Secale Cornutum. (Ergot.)
Preparation.—Prepare a tincture from recent Ergot ℥viij. to Alcohol 50° Oj. Dose from the fraction of a drop to ʒj. (Ergot loses its properties with age, and it is essential, if we wish its specific action, that the tincture be prepared from the grains of the present season.)
The Ergot may be taken as the type of a specific medicine. Its action on the uterus, when fresh and good is so certain and decided, that no one can fail to see that at least one remedy acts directly. It is true, that there have been many failures in obtaining this action, but this can be attributed to worthless medicine; a large amount of that furnished physicians from drug-houses being inert from age. Ergot may be employed in two ways, to facilitate labor. In quite small doses, say—Rx Tincture of Ergot, ʒj.; Water, ℥ij.; a teaspoonful every half hour or hour, it exerts a stimulant influence, strengthening uterine contractions, and aiding dilatation of the os. It is especially useful in those cases in which there is a feeble circulation, with puffiness of face, and oedema of the feet—among the worst cases we are called to treat. Associated with small doses of Lobelia, it is an admirable remedy in rigidity, the os being thick and doughy. Its common use in large doses, in the second stage of labor, is so well known that it need not be described.
We employ Ergot in small doses, in the latter mouths of gestation, when there are false pains, with weight and pressure in the pelvis, fullness of labia with uneasiness, oedema, and especially if there is dullness and hebetude, with tendency to coma. In these cases no remedy will give greater satisfaction.
Ergot is a spinal stimulant, and influences the vegetative system of nerves. In some respects its action is similar to Belladonna, especially upon the circulation. Not unfrequently, we find it necessary to alternate them in order to maintain this influence.
In any case, marked by an enfeebled capillary circulation, with tendency to congestion, especially of the nervous centers, Ergot may be prescribed with advantage.
This stimulant influence upon the spinal-cord and sympathetic is manifested in contraction of non-striated muscular fiber. Hence Ergot becomes an important remedy in hemorrhage when dependent upon atony.