Ancient history reveals to us the early discovery and popular uses of the Papaver Somniferum opium species of plant.
Papaver Somniferum poppies history has been discovered to be as old as human history in time.
Historical records reveal an assortment of plant species were utilized by ancient civilizations as drugs. The population of these early civilizations endeavoured to find the psychological boost of things such as opium, tobacco or even alcohol.
Numerous variations of the benefits resulted from the intoxication of such a plant. Quite often an individual would take advantage of the drug-induced state to reveal visions of the not too distant future. However, as medical knowledge advanced throughout the ages, it was believed that an individual could actually remove these psychological symptoms. An early discovery of a natural medicine, from the Papaver Somniferum opium poppy pod, can be dated back to the earliest settlements of humankind.
One of the earliest historical recordings of a relationship between people and the opium poppy pod goes all the way back to the Sumerians from the age of 3300 B.C. The ancient society of Sumerians were one of the very first communities to truly grow and harvest Papaver Somniferum opium poppies as a staple crop amongst the many other varieties of staple crops that they cultivated. Written records of their use of the opium poppy Papaver Somniferum for medicinal or recreational purposes can be found in many of their historical writings. The name they gave for the Papaver Somniferum poppy was the “plant of joy”. Sumerians extracted opium from the poppy plants to arouse the same feeling of intoxication and euphoric conditions as brewers of beer beverages taken from barley crops. Furthermore, the poppy flower was used as a commodity to be traded for its value as a form of food supply, animal feed and fuel as well.
News of the monetary value of Papaver Somniferum opium quickly expanded throughout trading routes that ran from the Greece all the way back to the Persian Gulf. Accounts of Hippocrates, who was a well known the Greek physician, contain prescriptions for the healing power of pure opium to alleviate individuals of the symptoms of insomnia. Other accounts that were discovered later on by other physicians would concur with Hippocrates’ perceptions on the benefits of opium. Galen supported ingesting opium in addition to vegetable therapies. Dioscorides noted how opium combined with a liquid was a very important medicine for added strength. He also discussed how the dried pod of a Papaver Somniferum flower could be pulverized and blended with the liquid to make a beverage that would also provided similar benefits.
A Papaver Somniferum poppy pods ability to induce a dreamy state is derived from the chemical morphine which is one of the primary active ingredients in the drug opium. Pure and raw opium holds a healthy concentration of 5%-25% morphine which is determined by the process of how it was cultivated and processed.
During earlier times, one of the most popular ways of consuming opium was in a liquid form called elixir. The pure opium milk found in the Papaver Somniferum poppy pods were incorporated with plain water of red wine. This particular concoction didn’t solve the problems of a patient but the blissful state, caused by the consumption, aided greatly by reducing a patient’s pain and discomfort. The ancient Greek people believed that the physical world around them was closely associated to the quality of life supplied by their gods. The great supply of Papaver Somniferum seeds, found in dried poppy pods were viewed as a sign of fertility by Greek society.
Later on, Papaver Somniferum poppies expanded eastwards towards the countries of China and India which were along early 7th century trading routes. The Chinese nation eagerly accepted the fascination of the Papaver Somniferum poppy seed blended with bamboo juice. They believed that this combination gave them extraordinary healing power.
Current discoveries have categorized Papaver Somniferum opium as a drug that diminishes the senses and has catalogued opium as a narcotic. Since drugs such as opium, heroin, and morphine are listed as narcotics they are seen to be drugs that mitigate pain, diminish spasms, lower fevers and promote sleep in various patients.
Throughout time, and even up until current times, the spreading of the Papaver Somniferum poppy has been incredibly slow over frequent trading routes that are based on land. The European development of ocean traveling cargo ships quickly expanded the introduction of Papaver Somniferum opium into both the USA and England. The affluent citizens of Britain regularly ingested opium to soothe physical pain and other forms of ailments.
As the use of opium multiplied, it was eventually utilized to inaccurately solve problems such as cholera, ear aches, bronchitis, dysentery, and even measles. The opium creations calmed ailing patients and the fleeting relief from physical pain caused a false appearance of a patient regaining good health. During this period in time, opium was dubbed a "stimulant" simply because it was believed to be a good beginning on the road to recovery for a patient.
The pursuit to discover medicines that could at least temporarily relieve pain in the early 17th and 18th century was researched by almost every single developing nation. Papaver Somniferum opium was regularly consumed to obtain relief from ailments such as tuberculosis and. Britain, as well as the United Nations, imported 1,000`s of kilograms of raw extracted opium to satisfy the insatiable demand of the citizens.
In these particular nations the people chose to ingest opium in a liquid form commonly known as “Laudanum” or “black drop”. Laudanum was composed of an opium and alcohol mixture while other variations, called Laudanum Cydoniatum, was derived from a combination of opium and vinegar. In England, Laudanum was quite costly and was also easily purchased similar to acetaminophen of current days. In addition, it was even sold in common grocery stores as a medically approved temporary relief from symptoms of coughing and pain. Records of receipts from Vancouver to San Francisco reveal Papaver Somniferum poppy opium to be considered a regular grocery staple found alongside rice, tea, and even sugar.
Moreover, another use of Papaver Somniferum opium was in the form of a pill which was filled with opium. To make it easier to consume, and cover the strong bitter taste, it was sweetened with saffron, musk, nutmeg, and castor. The opium pill was generally thought to be so safe that even a pregnant mother could use it to fight morning sickness.
During the 1900`s opium was commonly listed as one of the ingredients in a vast array of patented medicines. One of these products was called Ayers Cherry Pectoral which contained opium as one of its main ingredients. This particular product was readily available to many Americans and British mothers and fathers who wanted to soothe their babies who were crying as a result of teething or hunger. Over the counter cough syrups, found in the mid 19th century commonly incorporated opium. Even in current times opium is still widely considered to be unmatched as an effective cough suppressant.
In the year of 1931 a scientist named Louis Lewin recorded opiates, derived from the Papaver Somniferum poppy, as a drug that quietened mental activity. He classified this state of sedation as “Euphorica”. In current time, the chemical properties of Papaver Somniferum opium are well chronicled, including images of changes to the brain activity by sophisticated and sensitive scanning machines. The exploration for naturally occurring medicines, such as those found in Papaver Somniferum poppies, carries on in the vast rainforests and oceans of this world.