Home Grown Pain Relief:The Opium Poppy

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Top Tier Gear USA


The Opium Poppy

Although once popular as a painkiller most opium is now refined into heroin and sold illicitly for high prices in almost every city on the planet. All of this heroin started life as the gum gleaned from Papaver somniferous, the opium poppy.

For decades most of the worlds illegal opium has been produced in Afghanistan and the ‘Golden Triangle’, a region of south west Asia. In recent years the amount coming out of Latin America, predominantly Mexico and Colombia, has increased, though cocaine is still the most widely produced drug in the region as it is far easier to refine in large amounts and is currently very popular which means high prices are paid for it.

Opium is obtained from the unripe seed pods of the opium poppy and this is the only poppy that produces opium even though almost all poppies will bleed a milky, sticky latex like sap if the unripened seed pods are nicked with a sharp knife.

Legal production of opium to use as a base for narcotic analgesics accounts for more than 50% of the opium grown worldwide. Australia and India have ideal poppy growing climates and most of the medicinal opium is grown in one of the two countries.

Opium is widely used as a local native medicine in some parts of the world, and the process of obtaining it is simple. The unripe seed heads are slit from just beneath the flattened head of the pod down to the area where the pod joins the stem.

This is done several times allowing the latex to seep out. This is collected, boiled in water, passed through a simple filter and dried. The opium contains a number of active ingredients that work together to make this a potent pain killer. Indigenous people in these areas smoke it, eat it or prepare it as a drink, all of these methods of ingestion provide them with the opiate effect of the drug.

Opium poppies look VERY like the common oriental poppy  and care should be taken to make sure you get the ornamental variety for your flower bed. (I have to say that) Most people cannot tell them apart unless they know a good deal about the poppy genus.


Oriental poppy



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Contributed by Lizzie Bennett of Underground Medic.

Lizzie Bennett retired from her job as a senior operating department practitioner in the UK earlier this year. Her field was trauma and accident and emergency and she has served on major catastrophe teams around the UK. Lizzie publishes Underground Medic on the topic of preparedness.

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  • David

    The correct name is “papaver somniferum”, and it’s easy to grow and legal in the USA. Seeds are sold everywhere they sell flower seeds, and I see it growing all over Portland, Oregon. It’s easy to make into medicine, or you can eat the whole pods. Why does this article discourage growing a flower it implies is “home grown pain relief”? Technically it may be illegal in the USA, but it is de facto legal in Portland, even though non-drug cannabis hemp is still illegal.

  • wizard

    You really need to do more research.The easiest way to extract opium is to wait for the poopies to die. Shake out the seeds from the seed capsules and collect the stalks and seed heads. Cut up the poppy straw and gently simmer for a couple of hours, strain out the straw and using a double boiler reduce the remaining liquid till it resembles molasses. I have been producing opium in this manner for about 5 years.

    • David

      You are an IDIOT. Most of the opium is gone by the time the pod dies and you shake out the seeds. Yes you can make opium your way, but you get much less of the opium alkaloids. Calling them “poopies” says it all about your comment!