The poppy that most people think of are the large red poppies made iconic by the film The Wizard of Oz; it’s Latin name somnifera comes from the Latin somnus, “sleep”, and ferre, “bring” in reference to the plants ability to bring sleep.
These are also the poppies that we get seeds from for bagels, hamentaschen, as well as opium.
Poppies have been used for their medicinal properties since the time of ancient Mesopotamia. The seeds are an effective calming agent and may also help relax smooth muscles.
They have been used in the treatment of anxiety, asthma, bronchitis, coughs, diarrhea, insomnia, pneumonia, pleurisy, and tonsillitis.
Because of their association with opium, poppy medicine has all but dissapeared from modern herbalists repertoires; it takes significantly large amount of a specific compound extracted from the unripe seeds to make opium, an dunless one is eating massive quantities of the seeds, you are unlikely to feel an opium-like effects.
However, there is the possibility of someone showing positive for opiates on drug-screening tests.
California poppies are the smaller golden poppies commonly grown as ornamental plants and are the ones more traditionally used by western herbalist.
Latin Name: Papaver rhoeas, P. somniferum
Family: Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)
Parts Used: Seed
Energetics: sour, cool, moist, yin
Actions: analgesic, anodyne, antispasmodic, antitussive, diaphoretic, expectorant, narcotic (mild), nutritive, sedative