The important actions of ergot are on the blood-vessels and the uterus.
Bees carry the spores of Scierotinia as they do the pollen of the bilberries, and flies convey the conidia of ergot from grain to grain.
In the ear of rye that is infected with ergot a species of fermentation takes place, and there exudes from it a sweet yellowish mucus, which after a time disappears.
It has indeed been asserted that the slow pulse characteristic of the puerperal period is really due to the common administration of ergot at that time.
Boletus edulis, in the Oriental Trehala and in ergot of rye; melibiose, C12H22011, formed, with fructose, on hydrolysing the trisaccharose melitose (or raffinose), C18H32016.5H20, which occurs in Australian manna and in the molasses of sugar manufacture; touranose, C12H22011, formed with d-glucose and galactose on hydrolysing another trisaccharose, melizitose, C,8H32016 2H20, which occurs in Pinus larix and in Persian manna; and agavose, C12H22011, found in the stalks of Agave americana.
The latter does not keep well, and the best way of using ergot is to dissolve tablets obtained from a reputable maker, and containing some of the active principles, in pure water, the solution being injected subcutaneously.
The extremely complex composition of this drug has been studied in great detail, and with such important results that instead of giving ergot itself by the mouth in doses of 20 to 60 grains, it is now possible to obtain much more rapid and certain results by giving one three-hundredth of a grain of one of its constituents hypodermically.
The indications for the use of ergot in obstetrics are highly complex and demand detailed treatment.