Ergot Pharmacognosy

Ergot Pharmacognosy

Ergot, Rye Ergot or Secale Cornutum (U. S. P. 1820 to 1947; N.F.) is the dried sclerotium of Clamceps purpurea (Fries) Tulasne, developed on rye plants.

Prepared Ergot or Powdered Defatted Ergot (N. F. 1947 to date) is ergot which has been powdered, immediately deprived of most of its fat, and dried.

The fungus has two distinct periods in its life history, an active and a resting stage. During the latter it forms a compact mycelium, or sclerotium, which replaces the flowers and grains of rye. The generic name Claviceps alludes to the club-like character of the sclerotium, purpurea to its purple color.

Ergot is picked by hand from the ears of rye, or it is separated after the threshing of the rye; it is carefully dried and preserved in rather tight containers against the attacks of insects by the use of small quantities of carbon tetrachloride or chloroform.

Ergot deteriorates when moist, even becoming moldy and rotten; it should be thoroughly dried, then kept in dry storage or transportation. The use of a cartridge of a nonliquifying, inert, dehydrating substance to maintain low humidity of the ergot, is desirable. Ergot deteriorates with aging, even though kept dry, yet well-preserved Prepared Ergot is known to have retained its therapeutic values for at least six years.

Various Properties of Ergot

CONSTITUENTS.—Ergot contains several active alkaloids (see below) and amines, as well as aminoacids, coloring matter, sterols, glycosides, sugars, 30 to 35 per cent of fixed oil, etc.

STANDARDS.—Ergot contains not more than 8 per cent of moisture, and Prepared Ergot not more than 6 per cent of moisture. For Tests of Identity and Purity see the National Formulary.

USES AND DOSE.—Ergot is a vasoconstrictor and antihemorrhagic, and stimulant of uterine contractions in parturition. Average dose: 2 gm.; of Prepared Ergot, 0.3 gm.




Barger and Carr (1906) 
Spira and Stoll (1920) 
Smith and Timmis Stoll and Burckhardt Thompson, Kharasch, Dudley and Moir (1935)

These alkaloids, in isomeric pairs, yield a common product, lysergic acid, and the isomerism is believed to occur in this part of the molecule. Other products of hydrolysis may differ for each pair of the alkaloids.

This information has been taken from...
“PHARMACOGNOSY” By Gathercoal and Wirth, Second Edition 1947