Monday, December 15, 2008

Papaver somniferum L.

Family : Papaveraceae

Synonym(s) : Papaver officinale, Gmel., Papaver hortense, Huss. Papaver setigerum DC.

English Name : Poppy Seed. Opium. White Poppy and Mawseed

Origin : Mediterranean region

The plant is an erect, herbaceous annual, varying much in the colourof its flowers, as well as in the shape of the fruit and colour of the seeds. All parts of the plant, particularly the walls of the capsules, or seed-vessels, contain a system of laticiferous vessels, filled with a white latex. The flowers vary in colour from pure white to reddish purple. In the wild plant, they are pale lilac with a purple spot at the base of each petal. The capsules vary much in shape and size. They are usually hemispherical, but depressed at the top, where the many-rayed stigma occupies the centre; they have a swollen ring below where the capsule joins the stalk. Some varieties are ovoid, others again depressed both at summit and base. The small kidney-shaped seeds, minute and very numerous, are attached to lateral projections from the inner walls of the capsule and vary in colour from whitish to slate. The heads are of a pale glaucous green when young. As they mature and ripen they change to a yellowish brown, and are then cut from the stem if the dried poppy heads are required.

Often found on wastelands; Asia Minor, parts of Europe, India, Turkey, Persia, northwestern Africa, China and North America.

Parts Used : Latex, seed, flower, fruit and plant

Herb Effects
Analgesic, aphrodisiac, astringent, narcotic, hypothermic and lowers blood pressure (latex); alleviates spasms and stimulates the cardiovascular system (fruit); laxative (seed); increases nerve strength, sedative, relieves pain, anticonvulsive, emollient.

Active Ingredients
Allocryptopine, apomorphine, berberine, papaverine, thebaine, narceine, morphine, reticuline, rhoeadine, sanguinarine (plant); alpha-linolenic acid, arginine, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, lecithin, linoleic acid, methionine, niacin, oleic acid, oxalic acid, palmitic acid, phenylalanine, riboflavin, squalene, stearic acid, thiamin, tryptophan, tyrosine (seed); citric acid, codeine, magnoflorine, malic acid, narcotine, (latex exudate); papaverine (fruit).

Medicinal Use
Bruises, sprains, toothache, cancer, tumors of the abdomen, catarrh, colds, conjunctivitis, ophthalmia fever, headache, diarrhea, dysentery, dysmenorrhea, hypertension, insomnia, leprosy, malaria, mania, nausea, stomach ache, neuralgia, whooping cough. It is administered to relieve pain and calm excitement.

In its primary influence it is a brain and nerve stimulant. It, is, therefore, contra-indicated where there is an irritated and overstimulated nervous system, with flushed face, bright eyes with contracted pupils, dry, hot skin, dry, coated tongue and inactivity of the excretory functions. Administered under these circumstances, it will increase the restlessness and induce general distress and painful wakefulness.


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