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What the hell does the reference to the gallows mean here: Similar eruptions of ergotism also occurred in Essex and Fairfield counties in Connecticut that damp and cool season, though in Connecticut no one went to the gallows. Notable epidemics of ergotism, at first seen as a punishment from God, occurred up into the 19th century. Fewer outbreaks have occurred since then, because in developed countries rye is carefully monitored. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:19, 2 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


This page is lacking more information on witchcraft in magic. Any additions would be appretiated.11-29-07 —Preceding unsigned comment added by Seantm21182 (talkcontribs) 01:06, 30 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Is it possible to aquire this disease by the use of ergot's derivatives, namely LSD-25 or LSA?


No. The LSA is simply an alkaloid of the bacteria, whereas the other symptoms (either convulsive or gangrenous) are caused by other chemicals or processes within the bacterium.

I changed "nobody went to the stake" to "nobody went to the gallows", as witchcraft in New England was not punished by burning (as in continental Europe) but by hanging (as in England).

I wonder if somebody tries to make beer (fermented) or whisky/rye/vodka (distilled) with infected grains... will the toxins be present in the alcohol in noticeable amounts, leading to ergotism? Hugo Dufort 06:05, 30 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes, they will in beer. (Not sure about in distilled alcohol). (talk) 04:32, 1 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What is the cause of vasoconstriction in ergotism? Is it a build up of cholesterol, catecholamines, or some other form of arterial disruption?

It is an alkaloid of the ergoline family. Hugo Dufort 12:48, 20 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

pharmacologic ergotism[edit]

Ergotism can be brought on by ergotamine tartrate or dihydroergotamine, both of which are used in the treatement of headaches and migraines... This should probably be added to the main article. -- (talk) 12:42, 31 August 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Pied Piper[edit]

I have read that the Pied Piper myth has it's roots in a Medieval Ergot poisoning 'event'. I have no supporting material that would lead me to include it here but if you do can you add it to the article? Pafcwoody (talk) 05:08, 10 November 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

OK, the Pied Piper tale is not a myth but a legend or folk story or etc. And there's no reason to link it to ergot poisoning. We would need reliable sources to mention it. DreamGuy (talk) 14:48, 21 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This was the basis of an SF story by Robert Holdstock, To Lay the Piper, which first appeared in a university fanzine in 1973. Time travellers go back to investigate the Pied Piper story and find the townsfolk, driven mad by the disease, killed their own children and invented the piper story as a cover-up. I suspect Holdstock invented the idea.2A00:23C6:1683:4D01:6D7F:9D16:211A:C360 (talk) 09:19, 5 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A few points here;[edit]

First, I think that most of the material from the LSD page referring to ergot should be moved over here. It does a far better job than this. There are a few things here that could be kept, but it could be better organized.

Second, WHERE ARE THE CITES!!!? I see declarations in every sentence with no support. There are a few things I'd like to look up, but there is no reference material external to the article that supports many of these statements.

Lastly - medical facts; Cafergot does not cause ergotism. Dihyroergotamine does not cause ergotism. I used to use cafergot on a regular basis, and now I use DHE on a regular basis. Both are ergot based vasoconstrictors used for migraine control. A vasoconstrictor contracts the smooth muscle tissue surrounding blood vessels. The effect only lasts as long as the drug takes to metabolize, with a controlled dose being in the 1 to 2 milligram range. It is very effective, which is why ergot poisoning victims lost limbs to gangrene - those extremities were shut off, and received no fresh blood supply which had less of the drug which would have relaxed the blood vessels.

Chronic use of modern ergot based drugs does not cause ergotism as far as I am aware - as I said, the effects only last as long as it takes to metabolize the drug. Dmummert (talk) 18:31, 17 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Lastly - medical facts; Cafergot cause ergotism: there are facts. (eg with macrolid) I will try to cite. --Pinof (talk) 12:25, 18 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

See: Ruano-Calderon LA, Zermeno-Pohls F 2005 Ergotismo. Presentación de un caso y revisión de la bibliografía

