Vomit therapy was a legitimate treatment for some types of poisoning in Western medicine until recently. Usually syrup of ipecac (derived from roots of the plant Carapichea ipecacuanha) was advised to induce vomiting. A 2005 analysis concluded that "circumstances in which ipecac-induced emesis is the appropriate or desired method of gastric decontamination are rare." Ipecac is no longer recommended for poison treatment except under rare circumstances under medical treatment.
In Ayurvedic medicine, vomiting (vamana) is used for prevention or treatment of many diseases conditions: acne, anemia, anorexia, asthma, bronchitis (allergic), cold, cough, diabetes, diabetes, dyslipidemia, eczema, edema, epilepsy, fever, hyperacidity, indigestion, loss of appetite, lymphatic obstruction, migraine, nausea, obesity, poisoning, psoriasis, rhinitis, sinus problems, sinusitis, skin diseases, tonsillitis, and urticaria. In Ayurveda, vomiting is usually induced by a drink containing either licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) and honey, or calamus root (Acorus calamus). Yes, vomiting has been claimed to prevent anorexia!
While vomiting once in a while is usually not dangerous, excessive vomiting can cause dehydration, esophageal tears, and damage to teeth. Given that vamana has little or no demonstrated efficacy for its many claims, that it can be dangerous, and that there are safe efficacious Western medical treatments for most of the conditions that it is claimed to treat, vamana is not recommended.
Wat Thamkrabok (วัดถ้ำกระบอก) is a Buddhist temple in Thailand that is known for among other things its opioid drug rehabilitation/detoxification program. The treatment program includes Asian herbal supplements, relaxation and vomiting; supposedly the vomiting part is only 5% of the healing process, though how that's calculated isn't clear. The secret vomiting potion includes 100 or so different herbs. The efficacy of this treatment is unknown, but it has attracted a few Western drug addicts for treatment. In fairness, US treatment of drug and alcohol addiction may not be much better with large amounts devoted to 12-step derived programs, whose efficacy is not very good at all.
- Guideline on the use of ipecac syrup in the out-of-hospital management of ingested poisons by A. S. Manoguerra et al. Clin. Toxicol. (Phila). 2005;43(1):1-10.
- Ayurveda — Panchakarma, holistic-online.com.
- A study on Vasantika Vamana (therapeutic emesis in spring season) — A preventive measure for diseases of Kapha origin by Santoshkumar Bhatted et al. Ayu. 2011 Apr-Jun; 32(2): 181–186. doi:10.4103/0974-8520.92562.
- Nausea and Vomiting WebMD
- Bulimia’s Effect on Teeth by Stephanie Watson (October 14, 2016) Healthline
- Panchakarma: Ayurvedic Detoxification and Allied Therapies—Is There Any Evidence? by Sivarama Prasad Vinjamury. In: Evidence-Based Practice in Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Perspectives, Protocols, Problems and Potential in Ayurveda, edited by Sanjeev Rastogi (2012). ISBN 9783642245640.
- Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation by Judith M. Glassgold et al. (2009) American Psychological Association.
- Why Do Addicts Seek Out Thailand’s ‘Vomit Temple’ for Rehab? A secluded monastery in Thailand offers free drug rehabilitation, starting with a vomit detox Zachary Siegel (10.07.15 10:00 PM ET) The Daily Beast.
- Thai Temple Rehab Prescribes Puking by Hunter R. Slaton (02/13/12) The Fix.
- Last Resort Rehab: Australians turn to Thailand's vomit temple to cure meth addiction by Hannah Osborne (September 29, 2015 13:13 BST) International Business Times.
- 2009 State Profile — United States National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS) Substance Abuse & mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services