Ergot is a drug extracted from a fungus growing on spoiled rye, and has the effect, when taken internally, of setting up contractions of involuntary muscles in every part of the body.It is therefore employed to stop bleeding from internal organs, especially the womb, prostate and intestines.
On account of its ability to contract the arteries it raises the blood pressure, slows the pulse and diminishes the blood supply to the limbs, making it dangerous to take in large doses or for too long a period, as it may cause gangrene.
It is given to women after childbirth because of its power to contract the womb and stop excessive bleeding.For that reason, it is often used by women to bring on abortion, for which it is of doubtful value.But it may be decidedly harmful to the general helath in a woman with heart disease or high blood pressure.
The average dose is half a teaspoonful of the fluid extract. It is also employed to stop attacks of migraine headache. At present, we have synthetic preparations of the active principle or ergot, which are much more powerful and more agreeable to take , but they are just as poisonous as the old ergot if taken to excess, or by the wrong patient.
The names of the new ergot preparations are ergoonovine and ergotamine, and they are dispensed in I/320 grain tablets, also the commonly known Gynergen which is much used for migraine in the tablet form or by injection is an ergotamine preparation