Ergomar® (ergotamine)

Ergomar is a prescription drug used to treat migraine. It works by constricting, or tightening, blood vessels in the brain, which can reduce pain. It is not a pain reliever on its own, and it is often not the first line of defense for migraine, because of its persistent side effects. There are also other migraine medications that are generally more effective in their mode of action against migraine.

This medicine is part of a class of substances called ergot alkaloids, which are produced by a common fungus that lives on grains and grass seeds.1 Ergotamines have been used medicinally since the 1920s, and even before, when they were used to stem bleeding after childbirth. Alkaloids are a group of nitrogen-containing compounds that are active in the human body and are generally produced by plants.2

Ergomar comes in tablets that dissolve under the tongue. Ergotamine also comes in other forms for suppository and nasal inhaler, under different brand names. Some formulations include combinations of ergotamine plus caffeine.

  • Migranal®
  • Cafergot®, Migergot®
  • DHE-45
  • Cafatine
  • Cafetrate
  • Ercaf
  • Ergo-Caff
  • Ergomar®
  • Wigraine®

What are the ingredients in Ergomar?

The active ingredient in Ergomar is ergotamine tartrate.

How does Ergomar work?

Ergomar is an alpha adrenergic blocking agent. This means that it blocks certain receptors in the nervous system and affects the action of particular nerves. In this case, Ergomar stimulates contraction of the smooth muscle of blood vessels in the brain and in the extremities, like the hands and feet.3

Although the exact causes of migraine are not well understood, some of the pain is thought to originate from vasodilation, or a widening of blood vessels in the brain, which allows an increase in blood flow. Constricting these vessels can reduce the flow of blood and is thought to reduce the resultant pain.4

What are possible side effects of Ergomar?

There have been reports of serious and sometimes life-threatening side effects that can occur when Ergomar is taken with certain medications, including protease inhibitors and macrolide antibiotics (including troleandomycin, clarithromycin, and erythromycin). These have included reports of extreme constriction of the vessels in the brain or extremities, which can block blood flow, leading to stroke or gangrene.

Other side effects include:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Localized swelling and itching, due to an allergic reaction to the medication

Some reports have shown the development of fibrous tissues in the gut, lungs, and in certain heart vessels when ergotamine is taken regularly with caffeine, which is one mode that doctors use to administer this drug.

This is not an exhaustive list of all potential side effects of Ergomar. For more information, consult your doctor or healthcare provider. If you notice any new or worsening side effects, contact your doctor or healthcare provider immediately.5

Things to know about Ergomar

Ergomar is not a pain killer, and it works best when taken immediately after the onset of migraine symptoms. It does not help for other kinds of headache disorders, and it is not meant to manage chronic attacks. Erogomar has not been studied in children, and it is not recommended for elderly patients.

Women who are pregnant should not take Ergomar. It is especially dangerous to the developing fetus during the third trimester. This medicine is also excreted into breastmilk and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weak pulse, and unstable blood pressure in nursing infants. You should talk to your doctor about taking this medicine if you are breastfeeding.

Ergomar should not be used in with other medications that constrict blood vessels. Its effects can also be increased due to the nicotine from smoking.

This drug can lead to dependency and it can result in a rebound effect of increased migraine if you take more than the recommended dose or continue treatment for longer than is prescribed.

It is important to report to your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms5:

  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes
  • Muscle pain in the arms and legs
  • Weakness in the legs
  • Pain in the chest or temporary speeding or slowing of the heart rate
  • Swelling or itching

Dosing information

For best results, take Ergomar at the first sign of a migraine. Take one 2 mg tablet by placing it under your tongue and letting it dissolve. You can take additional tablets at half-hour intervals, if the pain has not improved.

It is important not to take more than 3 tablets per migraine episode or in any 24-hour period. No more than 5 tablets should be taken per week. This is not meant to be a daily medication or to relieve chronic migraine.

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Ergomar.5

Written by: Sara Finkelstein | Last reviewed: June 2018.
View References