There is universal concurrence of opinion at the present time in regard to the highly specific effect of ipecac, as well as of its constituent alkaloids, on the vegetative forms of the pathogenic endameba. Though the ipecacuanha plant, and especially its root, has been employed since remote times as an empiric remedy in the treatment of many varieties of intestinal disorders, it is only within comparatively recent years that recognition of its sole and distinctive value in endamebic disease has been definitely reached.
An interesting and diversified history surrounds the earlier use of ipecac as a therapeutic agent, traceable back as far even as the beginning of the Middle Ages. It was first introduced into Europe in 1648 in the guise of a secret remedy for dysentery, having gained considerable repute originally among the natives of Brazil for its usefulness in this class of affections. The story is related that