The medicinal part is the latex extracted from the seed capsule.
Flower and Fruit
A solitary flower grows on a long, glabrous or pubescent pedicle. The flowers are erect with a diameter of 10 cm. There are 2 green, glabrous, falling sepals and 4 violet-white or red petals with a darker mark at the base. The fruit is round or ellipsoid and often has a very large capsule. The numerous seeds are reniform, pitted, black, and blue-frosted or whitish.
Leaves, Stem, and Root
The opium Poppy is an annual that grows 30 to 150 cm high. It is a single-stemmed, blue-gray frosted plant. The stem is erect, straight or branched, and produces white milky latex, as does the whole plant. The leaves are entire, glabrous, serrated, or crenate at the margin and clasping.
The cultivation of the plant and the extraction and sale of opium is banned in many countries.
The plant originated in western Asia. It is cultivated worldwide commercially.
Opium is the thickened latex collected from the outside of immature Poppy capsules that have had incisions made in the fruit capsules. The unripe seed capsules suitable for the production of opium are trimmed. Subsequent to drying, the processed latex is scraped off and formed into pieces of varying size. The obtained material is referred to as raw opium (Rohopium) and is also the basic substance used for the production of heroin.
Garden-Poppy, Mawseed, Opium Poppy
Actions & Pharmacology
Isoquinoline alkaloids (20-30%): chief alkaloids morphine (3-23%), narcotine (2-10%), codeine (0.2-3.5%), papaverine (0.5-3%), thebaine (0.2-1%).] The alkaloids are present as salts of meconic acid, lactic acid or fumaric acid.
Benzyl isoquinoline type: papaverine (0.5 to 3%)
Phthalide isochinoline type: narcotine (noscapine, 2 to 10%)
The main alkaloid is morphine, which is a strong analgesic that, even in small doses, causes euphoria, sedation, then narcotic sleep. It depresses breathing and slows down evacuation of the stomach, causing constipation and urine retention. Codeine has an antitussive effect and papaverine is spasmolytic and vasodilatory.
Indications & Usage
Opium is used most frequently as a sedative and/or analgesic. Uses in folk medicine include as a sedative in cases of typhus, intestinal tuberculosis and intestinal ulcers; for spasms of smooth muscle, bile ducts and urinary tract; for peritonitis; for gallstones, kidney stones and bladder colic; as well as for coughs and certain types of depression.
Uses in Chinese medicine include chronic coughs, diarrhea, dysentery, anal prolapse, and abdominal symptoms.
Irritable cough, ear and eye inflammation, proctologic symptoms, diarrhea, and dysentery are considered indications for use in Indian medicine.
Contraindications include pregnancy (alkaloids pass through the placenta barrier), nursing (alkaloids entering the mother's milk), illnesses connected with reduced respiratory function, pancreatitis, colon ulcers, elevated internal cranial pressure, acute hepatitis propheria, and biliary colic. Caution is to be observed when administering in the presence of Addison's disease and hypothyroidism because of opium's centrally depressive effect.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
No health hazards are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages. However, the following can occur as side effects: clonic twitching, constipation, dizziness, general weakness, headache, hyperthermia, itchy skin, rashes, and trembling of the hands. Sensitization has been reported, with papaverin the presumed allergen.
Overdosage leads initially to reduction of mental capacity, reactive euphoria, analgesia, miosis, bradycardia, slowed respiration. That can progress to respiratory failure, cyanosis, tonic-clonic spasms, pylorospasm and sphincterism, intestinal atonia, nausea, vomiting, pulmonary and brain edemas. Following gastrointestinal emptying (inducement of vomiting, gastric lavage with burgundy-colored potassium permanganate solution, sodium sulfate) and instillation of activated charcoal, the therapy for poisoning consists of electrolyte substitution, treating possible cases of acidosis with sodium bicarbonate infusions and administration of plasma volume expanders in the event of shock. Intubation and oxygen respiration may also be necessary. Naloxone (IV) is suitable as an antidote.
Mode of Administration
Opium is obsolete as a drug. Morphine is administered as a pure substance and in combination with other active substances, although it has been extensively replaced by synthetic analgesia. Codeine is used by itself and in combination with other agents. Numerous cases of death due to opium use are known.