Scientific Name:Papaver somniferum
About this Herb:Papaver somniferum is the species of plant from which opium and poppy seeds are derived. Opium is the source of many narcotics, including morphine (and its derivative heroin), thebaine, codeine, papaverine, and noscapine. The Latin botanical name means the "sleep-bringing poppy", referring to the sedative properties of some of these opiates.
The plant itself is also valuable for ornamental purposes, and has been known as the "common garden poppy", referencing all the group of poppy plants.
Poppy seeds of Papaver somniferum are an important food item and the source of poppy seed oil, a healthful edible oil that has many uses. It is widely grown as an ornamental flower throughout Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.
The opium poppy is, by definition, the root source of all opioids considered opiates. Opiates are extracted from opium and poppy straw. Opium (also called “raw opium”) is the latex harvested by making incisions on the green capsules (seed pods). Poppy straw is the dried mature plant except the seeds, harvested by mowing.
From opium and poppy straw, alkaloids are extracted such as morphine, thebaine, codeine and oripavine. Morphine is the predominant alkaloid found in the varieties of opium poppy plant cultivated in most producing countries. The seeds and the oil extracted from them contain very low levels of opiates.
An annual plant it grows to heights from 3 to 5 feet. It gives rise to radiant white, purple, red and pink flowers that grow on a mid bulbous shell. Leaves are simple, alternate, toothed and clasping. Capsule like fruits hold the poppy seeds and the opium latex.
Common Names:White Poppy, Poppy, Mawseed, Herb of Joy, Mohn, Klapper-Rosen, Mago, Magesamen, Weismagen, wilder Magen, Magensaph, Rosule, Adormidero, Hashas, Kheshkhash Abu Al Noum, O Fang, O Fu Jung, O P'Ien, Tengkoh, Ya P'Ien, Yu Mi
Uses:The seeds are used in many ways for culinary purposes as is the oil extracted from them. Medicinally it has sedative properties, and can be used for pain. However, extended use can cause one to become dependent on this effect. As an analgesic it is used for minor pain. It also has cough suppressing properties and is very effective in treating intestinal stomach seizures as well as respiratory spasms that occur due to asthma attacks.
Applications:Inhalation: Make slits in young seed pods and allow the latex to seep out and dry. Then scrape off dried substance and smoke in pipe to relieve pain. Not to exceed more than one inhalation in 12 hours.
Tea: The young seed pod can be boiled in 2 cups of water to produce tea. Use in small amounts until desired effect is achieved. Beware of over dosage which can cause unconsciousness and respiratory failure.
Warnings:The opium derived from this plant is highly addictive and can be dangerous if over used. Children, pregnant and nursing women should not use opium.
Beware of over dosage which can cause unconsciousness and respiratory failure.