A parasitic fungus, Ustilago segetum Bull (Ustilago Maydis), developed on the fruit of Zea Mays, Linné, or Indian Corn (Nat. Ord. Fungi-Ustilagineae). Dose, 1 to 20 grains.
Common Names: Corn Smut, Corn Ergot, Corn Brand.
Principal Constituents.—An alkaloid ustilagine, trimethylamine, and sclerotic (maizenic) acid (probably not identical with that of ergot).
Preparations.—Specific Medicine Ustilago. Dose, 1 to 60 drops.
Specific Indications.—Feeble spinal and sympathetic innervation; feeble capillary and venous circulation; impaired circulation of cerebrum, with dizziness and unsteadiness; uterine derangements with excessive flow of blood or other discharges; lax genital tissues, with uterine pain; pain in top of head; uterine inertia; post partum and passive hemorrhages.
Action.—This fungus unquestionably possesses power, acting as a spinal excitant and producing convulsions and destroying life either by tetanus or exhaustion. It dilates the pupils. Upon animals it acts as an abortifacient and produces a shedding of hair, hoofs and horns. Its action has been compared to that of ergot and nux vomica combined.
Therapy.—Ellingwood is authority for the statement that ustilago is preferable to ergot as a parturient because it produces intermittent (clonic) instead of tonic contractions; and decreases after-pains, conduces to better uterine involution, and controls hemorrhage. Neither, however, is scarcely used by practitioners of the present day for parturient purposes. Scudder advised it to relieve false pains during the latter months of pregnancy, and other unpleasant sensations in the pelvic regions. It is also claimed that it arrests a too prolonged lochial flow by giving tone to the uterine wall. Observing the specific indications noted above, it may sometimes give relief to the disorders arising from masturbation and nocturnal pollutions, much as ergot and belladonna do, and in the ovarian and menstrual derangements, (chiefly of excessive discharges) in women with lax pendulous abdomen, weak and flabby enlarged uterus, and full toneless perineal and vaginal tissues. It is little used, but undoubtedly could be restudied with advantage.