Je prenais le soleil tous les matins en plissant des yeux comme un bienheureux: Martin’s eye drops containing ergot d’Yvon to defend pupil from risky sun ray and avoid Crow’s feet

Lorenzo Martini1,2

1University of Siena, Department of Pharmaceutical Biotechnologies, Via A. Moro 2, 53100 Siena, Italy, 2C.R.I.S.M.A. Inter University Centre for Researched Advanced Medical Systems, Via A. Moro 2, 53100 Siena, Italy

Corresponding author: Prof. Lorenzo Martini, M.Sc, E-mail:

How to cite this article: Martini L. Je prenais le soleil tous les matins en plissant des yeux comme un bienheureux: Martin’s eye drops containing ergot d’Yvon to defend pupil from risky sun ray and avoid Crow’s feet. Our Dermatol Online. 2024;15(e):e17.
Submission: 15.02.2023; Acceptance: 30.10.2023
DOI: 10.7241/ourd.2024e.17

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© Our Dermatology Online 2024. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by Our Dermatology Online.


Ergot or ergot fungi refers to a group of fungi of the genus Claviceps [1].

The most prominent member of this group is Claviceps purpurea (“rye ergot fungus”). This fungus grows on rye and related plants, and produces alkaloids that can cause ergotism in humans and other mammals who consume grains contaminated with its fruiting structure (called ergot sclerotium) [2,3]

Sclerotium is considered the most potent vasoconstrictor by all phytognosts throughout the world and the intoxication evoked by the ingestion of this fungus yields, inter alia, to miosis and relief to the “heffmutter” idest the uprising of the wombs in parturients, together with laurel and Salomon’s seal (Polygonatum spp).

In 1722, the Russian Tsar Peter the Great during his campaign against the Ottoman Empire,when his army was in the neighbourhood of Northern Georgia, was struck by ergotism and was forced to retreat in order to find edible grains. As soon as his soldiers ate the poisoned dallis grasses (Paspalum) bread, they became dizzy, with such strong nerve contractions that those who did not die on the first day found their hands and feet falling off, akin to frostbite [4].

The epidemic was known as Saint Anthony’s fire, [5] or ignis sacer [6].

Saint Anthony was recalled as he was an Egyptian ascetic and was known for long fasting in which he confronted terrible visions and temptations sent from the Devil and the ancient icons represented him with spirited and glossy eyes [7].

The ascetic was thus recovered in a caravanserai in order to cure his disease, and some medicians founded the Order of St. Anthony in honor of him.

Anthony was a popular subject for art in the Middle Ages, and his symbol is a large blue “T” sewn onto the shoulder of the order’s monks, symbolizing the crutch used by the ill and injured.

The Order of St. Anthony, whose members were known as Antonites, grew quickly, and hospitals spread through France, Germany, Italy (Altopascio, near Lucca) and Scandinavia and gained wealth and power as grateful patrons bestowed money and charitable goods on the hospitals [6].

By the end of the Middle Ages, there were 396 settlements and 372 hospitals owned by the order, and pilgrimages to such hospitals became popular, as well as the donation of limbs lost to ergotism, which were displayed near shrines to the Saint [6]. These hagiotherapeutic centers were the first specialized European medical welfare systems, and the friars of the order were knowledgeable about treatment of ergotism and the horrifying effects of the poison.

The treatment was based chiefly on the administration of wine containing vasodilating herbs as ergot.

The A of this modest contribution re-discovered a recipe by Dr Otto Martin (1897), who prescribed to induce eye miosis for diagnostic purposes:

Yvon’s ergotin (dissolved in Prunus laurocerasus water, exceptional vasocontrictor) and 0.1 grain avoirdupois (corresponding to 0.0064 g) of sparteine sulfate, similarly an excellent vasoconstrictor.

Owing to the overwhelming global warming and the assiduous recurrence of African anticyclones. (e.g. at Taormina, in Sicily, 259 “mornings” out of 365 days pro year are shining and fully sunny) and it is undoubted that not everybody can wear sun glasses (especially for working outdoor), so a natural induced miosis is welcome to protect the eye pupil from damages provoked by sun rays.

Instead of squeezing eyes to evoke a physiological miosis in order defend them from the injury of the sun, it should be better to evoke an artificial (even if natural and abosultely not pharmacological) reversible miosis to let an individual to face the brutality of the actinic rays and avoid the progressive onset of wrinkles close the eyes themselves.

Physiologically speaking, pupils in both eyes respond independently to bright or dim light, so it’s possible for pupils to expand or contract and the physiological process is fully reversible with no undesirable effect.

Pupils also make small adjustments in size to help man focus better on a close or distant object.

The experiment has been proposed even to a patient who suffered from anisocoria provoked by a untreated syphilis contracted in Malaysia.

Some drop of the Martini’s solution in the largest pupil for 10 days yielded to a diameter similarity of the two pupils after the treatment.


The examination of the patient was conducted according to the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki.


1. Schardl CL, Panaccione DG, Tudzynski P. Ergot alkaloids–biology and molecular biology. Alkaloids Chem Biol. 2006;63:45-86.

2. “ergot”:Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine, online medical dictionary

3. Bennett JW, Bentley R. Pride and Prejudice:The Story of Ergot. Perspect Biol Med. 1999

4. Heritage J, Evans G, Killington RA. 5.6.8 What is the role of fungal toxins in food poisoning?. Microbiology in Action. 1999. Cambridge University Press. 115.

5. Matossian MK. Poisons of the Past:Molds, Epidemics, and History. New Haven:Yale, 1989 (reedited in 1991) pagg 61-63

6. De Costa C. St Anthony’s fire and living ligatures:a short history of ergometrine. Lancet. 2002;359:1768-70.

7. Wellcome S, Solomon H. From Ergot to Ernutin. Ottawa?1908) Canadian Medical Association. pp. 1–60.


Source of Support: This article has no funding source.

Conflict of Interest: The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

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