Ergot is a fungal disease of cereal grasses, especially rye, caused by species of the ascomycete fungus Claviceps. As the fungus grows, it replaces individual grain kernels with dark, hard “ergots.”
Alkaloids found in ergots function by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. This causes noradrenaline and sclerotin to be inhibited, causing blood vessels to widen.
Ergot alkaloids are used to treat various ailments, the most prevalent of which are migraines. During the commencement of an attack, the vasodilator action helps to relieve tension. The medications also aid in the reduction of blood pressure.