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Ergotism

Ergotism is a condition with symptoms of convulsion and gangrene due to ergot poisoning. It usually occurs because of the toxic alkaloids produced by the Claviceps Purpurea fungus which affects rye, barley, wheat and other cereals. The convulsion occurring owing to Ergotism will include muscle spasms, nausea, vomiting, delusions, hallucinations, crawling sensations on the skin or intense burning sensation on the skin, diarrhea, paresthesia (tingling or pricking sensation on the skin) and headaches. Other symptoms of Ergotism include gangrene due to vasoconstriction of the extremities resulting in local stagnant anoxia - occurring in toes and fingers. During the mediaeval times, ergot poisoning had taken a great toll and monks belonging to the Roman Catholic order of the St.Anthony provided effective treatment - earning the disease a sobriquet 'St.Anthony's Fire' or 'Holy Fire'.

Ergot alkaloids are derivatives of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), and ergotism sometimes results in hallucinations of bright colors, changes in space, Formication (insects crawling under the skin) and images of marauding animals.


Recently Ergotism, Ergotoxicosis ensues after high doses of ergot alkaloids such as Ergotamine tartrate (Cafatine) and Dihydroergotamine. If it is a mild manifestation, symptoms fade away after stopping the offending drug. But severe cases can be fatal.

Tags: #Ergotism
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: August 13, 2020