Name: Ergot



A parasitic fungus that infects the ovary of flowering cereals. On affected plants, instead of caryopses, ergot horns-sclerotia of a dark purple color are found. Sclerotia are dense plexuses of the mycelium – hyphae of the fungus, 1/3 cm long. When ripe, they fall to the ground, winter in the soil, and in the spring they germinate with capitate formations on legs (slings). Fruiting bodies with spores develop on slings. The spores are dispersed by wind when mature and infect new plants. The horns are very poisonous, having got into the grain and being ground together with it, they poison the flour. Eating flour affected by ergot causes poisoning – “evil writhing”. Ergot appears in crops of rye and other cereals in late June – early July. Horns are harvested from rye in dry weather and dried in the shade.

Ergot does not have specific areas of distribution. It develops in cereal crops, more often rye. Found on wild cereals.

Medicinal raw materials are sclerotia horns. Finished raw materials – well-dried, brittle, whole sclerotia – should not contain crushed sclerotia. The raw materials are stored in a dark place. Storage period 1 year.

In scientific medicine, ergot has long been a recognized uterine remedy. It is used in the form of a powder, liquid and thick extract or new leg products as a uterine hemostatic agent in obstetric and gynecological practice. Alkaloids controversial cause a powerful and prolonged contraction of the uterine muscles, while squeezing the vessels of the uterus, help stop bleeding. Vigorous contraction of the muscles of the uterus, caused by ergot alkaloids, also accelerates the involution of the uterus after childbirth. Hydrogenated ergot alkaloids do not have a selective effect on the uterus and, in combination with various medicinal substances, are used as sedatives and antihypertensives for neurosis, irritability, insomnia, pymacteric neurosis, vasospasm, hypertension and other diseases.

Ergot preparations are poisonous and can cause poisoning. Chronic poisoning often occurs when eating flour from grain infected with ergot, and manifests itself in 2 forms: gangrenous and convulsive. Acute poisoning is likely with the use of large doses of ergot and is characterized by the following symptoms: headache, nausea, vomiting, weak, rapid pulse, pain in the heart, movement and speech disorders, agitation, convulsions, severe respiratory failure, until it stops.

Help with acute ergot poisoning: gastric lavage with a weak solution of potassium permanganate, inducing vomiting, the appointment of laxatives, blood transfusion, the introduction of blood substitute fluids and funds that support the activity of the heart and breathing. With convulsions – warm baths, inhalation of amyl nitrate.

Since ergot is toxic and can cause poisoning, the use of its products should be made only as directed and under the supervision of a physician.

Ergot is used in the form of powder, infusion (1:30), liquid and thick extract. Store with care (list B).

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