Poppy plant is a native of Asia Minor. It was known to the ancient Greeks, and reached India and China by the eighth century. The main areas of cultivation are now in India, China, Asia Minor and the Balkans.
The milky ooze from poppy plant obtained by incision from the unripened capsules and thickened by spontaneous evaporation, is known as opium. Opium is one of the most valuable medicines available in the sap of the plants and if properly administered, can serve as a very useful drug.
Poppy seeds are found in poppy heads. They are recommended in many prescriptions for tonics. The plant is endowed with roots of strong fragrance. It is an erect, annual herb, with smooth surface and latex in all parts.
An analysis of poppy seeds show's them to consist of moisture, protein, fat, fibre and substantial amount of carbohydrates. Its mineral contents are calcium and phosphorus. Its calorific value is 408.
The sap of the plant contains oxalic acid and opium which has 25 alkaloids, the chief being morphine, codeine, thelaine, narcotine, narceine and papaverine.
Poppy seeds are effective in thirst, fever, inflammation and irritation of the stomach. The root is employed as one of the ingredients in several cooling medicines. An infusion of the root is given as a febrifuge or fever relieving drink-and a powder in bilious complaints. The essence of the root is used as tonic because of its stimulating qualities. It is believed to check vomiting in cholera.
About 30 grams of milk extracted from the seeds mixed with sugar can be used for treating insomnia. A teaspoon of poppy seed oil taken every night is also very effective.
Here is an easy-to-make home remedy for dysentery. About quarter teaspoon of the powder of poppy seeds are sauted to a. golden brown in honey. Taken twice a day, it gives relief from the symptoms. As these seeds have a sedative effect, they should not be take for more than three days continuously.
Poppy seeds on the stalks, which have not been slit 10 produce opium have soporific properties and are used for relieving pain. They can be used beneficially in griping pain after child-birth, colic and pain in the testicles.
Opium is useful in rheumatism, tumours of different kinds cancers, carbuncles, abscesses, ulcers, leprosy, syphilis or scrofula -that is, tuberculosis of the lymph node in which pain banish~ sleep, especially at night. The commencing dose is 6 centigrams of the extract. If it is insufficient, upto 18 centigrams may Ix advised to those who are unaccustomed to opium. Beyond this it is unsafe to go without any professional advice. This may Ix combined with 12 or 18 centigrams of camphor. Opium is very effective in spasms of bowels, relieving of pain and irritation the bladder caused by stone.
As an external remedy, the poppy plant has many uses. A , paste of the root rubbed on the skin can remove burning sensation of the body. A paste of its pulverized roots in water (]II . be used as a cooling agents. It finds use in external application in fevers.
Poppy seeds ground to paste with lime juice are effecti1t when rubbed on the areas affected by dry itch.
Opium is useful as a liniment for soothing both muscular and neuralgic pains. The liniment can be prepared by mixing centigrams of opium in 15 grams of coconut oil. It even soothes painful piles. In painful teeth cavities, a centigram of opium is put into the hollow of the tooth, but the saliva should not be swallowed.
Precautions: Opium can cause great harm if used without proper precautions, or in cases where the person is intolerant to its action or gets upset even with a smallest dose. In such cases, the drug should be avoided.
Infants and young children have poor tolerance to opium and they should be administered only under medical advice. It should be avoided during pregnancy and in kidney diseases.