This section is from the book "Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics", by W. Hale White. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics..
Synonym. - Ergot of Rye. The sclerotium of Claviceps purpurea (Fries) Tulasne (class Fungi), replacing the grain of rye, Secale cereale Linne (nat. ord. Gramineae).
Spain and Russia.
Somewhat fusiform, obtusely triangular, usually curved, about 2 or 3 cm. long, and 3 mm. thick; three-furrowed, obtuse at both ends, purplish-black, internally whitish with some purplish striae, breaking with a short fracture; odor peculiar, heavy; taste oily and disagreeable.
The chief constituents are - (1) Ergotine, C50H52N2O3, an amorphous alkaloid, feebly bitter; soluble in Alcohol and water. (2) Ecboline, an amorphous alkaloid, slightly bitter; soluble in water and Alcohol. (3) Ergotinine, C35H40N4O6, a crystalline alkaloid, slightly bitter. (4) Sphacelic Acid known also as Sphacelotoxin, a non-nitrogenous, unstable body, insoluble in water, soluble in alkalies. It is believed to be the active agent in contracting the blood-vessels. (5) Cornutine, an active alkaloid, not only contracts the blood-vessels but is believed to be the agent which contracts the uterus. This is the chief active constituent of alcoholic extracts of Ergot. (6) Sclerotinic, Ergotinic or Ergotic Acid, I to 4 per cent., soluble in water and alkalies, having ecbolic properties. This is really a mixture of Sphacelic Acid and Cornutine. (7) A fixed oil, 30 per cent. (8) Tri-methylamine, to which the odor is due. (9) Tannic Acid. Many other bodies have been found in Ergot, but those given are believed to be the more important; the composition of Ergot is not yet certainly made out.
Dose, 30 to 60 gr.; 2. to 4. gm.
Dose, 1/2 to 1 fl. dr.; 2. to 3. c.c.
2. Extractum Ergotae. - Extract of Ergot. Synonym. - Ergotin. Fluid Extract of Ergot. By evaporation to a pilular consistence.
Dose, 5 to 15 gr.; .30 to 1.00 gm.
3. Vinum Ergotae. - Wine of Ergot. Ergot, 150. By percolation with White Wine, 150; and Alcohol, to 1000. Dose, 1 to 4 fl. dr.; .4 to .15 c.c.
It is said that Ammonia is the best solvent for the active principles of Ergot. It may be extemporaneously prescribed as follows: Ergot, 1; Aromatic Spirit of Ammonia, 2. Dose, 10 to 60 m.; .60 to 4.00 c.c.