This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
COMMON NAMES. Spurred or Smut Rye.
MEDICINAL PART. The degenerated seeds.
Description. -- Ergot is the name given to the fungoid, degenerated seeds of the common rye, which is the result of a parasitic plant called Oidium Abortifaciens.
History. -- Ergot consists of grains, varying in length, of a violet-black color; odor fishy, peculiar, and nauseous. Their taste is not very marked, but is disagreeable and slightly acrid. They should be gathered previous to harvest.
Properties and Uses. -- Ergot has a remarkable effect upon the human system, and when persisted in for a length of time as an article of food manifests certain symptoms termed ergotism. Its chief use as a medicine is to promote uterine contractions in slow, natural labors. It is also useful in checking menorrhagia, uterine hemorrhages, and to expel polypi. It is also employed in gonorrhoea, amenorrhoea, paraplegia, paralysis of the bladder, fever and ague.
This is a valuable remedy to the obstetrician and midwife, but its use should not be persisted in too long, as it often produces dangerous symptoms.
Dose. -- Of the powder, five, ten, or fifteen grains; fluid extract, thirty drops.