Papaver Somniferum (LINN)

N.O. Papaveraceae


Opium Poppy, Mawseed, White Poppy,or, (var) Papaver Album.


poppies were first cultivated in Britain in the 17th c. by Mr. John Ball, of Williton. Cultivation experiments also in France and germany.British Pharmacopoeia states that opium used officially must come from poppies grown in Asia Minor.

11th c.: An Arabic physician, Mesue, made a cough treatment known as Syrupus de Meconio Mesuae.the name somniferum means sleep - inducing red, purple or white flowers.


At least 25 alkaloids comprising: morphine (0.1 to 0.3%),codeine, papverine, narcotine, meconic acid (5% with morphine), thebaine, narceine, Irhoedine, (latex) 25% alkaloid content,2% morphine, (Oil) (to 60%) lecithin, mucilage,sugar, wax, calcium and magnesium salts, sulphuric acid from its ash, starch, tannin, oxalic acid, fat.


hypnotic, sedative, narcotic, pain relief, relief of diarrhoea, pain killer, infusion from powdered capsule once used for sprains or bruises, expectorant, diaphoretic, syrup of poppy, veterinary: for pain and spasm; NB: opium and morphine are not calmative or hypnotic for animals.

Tincture of Opium, or Laudanum

3 oz opium

equal parts distilled water and alcohol

Decoction of Poppy

bruise fresh capsules of poppy and soak in distilled water.

For external use on painful areas.



By prescription only. If swallowed, stomach must be pumped and washed with potassium permanganate and the administration of nitrites and small doses of atropine hypodermically to maintain cardiac action. Also strychnine used hypodermically and artificial respiration. To prevent coma, apply caffeine and stimulant enemata.

N.B. When opium was a smoke for sale on the streets of Toronto, they used to say one could actually die if minutely overdosing. Dealers advised using a thumbs worth, or a lump the size of the pad of your thumb, resulting in a lot of difficulties for users. Are there still opium smokers? It was popular in Victorian times, but it is so dangerous.

Although my books do not say so, Heroin comes from the Opium Poppy.

Heroin is highly habituative, but actually has no deleterious side effects which could impair ones' health, except death from overdosing (common, I believe) and starvation or other violence from ripping oneself and others off for the cost of street heroin.

The narcotic was legalized for hospital use (by prescription) in some countries,and remains controvertial.


Link to Corn Poppy Article: Text  or   Companion Article: Text-Only



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