Other Names

Ergoline, ergoline alkaloids, ergot alkaloids,

ergotalkaloide, mutterkornalkaloide

Ergot alkaloids are derivatives of lysergic acid or

clavine derivatives and belong to the group of

indole alkaloids. They are found in many climbing

plants (Convolvulaceae) and fungi (Claviceps purpurea,

Claviceps paspali, Claviceps spp.). The ergot

alkaloids can be divided into two groups that

exhibit stark pharmacological differences. One

group is composed of alkaloids that are highly

toxic and cause gangrenous ergotism, while the

other group consists of psychoactive alkaloids with

hallucinogenic effects. Both types may be present

in the same plant (Hofmann 1964).

The following ergot alkaloids have been found

in the Convolvulaceae: agroclavine, ergine, ergonovine,

isoergine (= isolysergic acid amide),

chanoclavine I and II, racemic chanoclavine II,

elymoclavine, festuclavine, lysergene, lysergol, isolysergol,

molliclavine, penniclavine, cycloclavine,

stetoclavine, isostetoclavine, ergometrinine, lysergic

acid-a-hydroxyethylamide (= lysergic acid methylcarbinolamide),

isolysergic acid-a-hydroxyethylamide

(= isolysergic acid methylcarbinolamide),

ergosine, and ergosinine (cf. Argyreia nervosa,

Convolvulus tricolor, Ipomoea violacea, Ipomoea

spp., Turbina corymbosa).

One hallucinogenic ergot alkaloid is ergonovine

(ergometrine, D-Iysergic acid-L-2-propanolamide,

ergobasin, ergotocine, ergostetrine, ergotrate, syntometrine,

N- [a -(hydroxymethyl)ethyl] -D-Iysergic

amide). Ergonovine maleate is psychoactive at

dosages between 3 and 10 mg (Bigwood et al.

1979). The semi-synthetic methylergonovine has

also been reported to induce psychoactive effects

(Ott and Neely 1980).

Ergine (= lysergic acid amide, LSA, lysergic

amide, 9,10-didehydro-6-methylergoline-8~-carboxamide)

induces psychoactive effects reminiscent

of those produced by LSD (lysergic acid

diethylamide). LSD is a slight chemical variant of

lysergic acid amide that can be produced from

ergot (Claviceps purpurea). LSD is a psychopharmaca,

a "remedy for the soul" (Albert Hofmann)

whose entheogenic effects are very well known

(Hofmann 1979*).

The ergot alkaloids dihydroergotaminemesilate,

dihydroergotamintartrate, ergometrine hydrogenmaleate,

and ergotamine tartrate have a variety of

uses in medicine, including as treatments for labor

contractions and migraines.
Commercial Forms and Regulations

Ergonovine requires a prescription. In the United

States, ergine is a controlled substance (Ott 1993,

437*). LSD is illegal throughout the world.


See also the entries for Claviceps paspali, Claviceps

purpurea, and indole alkaloids.

Bigwood, Jeremy, Jonathan Ott, Catherine

Thompson, and Patricia Neely. 1979.

Entheogenic effects of ergonovine. Journal of

Psychedelic Drugs 11 (1-2): 147-49.

Hofmann, Albert. 1964. Die Mutterkorn-Alkaloide.

Stuttgart: Enke.

Ott, Jonathan, and Patricia Neely. 1980. Entheogenic

(hallucinogenic) effects of methylergonovine.

Journal ofPsychedelic Drugs 12 (2): 165-66.

Rivier, 1. 1984. Ethnopharmacology of LSD and

related compounds. In 50 years ofLSD: Current

status and perspectives ofhallucinogens, ed. A.

Pletscher and D. Ladewig, 43-55. NewYork and

London: Parthenon Publishing.

Yui, T., and Y. Takeo. 1958. Neuropharmacological

studies on a new series of ergot alkaloids.

Japanese Journal ofPharmacology 7: 157.

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