Sleeping poppy – hypnotic poppy

(Papaveraceae); hypnotic poppy


The use of home-made sleeping poppy products, as well as various extracts in the form of mixtures and pure alkaloids, is a scourge of Asian countries. It is enough to recall stories about opium smokers – people completely addicted to the use of this drug, which destroys the human body with great speed.

On the other hand, medicinal products of poppy are of great importance. That is why we include an essay about this plant.

Sleeping poppy is an annual herbaceous plant 50-120 cm tall. The stem is bare or pubescent with sparse rough hairs, sometimes branched at the top. Leaves (except the lower ones) are stem-wrapped, whole, large-toothed or incised-bladed, gray. The flowers are large, bisexual, four-petalled, single, on tall peduncles. Their petals are white, purple or purple, with a white, purple or yellowish spot at the base. They bloom in June-July. The fruit is a round box containing a large number of seeds.

In the southern regions of Russia, sleeping poppy is grown in gardens, in the middle zone it is usually used as an ornamental plant in gardens. Sometimes it is found wild in littered places. It is grown throughout Ukraine as a medicinal, oil and decorative plant. Natural populations of this type of poppy are unknown. Introduced into culture since ancient times.

For medicinal purposes, pods of oil poppy varieties with the top of the stem are harvested only after full ripening (the heads should be yellow-brown). They keep the pods and seeds as a poisonous plant. The shelf life is 3 years.

Sleeping poppy contains 26 alkaloids (their total amount in dry heads reaches 1-2.5%). In medicine, the most important of them are morphine, codeine and papaverine. In addition to alkaloids, the plant contains organic acids, phytosterol and other organic compounds.

Morphine is the main representative of the group of narcotic analgesics. It blocks the transmission of pain impulses to the cerebral cortex, suppresses the respiratory, cough and vomiting centers, inhibits the secretory activity of the digestive glands and the motor function of the gastrointestinal tract, enhances the effect of other drugs, as well as hypnotic and anesthetic substances. Morphine is used only under the strict supervision of the attending physician in hospitals after major operations, with severe pain associated with pathology of internal organs, injuries, renal colic, and in case of insomnia due to pain.

With repeated use of morphine, a painful addiction to this product develops, which is called morphinism and is accompanied by severe mental disorders and the occurrence of pathological changes in internal organs.

Another alkaloid is codeine, its pain-relieving properties are less pronounced. In therapeutic doses, it reduces the excitability of the cough center, but does not suppress it. Codeine is included in various cough tablets and a soothing mixture according to Bekhterev. In combination with analgin, amidopyrine and other analgesics, codeine is prescribed for headaches and neuralgia.

Papaverine has antispasmodic properties, reduces the tone of smooth muscles and relaxes them, has a calming effect on the central nervous system. Papaverine is prescribed (often in combination with other means) for high blood pressure, angina, migraine, spasms of blood vessels, smooth muscles of the abdominal cavity.

Treatment with sleeping poppy products is prescribed only by the attending physician. Morphine and codeine are contraindicated for the elderly and children under two years of age, as well as for liver diseases, bradycardia (slow heart rate), and respiratory failure.

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