Up to the 19th century, prior to the introduction of grain standards for ergot, the sclerotia were ground up with rye grains and consumed because most of the flour was used for baking. Chronic consumption leads to symptoms that are summarized as "ergotism".
—Biology, Genetics, and Management of Ergot...
Ergotism is extremely rare today, primarily because the normal grain cleaning and milling processes remove most of the ergot so that only very low levels of alkaloids remain in the resultant flours. In addition, the alkaloids that are the causative agents of ergotism are relatively labile and are usually destroyed during baking and cooking.—Toxic effects of mycotoxins in humans
Clinical ergotism as seen today results almost exclusively from the excessive intake of ergotamine tartrate in the treatment of migraine headache.
Prophylactic intramuscular or intravenous injections of ergot alkaloids are effective in reducing blood loss and postpartum haemorrhage, but adverse effects include vomiting, elevation of blood pressure and pain after birth requiring analgesia, particularly with the intravenous route of administration.
—Use of ergot alkaloids in the third stage of labour
Ergot derivatives are known to induce the spasmodic contraction of coronary arteries. Administration of ergot derivatives can cause acute myocardial infarction (AMI), even in normal healthy people. In several reported cases, ergot derivatives triggered severe AMI during the postpartum period. Here, we report the case of a forty-year-old woman who was successfully impregnated by artificial fertilization and died after treatment with ergot derivatives.