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ERGOT

Other Names:

Claviceps purpurea, Cockspur Rye, Cornezuelo, Ergot de Seigle, Hornseed, Mai Jiao, Mother of Rye, Secale Cornutum, Smut Rye, Spurred Rye.

 Overview
 Uses
 Side Effects
 Interactions
 Dosing
Overview Information

Ergot is a fungus that grows on rye and less commonly on other grasses such as wheat.

Ergot has an interesting history. During the Middle Ages, ergotism, a severe reaction to ergot-contaminated food (such as rye bread), was common and was known as St. Anthony's fire. This illness was often cured by visiting the shrine of St. Anthony, which happened to be in an ergot-free region of France. Additionally, some historians believe that ergot played a role in the Salem witch hunt of 1692. They think that some women in Salem developed peculiar behaviors as a result of eating ergot-contaminated food. These behaviors later got them charged as witches and burned at the stake.

Despite serious safety concerns, ergot has been used as medicine. Women use it to treat excessive bleeding during menstrual periods, at the start of menopause, and before and after miscarriage. They also use ergot after childbirth to expel the placenta and contract the uterus. Historically, ergot was used to speed up labor, but its use was abandoned when people made a connection between the use of ergot and an increased number of stillbirths.

Certain chemicals in ergot are used in prescription medicines.

How does it work?

Ergot contains chemicals that can help reduce bleeding by causing a narrowing of the blood vessels.

Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Insufficient Evidence for:

  • Reducing bleeding during menstruation, in menopause, and in connection with miscarriage.
  • Expelling the placenta after childbirth.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of ergot for these uses.


Side Effects & Safety

Ergot is UNSAFE. There is a high risk of poisoning, and it can be fatal. Early symptoms of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, muscle pain and weakness, numbness, itching, and rapid or slow heartbeat. Ergot poisoning can progress to gangrene, vision problems, confusion, spasms, convulsions, unconsciousness, and death.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

It is UNSAFE for anyone to use ergot, but some people have extra reasons not to use it:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It’s UNSAFE to use ergot. Ergot has many effects that can be harmful during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Don’t use it.

Heart disease: Ergot can narrow blood vessels and make heart disease worse.

Kidney disease: People with kidney problems are not able to flush ergot out of their bodies well enough. This can cause ergo to build up, and that increases the risk of ergot poisoning.

Liver disease: People with liver problems are not able to remove ergot from their bodies well enough. This can cause ergo to build up, and that increases the risk of ergot poisoning.

Narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the legs and feet (peripheral vascular disease): Ergot can narrow blood vessels and make this condition worse.

Interactions What is this?

Major Interaction Do not take this combination

  • Medications for depression (Antidepressant drugs) interacts with ERGOT

    Ergot increases a brain chemical called serotonin. Some medications for depression also increase the brain chemical serotonin. Taking ergot along with these medications for depression might increase serotonin too much and cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety. Do not take ergot if you are taking medications for depression.
    Some of these medications for depression include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), amitriptyline (Elavil), clomipramine (Anafranil), imipramine (Tofranil), and others.

  • Medications for depression (MAOIs) interacts with ERGOT

    Ergot increases a chemical in the brain. This chemical is called serotonin. Some medications used for depression also increase serotonin. Taking ergot with these medications used for depression might cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety.
    Some of these medications used for depression include phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and others.


Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination

  • Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, and others) interacts with ERGOT

    Ergot can affect a brain chemical called serotonin. Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, others) can also affect serotonin. Taking ergot along with dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, others) might cause too much serotonin in the brain and serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety. Do not take ergot if you are taking dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, and others).

  • Ergot Derivatives interacts with ERGOT

    Ergot contains the same chemicals as ergot derivatives in prescription medications. Taking ergot supplements with prescription ergot derivatives can increase the effects and side effects of ergot.
    Some of these ergot derivatives include bromocriptine (Parlodel), dihydroergotamine (Migranal, DHE-45), ergotamine (Cafergot), and pergolide (Permax).

  • Medications that decrease the breakdown of other medications in the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) inhibitors) interacts with ERGOT

    Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.
    Some medications might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down ergot. Taking ergot along with some medications that decrease the break-down of other medications in the liver can increase the effects and side effects of ergot. Before taking ergot, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.
    Some medications that might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down ergot include amiodarone (Cordarone), clarithromycin (Biaxin), diltiazem (Cardizem), erythromycin (E-mycin, Erythrocin), indinavir (Crixivan), ritonavir (Norvir), saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase), and many others.

  • Meperidine (Demerol) interacts with ERGOT

    Ergot increases a chemical in the brain called serotonin. Meperidine (Demerol) can also increase serotonin in the brain. Taking ergot along with meperidine (Demerol) might cause too much serotonin in the brain and serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety.

  • Pentazocine (Talwin) interacts with ERGOT

    Ergot increases a brain chemical called serotonin. Pentazocine (Talwin) also increases serotonin. Taking ergot along with pentazocine (Talwin) might increase serotonin too much. Too much serotonin can cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety. Do not take ergot if you are taking pentazocine (Talwin).

  • Stimulant drugs interacts with ERGOT

    Stimulant drugs speed up the nervous system. Speeding up the nervous system can make you feel jittery and speed up your heartbeat. Ergot might also speed up the nervous system. Taking ergot along with stimulant drugs might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking stimulant drugs along with ergot.
    Some stimulant drugs include diethylpropion (Tenuate), epinephrine, phentermine (Ionamin), pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), and many others.

  • Tramadol (Ultram) interacts with ERGOT

    Tramadol (Ultram) can affect a chemical in the brain called serotonin. Ergot can also affect serotonin. Taking ergot along with tramadol (Ultram) might cause too much serotonin in the brain and side effects including confusion, shivering, stiff muscles, and other side effects.


Dosing

The appropriate dose of ergot depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for ergot. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

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