin” in high dosages causes vomiting, apnea and cardiac paralysis in animal experiments. Seed extracts led to advancing paralysis of the central nervous system. Poisonings of humans have not been found in recent reports.
Mode of Administration
As an infusion, powdered drug, alcoholic extract, and homeopathic dilution.
The drug is prepared as an infusion.
The infusion should be administered under medical supervision.