Skip to Content

Ergotamine Side Effects

For the Consumer

Applies to ergotamine: oral tablets, rectal suppositories, sublingual tablets

Side effects include:

Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, numbness and tingling of the fingers and toes, muscle pain in the extremities, weakness in the legs.

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to ergotamine: compounding powder, sublingual tablet


Gastrointestinal side effects have included nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.[Ref]


The valvular lesions induced by ergotamine are echocardiographically similar to those seen in rheumatic heart disease, but are more often found on the mitral and aortic valves. A new murmur heard during ergot therapy should prompt evaluation for ergot-induced valvular disease. Rapid discontinuation of ergot therapy may allow the murmur and valvular lesions to regress.[Ref]

Cardiovascular side effects have included hypertension, tachycardia, bradycardia, precordial distress, chest pain and valvular disease. Arterial spasm, sometimes with resulting distal necrosis, has been reported rarely. The extremities have been most frequently affected and amputation has occasionally been required. Rare vascular side effects have included tongue necrosis, bilateral papillitis, blindness, ischemic pancreatitis, ischemic hepatitis, bowel infarction, renal arteriospasm with acute renal failure, fatal stroke, venous thrombosis, and cerebral arteriopathy.[Ref]


Musculoskeletal aches, pains, and cramps, as well as general muscular weakness, have been reported.[Ref]

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects have included drowsiness, paresthesias, headache, peripheral neuropathy, vertigo, tremor, dystonia and reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Headaches may be a symptom of withdrawal, especially after long term use. The headaches during ergotamine withdrawal are often subjectively different in character from the headaches that prompted ergotamine therapy.[Ref]


Other side effects including retroperitoneal fibrosis and pleuropulmonary fibrosis have been reported rarely with chronic use of ergotamine and other ergot alkaloids.[Ref]


Local side effects associated with the use of ergotamine suppositories have included solitary rectal ulcers, anovaginal fistulae, and rectovaginal fistulae.[Ref]


1. Orton DA, Richardson RJ "Ergotamine absorption and toxicity." Postgrad Med J 58 (1982): 6-11

2. "Product Information. Bellergal-S (ergotamine)." Sandoz Pharmaceuticals Corporation, East Hanover, NJ.

3. Hokkanen E, Waltimo O, Kallanranta T "Toxic effects of ergotamine used for migraine." Headache 18 (1978): 95-8

4. Paraskevopoulos JA, Teasdale DE, Cuschieri RJ "Severe reversible arterial spasm with ergotamine." Br J Clin Pract 49 (1995): 214

5. Redfield MM, Nicholson WJ, Edwards WD, Tajik AJ "Valve disease associated with ergot alkaloid use: echocardiographic and pathologic correlations." Ann Intern Med 117 (1992): 50-2

6. Lepage-Savary D, Vallieres A "Ergotamine as a possible cause of retroperitoneal fibrosis." Clin Pharm 1 (1982): 179-80

7. Shpilberg O, Ehrenfeld M, Abramowich D, Samra Y, Bat L "Ergotamine-induced solitary rectal ulcer." Postgrad Med J 66 (1990): 483-5

8. Jost WH, Raulf F, Muller-Lobeck H "Anorectal ergotism. Induced by migraine therapy." Acta Neurol Scand 84 (1991): 73-4

Some side effects of ergotamine may not be reported. Always consult your doctor or healthcare specialist for medical advice. You may also report side effects to the FDA.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.