Ergot is the sclerotium or spawn of Claviceps purpurea, a fungus parasitic on the grain of rye and other grains.

Pharmacodynamics.

Central Nervous System. - Ergot stimulates the myoneural junctions of the lum-bothoracic sympathetic system. There is also some disturbance of the central nervous system.

Muscular System. - Unstriped muscle stimulated, especially the muscle of the uterine wall, which is acted upon by stimulation of the myoneural termination of the hypogastric nerve.

Respiration. - Not affected.

Heart is primarily accelerated by local irritation, then slowed by both centric and local action, and, possibly, by depression of the accelerator terminations.

Blood-pressure may fall slightly at first from increased heart action, but is soon and markedly elevated by direct stimulation of the terminations of the splanchnic vasoconstrictors.

Eye. - Pupil is strongly constricted from stimulation of the constrictor fibers of the iris.

Alimentary Tract. - Tone is reduced and peristalsis lessened through stimulation of the inhibitory fibers of the splanchnics.

Secretory Glands. - Somewhat inhibited.

Metabolism. - Obscurely disturbed in chronic poisoning.

Temperature. - Not affected.

Absorption. - Fairly rapid.

Excretion.

Symptoms.

Therapeutic Doses.

No symptoms. Ergotism: Type A.

Dry gangrene of extremities.

Skin necrosis.

Cataract. Type B.

Headache and giddiness.

Itching and formication.

Painful cramps in limbs.

Epileptiform convulsions.

Toxic Doses.

Headache.

Restlessness.

Delirium.

Weak rapid pulse.

Clamminess of skin.

Vomiting and diarrhea.

Hemorrhages:

Subcutaneous.

Internal.

Uterine. Collapse.

Therapeutics.

Ergot may be advantageously employed at the end of the second stage of labor as a preventive of postpartum hemorrhage.

Dosage.

Fluidextractum Ergotae, 2 to 4 mils.

Ergot 72

Crimson = stimulation. Violet = depression.