We provide compounded ergotamine in capsules and suppositories.
Ergotamine is an effective treatment for migraines and other vascular type headaches, such as cluster headaches. In migraines and cluster headaches the blood vessels can be dilated and this contributes to the migraine. Blood is allowed to rush through a dilated artery, making the artery pulse or throb.
Ergotamine works by causing the muscles surrounding blood vessels to tighten, restricting the flow of blood.
Naturally derived ergotamine comes from the ergot fungus. Eating large quantities of the fungus causes ergotism (also known as Saint Anthony’s Fire), a complex set of symptoms characterised by intense burning in the limbs. When given in measured doses ergotamine’s ability to reduce blood flow and therefore affect blood flow patterns can assist with migraine treatment.
Ergotamine has a long history – in fact, man started using this fungus back in the 16th Century. In 1906, research helped us understand the medical application of the ergot fungus and its use as a treatment for migraines began in 1925. Proprietary pharmaceutical products were developed and ergotamine was marketed world-wide as the brand names Ergomar, Migranil and, when combined with caffeine, as Cafergot. These were the mainstay of migraine treatment for over 60 years.
But the migraine market is large and lucrative (with sales in the billions of dollars) so it was only a matter of time before other migraine treatments were developed – the introduction of Imigran in 1991 was the first of the newer treatments, and others have followed. The market for ergotamine became smaller with the introduction of the newer products and pharmaceutical manufacturers discontinued supply in the early 2000s, leaving many migraine sufferers who had found it to be safe and effective without access.
Ergotamine remains very effective and safe for many people for the treatment of migraine and cluster headaches, and in Australia is only available from compounding pharmacies.