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Word of the Day - for Toastmasters everywhere
Wednesday 21st April 2021
Archive | Previous word | Today's word |

ergot (noun) UR-got

A fungoid cereal disease; fungal bodies obtained from it used in medicine.

Methods used to procure abortions included traditional herbal remedies, savin, ergot of rye, penny royal, slippery elm, squills and hierpicra; compounds of aloes and iron; and compounds of iron and purgative extracts.

Jeffrey Weeks, Sex, Politics and Society. Amazon

Ergot is a very common disease of the cereals. The fungus producing it was discovered in 1853, but for centuries previous its injurious effects upon the human body were recognized, and it was observed that ergot of rye was the most poisonous. Taken in large doses, ergot will produce nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, and weakness of the heart.

F.R. Campbell, Cereal Foods in their Relation to Health and Disease, in Scientific American Supplement, No. 392, July 7, 1883. Amazon

Sufferers experienced hallucinations and some scholars have matched 17th-century witch hunts with thecold, wet summers that produce ergot infection in ripening rye.

Tim Radford, The Guardian, 8 July 2004. Guardian

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a manufactured drug, from the parasitic fungus ergot, first made in the course of an attempt to prepare new therapeutic drugs.

Unattributed, The Observer, 21 April 2002. The Observer

''I have no real perception that we are any better off today treating migraine than we were 40 years ago when drugs containing ergot came onto the market,'' he said.

Richard Lyons, quoting Dr Arnold Friedman, The New York Times, 27 December 1983. New York Times

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