St. Anthony's fire
The intensely painful burning sensation in the limbs and extremities caused by ergot, the consequence of a fungus (Claviceps purpurea) that contaminates rye and wheat. The fungus produces substances (alkaloids) termed ergotamines that constrict blood vessels and cause the muscle of the uterus to contract. The ergotamines have been much used (and been very useful) for the treatment of migraine. They have also been used (and misused) as abortifacients (agents of abortion). In excess, ergotamines are highly toxic and cause symptoms such as hallucinations, severe gastrointestinal upset, and a type of dry gangrene. Chronic ergot poisoning (ergotism) was rife during the Middle Ages due to the consumption of contaminated rye. St Anthony is one of a number of saints whose names have entered the annals of medicine. Others include St. Guy, St. John and St. Vitus. St. Anthony's fire referred not only to ergot poisoning but also to erysipelas, a type of spreading hot, bright red strep skin infection. For more about this fascinating disease, see our article on St. Anthony's Fire — Ergotism.

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1. former name for ergotism (in humans). 2. former name for erysipelas.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Anthony's Fire — An tho*ny s Fire See Saint Anthony s Fire, under {Saint}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • St Anthony's fire — Fire Fire (f[imac]r), n. [OE. fir, fyr, fur AS. f[=y]r; akin to D. vuur, OS. & OHG. fiur, G. feuer, Icel. f[=y]ri, f[=u]rr, Gr. py^r, and perh. to L. purus pure, E. pure Cf. {Empyrean}, {Pyre}.] 1. The evolution of light and heat in the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • St Anthony's fire — n. erysipelas or ergotism. * * * St Anthony s fire (popularly) Erysipelas • • • Main Entry: ↑Anthony St Anthony s fire see under ↑Anthony • • • Main Entry: ↑fire St Anthony s fire noun …   Useful english dictionary

  • Saint Anthony's fire — (also known historically as Ignis Sacer and Holy Fire ) may refer to one of the following infectious diseases:*Ergotism (this meaning particularly common in France and Germany) *Erysipelas (this meaning particularly common in England and the… …   Wikipedia

  • Saint Anthony's fire — Saint Saint (s[=a]nt), n. [F., fr. L. sanctus sacred, properly p. p. of sancire to render sacred by a religious act, to appoint as sacred; akin to sacer sacred. Cf. {Sacred}, {Sanctity}, {Sanctum}, {Sanctus}.] 1. A person sanctified; a holy or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Saint Anthony's fire — Saint An·tho·ny s fire .sānt .an(t) thə nēz , chiefly Brit .an tə n any of several inflammatory or gangrenous conditions (as erysipelas or ergotism) of the skin Anthony Saint (ca 250 350) Egyptian monk. St. Anthony is regarded as the founder of… …   Medical dictionary

  • Saint Anthony's fire — noun any of several inflammatory or gangrenous skin conditions • Hypernyms: ↑skin disease, ↑disease of the skin, ↑skin disorder • Hyponyms: ↑erysipelas * * * noun Usage: usually capitalized S&A …   Useful english dictionary

  • Saint Anthony's fire — n. any of several skin conditions or inflammations, as erysipelas or ergotism …   English World dictionary

  • Saint Anthony's fire — Saint An′thony s fire′ n. pat any of certain skin conditions that are of an inflammatory or gangrenous nature, as erysipelas • Etymology: 1570–80 …   From formal English to slang

  • Saint Anthony's fire — noun Date: 14th century any of several inflammations or gangrenous conditions (as erysipelas or ergotism) of the skin …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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