Ergot Alkaloids and Related Substances

  • P. B. Bradley
  • I. Briggs


Ergot has been called a treasure-house of drugs; possibly no other source of biological products has so many active constituents with such a wide spectrum of pharmacological properties, which has been further expanded by the production of derivatives with qualitatively new actions. Ergot consists of the sclerotia or resting stage produced by fungi of the genus Claviceps, most commonly C. purpurea, which is principally parasitic on the rye, Secale cereale. Many other varieties of ergot are known; over 50 species of Claviceps have been described, infesting over 600 recorded host species of the family Gramineae (grasses and cereals) (Bové, 1970). Although possible allusions to ergot are found in early records (see Bové, 1970), the earliest undisputable reference to ergot itself was made in 1582 by Lonicer, who described its use in midwifery. However, it was not widely accepted by physicians until the nineteenth century. The history and pharmacognosy of ergot have been extensively reviewed by Barger (1931) and by Bové (1970).


Ergot Alkaloid Nucleus Tractus Solitarius Prolactin Secretion Area Postrema Lysergic Acid 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. B. Bradley
    • 1
  • I. Briggs
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical Research Council Neuropharmacology Unit The Medical SchoolUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamEngland

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