Abstract in English: Introduction. Ergotism is characterised by an intensive generalised vasoconstriction of small and large blood vessels. The symptoms derive from the regional ischemia caused by the vasospasm produced by ergotamine. Nowadays, ergotism is almost exclusively due to the excessive ingestion of ergotamine tartrate used in the treatment of migraine. The main treatment consists in withdrawing the medication. Case report. Our study involves a 53-year-old male with a history of migraine since his youth, who was treated with ergotaminic preparations up until the day before admission to hospital. He was admitted because of a 7-day history of symptoms including bilateral and symmetrical anaesthesia of the fingers and a general feeling of weakness, associated with intense pain and cyanosis of the right thenar eminence. On admission, it was not possible to measure his AT in the upper limbs and his peripheral pulses dropped in a generalised manner. Aetiologies involving vasculitis were ruled out. An angiography study showed segmented stenosis of arteries in the upper and lower limbs. Ergotaminic agents were withdrawn and nifedipine was indicated. The symptoms disappeared, the physical examination was normal and results of a control angiography study were also normal. Conclusions. Ergotamine intoxication can be detected by a thorough interview and physical examination; it should be suspected when faced with symptoms that are compatible with vasospasms and a history of ingestion of the drug, in the absence of any prothrombotic, liver kidney or vasculitic pathology. This condition is treated by withdrawing the drug and administration of vasodilators if the symptoms are intense. In this paper we review the history, pathophysiology, initial symptoms and signs, diagnosis and treatment of ergotamine poisoning. --Pinof (talk) 17:02, 18 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Where is the information on treatment? I'm pretty sure that it is controlled doses of Sodium Nitroprusside. -xXDFliyerzXx — Preceding unsigned comment added by XXDFliyerzXx (talkcontribs) 03:12, 8 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Mercury poisoning and Pont-Saint-Esprit[edit]

The mass poisoning at Pont-Saint-Esprit in 1951 was definitely not mercury poisoning. The possibility of mercury poisoning was thoroughly investigated at the time and ruled out, and all signs conclusively pointed to ergot poisoning:

  • There was no kidney damage as is typical in mercury poisoning
  • There were no sore gums, loosening of teeth, ashen color to the mouth, or strong metallic taste as is typical in mercury poisoning
  • There were no renal lesions as is typical in mercury poisoning
  • No effective quantity of mineral poison was detected in bread and flour samples
  • Ergot and unknown alkaloids were discovered and confirmed in bread samples
  • Observed symptoms were typical of extreme cases of ergot poisoning: convulsions, diarrhea, psychotic delusions and hallucinations, and gangrene.

See The Day of St. Anthony's Fire for more information. Kaldari (talk) 23:04, 10 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Infection outcome?[edit]

As stated in a comment above, except for a brief mention of vasodilators. there's no mention in the article of treatment. In addition, there's no mention of the outcome of an ergot infection. Did people universally recover without sequelae? Did people survive, but with sequelae? Did people frequently flat out die? There seems to be no evidence that the Salem accusers died from their supposed ergot illness or even that they were left with sequelae. If the girls were truly infected, how could they turn their symptoms on and off on cue during the trials like they did? This theory is weak; I'm skeptical. Thank you for your time and clarification, Wordreader (talk) 05:46, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

With some poking around, I've found these scholarly articles that refute ergot poisoning as it relates to the Salem witch panic:
  • Ergotism and the Salem Village witch trials
  • Witchcraft or Mycotoxin? The Salem Witch Trials
  • Ergotism and the Salem Witch Panic: A Critical Analysis and an Alternative Conceptualization
Yours, Wordreader (talk) 06:58, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Fuller's Book, "The Day of St. Anthony's Fire" considered WP:RS?[edit]

So I do realize that there can be a variation of quality in someone's journalistic output through their lifetime, but this book was written by John G. Fuller. The book appears to be out of print, but I do wonder about the reliability of this source. I'm hoping someone else can chime in, though I may wind up asking over at WP:RSN anyway. -- [UseTheCommandLine ~/talk] #_ 03:58, 25 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I went ahead and posted at RSN already. -- [UseTheCommandLine ~/talk] #_ 04:20, 25 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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Ergotism and Ergot[edit]

The two articles, Ergotism and Ergot, appear unhelpfully linked: The Ergot article's section on the effects of ergot on humans, notes the Ergotism article as being the "main article" for this, however, the Ergotism article seems to add little more information to that contained in Ergot section, other that on ergotism's connections to witchcraft. Consequently, and as there is already an inline link to it in Ergot, I have deleted the sub-heading link there, and have added an inline link into the Ergotism article linking to the Ergot article's section on the effects of ergot on humans. The Ergotism article needs to be expanded to include at least all the information in Ergot article on the subject to be referred to from there as the main article. The ergotism article lede states that ergotism refers only to "the effect of long-term ergot poisoning"LookingGlass (talk) 13:22, 22 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Origin of the name St. Anthony's Fire[edit]

I was under the impression that the name came from St. Anthony himself, a saint who became a hermit in the Egyptian desert and there suffering from horrible "demons", hallucinations, similar to the ones one would experience suffering from ergotism. And not named after the order which was specifically founded to combat said disease, as is implied under History. (talk) 22:46, 26 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]