Action ► Uterine stimulant. Oxy-tocic, abortifacient, parturient, vasoconstrictor, haemostatic. Used in obstetrics (difficult childbirth, for exciting uterine contractions in the final stages of parturition). Also used after abortion for removal of the placenta. It is no more employed in internal haemorrhages, as it has been found to raise blood pressure in pulmonary and cerebral haemorrhage. Included among unapproved herbs by German Commission E.
The fungus gave indole alkaloids. The ergometrine or ergonovine group includes ergometrine and ergometri-nine. The ergotamine group includes ergotamine and ergotaminine. The er-gotoxine group includes ergocristine, ergocristinine, ergocryptine, ergo-cryptinine, ergocornine and ergo-corninine. The fungus also contains histamine, tyramine and other amines, sterols and acetylcholine.
The alkaloids of ergot are being used independently (not as a herbal medicine). Ergotamine is used to relieve migrainous headaches as it is a vasoconstrictor and has antisero-tonin activity. Ergometrine is used after childbirth in the third stage of labour and for post-partum haemorrhage, as it is a powerful uterine stimulant, particularly of the puerperal uterus. (Both the constituents are used under medical supervision). Er-gocornine significantly inhibited the development of induced mammary tumours in rats. The derivatives of ergot alkaloids are known to have suppressing effect on human breast cancer in initial stages. This activity is linked to prolactin inhibitory action.
The extract is toxic at 1.0-3.9 g, ergot alkaloids at 1 g in adults, 12 mg in infants. (Francis Brinker).
Dosage ► Whole plant—10-30 ml infusion. (CCRAS.)
A related species, C. napaulensis DC. is used in leprosy. C. recta (Upright Virgin's Bower) is used in homoeopathic medicine for cancerous and foul ulcers; orally for rheumatic pains, varicose veins, gout and as a diuretic.
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