Opium Poppy – An Essential Herb
There are many herbal remedies that promises effective alleviation of many sickness and conditions.
However, they can also provide negative results and side effects when misused. It is important to understand that herbal remedies are encouraged as means of treatment that can offer a life-long sustenance. These alternative treatments can improve an individual’s health and well-being and are highly beneficial when applied correctly.
What is Opium Poppy?
The Papaver somniferum is a twelve-month period herb plant that mostly blooms in the month of May. It produces opium and poppy seeds, thus bringing its other names Opium Poppy, Sleep-bringing poppy and Bread Seed Poppy. In Latin, Somniferum means “to sleep” while Morphine, a derivative of this plant, came from the name of the God of Sleep, Morpheus. From the year 3000 BC, the Sumerians call Opium Poppy as the “joy plant”.
This herb is a native of Western Asia and Southeastern Europe where it is greatly cultivated in moist soil. Opium Poppy has the characteristic to survive cold climates including frosty weathers. It can grow to a maximum of two to four feet with varying flower colors that range from white, lavender, purple, pink and red.
Opium Poppy, is widely grown as an agricultural crop in many countries including Canada, Iran, Poland, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Romania, Czechoslovakia and India. It has many varieties that produce different physical characteristics. They come in many shapes, number of fruits, seeds and flowers. Aside from the striking beauty possessed by its flowers, this plant has been cultivated for thousands of years due to its medicinal and aesthetic benefits. Additionally, it has been long-established for use in cooking and other culinary purposes.
Is it Legal?
The Papaver somniferum produces a milky sap where opium is derived. This milky sap was called Opion by the early Greeks and it became the basis for its modern name Opium. Opium is widely used for its narcotic effects. It is the source of many sedatives such as thebaine, noscapine, papaverine and codeine. On the other hand, the Poppy seeds can be nurtured for its poppyseed oil which is highly regarded as a herbal extract beneficial for many uses.
In the U.S, due to some of the plant’s derivatives such as opium, morphine and heroin, Opium Poppy is regulated to be cultivated under the Controlled Substances Act Schedule II. Nevertheless, it can be purchased and utilized legally for ornamental and culinary purposes. The Papaver somniferum is also grown for ornamental purposes in some areas including countries of North America, South America, Europe and Asia. It is known as the common garden poppy.
The milestone for Opium Poppy as the best known medical narcotic was in 1803. This was the year when Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Serturner, a 20 year old German Pharmacist achieved success in separating Morphine from Opium Poppy. Since then, science and medical research took revolutionary measures to discover alkaloids in this particular plant. As a result, the birth of many narcotics and sedatives was accomplished.
Most of the uses of Opium Poppy are obtained from its seeds. Generally, the unripe seeds are derived for the production of narcotic alkaloids while for culinary purposes the ripe seeds are the plant parts commonly used.
As medication – Many pharmaceutical companies are using Opium and its extracts in different varieties of medications. They are used in sedatives, narcotic analgesics, antispasmodics or muscle relaxants, hypnotics, antitussives or cough suppressants, stomach and respiratory spasms and in antidiarrheals. Morphine which is an opium poppy-based drug is very useful in relieving pain. It is considered to be among the world’s best narcotic and most effective painkilling medication. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) enlisted Opium Poppy-based preparations in the essential drugs category.
The world’s need for the Opium Poppy plant is supplied by India, Australia and Turkey. In the United States, 80% of its raw materials needed for the making of narcotics come from these three major producers of Opium Poppy.
As culinary additives – The poppy seed and poppyseed oil are safe for human consumption. They contain very low amounts of opiates and are essential in the making of foods as natural flavoring or as a seasoning. The poppy seeds are used in the making of wet or dry curry paste due to their delicious flavor when roasted and ground. Moreover, the seeds are employed as an ingredient in baking because of its nutty aroma and flavor. The edible oil coming from the poppy seeds is consumed for cooking and used in the production of soaps, paints and varnishes.
For ornamental purposes – Most of the western countries allow Opium Poppies for this specific purpose. However, in the U.S, a permit may be needed before the poppies can be grown in gardens.
Is Opium Poppy An Herbal Remedy?
The Opium Poppy is among the most significant medicinal herb. In the early times, the product derived after the poppy have been dried can be used as an expectorant, astringent, hypnotic, aphrodisiac, diaphoretic, sedative, antispasmodic and narcotic. Additionally, Opium was utilized as a treatment for bad eyesight, toothaches, stomach illnesses, cough and asthma.
Since Thebaine has an enormous pharmaceutical value, there is an ongoing research for the development of Opium Poppies that are generally thebaine-rich. The new cultivars will carry a special characteristic that is low in morphine levels. This step is being undertaken to reduce the plant’s potential use for heroin conversion.
The California Poppy – This medicinal preparation is applied to relieve toothaches, mild colic, insomnia, tension, anxiety and headaches. For toothaches, the plant can be extracted for its juice while the plant’s roots can be cut and applied directly on the affected tooth. For the other conditions, the roots and the juice extracts can be used as a drink or a tea.
The Corn Poppy – The Corn poppy is a “crushed” tea preparation used for colds, coughs, and bronchitis. It can act as an expectorant and a mild sedative. The plant’s flower petals can be taken fresh or dried before crushing. Stir 2 teaspoons in a cup of boiling water to be taken three times every day.