Ergot (Secale cornutum)

Published September 18, 1986.
List of German Commission E Monographs (Phytotherapy)


Name of Drug

Secale cornutum, ergot.

Composition of Drug

Ergot consists of the sclerotium of Claviceps purpurea (Fries) Tulasne [Fam. Clavicipitaceae], grown on rye, as well as preparations thereof.


Ergot and ergot preparations are used in gynecology and obstetrics, e.g., hemorrhages, climacteric hemorrhages, menor-rhagia and metrorrhagia, before and after abortions, for removal of the placenta. These preparations are also used for secondary bleeding and shortening of the afterbirth period, and for atonia of the uterus.


The alkaloids contained in the drug and its preparations exhibit an extremely differing action spectrum. The application of the alkaloids as, e.g., total extract is not reasonable. Partially synthetically modified ergot alkaloids show far less toxicity at the same or higher specific effectiveness.


Based on the risks, the therapeutic application of ergot and ergot preparations is not justified.