The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!


Scientific Names


  • Claviceps purpurea L.
  • Fungus family

Common Names

  • Cockspur rye
  • Hornseed
  • Mother of rye
  • Smut rye
  • Spurred rye

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Parts Usually Used

Dried sclerotia
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Description of Plant(s) and

Ergot is a fungus which replaces the seeds of the rye plant (Secale cornatum). It takes the form of black or purplish-black, crooked grains or “spurs”, called sclerotia, about 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches long and 1/10 to 2/10 inch thick. It has a nauseous odor and a disagreeable taste.

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Where Found

Found on fungus infected rye plants.
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Medicinal Properties

Abortifacient, emmenagogue, hemostatic, oxytocic, vasoconstrictor
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Legends, Myths and Stories

As rye does not grow in China, true ergot is not found there.
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Medicinal preparations, such as ergotamine, are made from ergot; are useful in contracting the uterine muscles, particularly after delivery to prevent hemorrhage, and have also been used for menstrual difficulties. One ergot derivative, ergotamine tartrate, helps to relieve migraine headaches and cluster headaches by constricting the swollen blood vessels causing the pain. Ergot is also a source of LSD.
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Do not use without proper medical supervision.
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Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! Webster’s New World Medical Dictionary, New World Dictionaries, 850 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44114.

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