Opium Poppy: Complete Guide

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The opium poppy plant, Papaver somniferum, is a flower plant that is a member of the Papaveraceae Family.  The Papaveraceae Family is informally known as the “poppy family” because it contains over 700 species of flowering poppy plants.  The opium poppy plant is perhaps the most popular member of this family.  It is used to create opium, which is why it has earned the name, the “joy plant.”  You can learn all of the main facts about the opium poppy below, including info on how to make Opium Poppy Tea.

This post is for informational purposes only, I do not suggest growing or ingesting poppy plants in any form.  It is dangerous and can lead to possible addiction.

Related Reading: Discover the Best Poppy Seeds for Tea

Opium Poppy Seed Tea eBook

poppy seed tea book

If you would like to learn more about the Opium Poppy, you should check out my new eBook on Opium Poppy Seed Tea!  It includes detailed methods for making Opium Poppy Seed Tea, in addition to the benefits and effects.  This is a great way to support the PSTR website and help it grow!  You can click the link below to purchase the book, or click the image above to learn more.  I appreciate your support!

Note: The current price is limited to the first 10 customers.  This is to reward the first people that purchase the book.


opium poppy facts


Opium Poppy Species

The opium poppy plant is scientifically known as Papaver somniferum.  It is called the opium poppy because opium is actually derived from this plant.  It is a member of the Poppy Family, and is related to the California Poppy Plant (Eschscholzia californica).  This family is known for plants with beautiful flowers, many species are popular in gardening and are used worldwide for this purpose.

Opiate Alkaloids

The opium poppy contains several opiate alkaloids which are used as a natural defense to protect against predators.  These alkaloids include morphine, codeine, thebaine, and papaverine.  Morphine is by far the most abundant of the alkaloids present in this plant, followed by codeine and thebaine.  Morphine has been used for thousands of years worldwide for severe pain management.  Opium is derived from the milky latex that is contained primarily within the pod.  To harvest the opium, the skin on the pod is usually sliced allowing the latex to slowly leak out.  The dried latex is then collected hours later.

Opium Poppy History

The opium poppy plant has been cultivated worldwide for thousands of years.  The first known reference of opium being used is from 3,400 BC.  This was associated with its use in Mesopotamia which is present day southwest Asia.  Ancient Sumerians referred to the plant as Hul Gil, the “Joy Plant.”  The Sumerians taught the cultivation techniques to the Assyrians, who in turn taught the Egyptians.  The Silk Road increased the plant’s reach and popularity, and it ended up causing the Opium Wars in the 1800’s.  Britain used the East India Company to send large amounts of opium to China.  This led to widespread addiction in China which caused the war.  The Chinese brought the opium usage techniques with them to America where they worked on the expanding railroad network.  The Chinese usually smoked the opium in “opium dens.”  The popularity of opium increased in the United States and resulted in the drug being scheduled by the DEA

Opium Poppy Uses

The opium poppy plant is the most powerful and popular flower in the world due to its desired effects.  The plant has been used for thousands of years to make opium, and it contains morphine and codeine.  These opiates are used for pain reduction, as anti-anxiety medication, and as a sedative.  The pain management properties of this plant are especially popular in times of armed conflict and war.  The pain reduction helps people make it through complex surgical procedures after being wounded, and has helped save millions of lives over the course of history.

Opium Poppy Seeds

The poppy seeds are technically the only part of the plant that is legal in the United States.  The seeds contain the same alkaloids as the rest of the plant, although the levels are lower than the pod.  The unwashed poppy seeds can be used to make poppy seed tea, which is consumed to obtain the same effects as other opiates.  Some people use the seeds to cultivate their own plants, but local laws should be checked before growing this plant.  To learn more about growing poppy plants, check out the site motherearthliving.

Sincerely Nuts is an excellent brand of unwashed poppy seeds. They have been selling unwashed poppy seeds for years, and they can currently be purchased on Amazon. I have included an Amazon link to the 3 pound package below:

Sincerely Nuts Whole Blue Poppy Seeds 3LB Bag


Opium Poppy Tea

Poppy tea is a popular herbal tea made from the opium poppy plant.  The pods, stems, and seeds of the opium poppy plant can be used to make poppy tea.  The tea can be made with hot or cold water.  The water is infused with the opiate alkaloids present in the plant, and this results in the drinker consuming the same alkaloids present in raw opium.  The primary alkaloids are morphine and codeine.  The tea is known for its bitter taste and dark appearance.  Many tea drinkers add flavoring agents to help improve the taste of the bitter tea.  Since it has become increasingly difficult to find unprocessed opium pods, many people have switched to using poppy seeds to make poppy seed tea.  Here is a YouTube video showing How to Make Poppy Seed Tea.

Abuse & Addiction Potential

The alkaloids present in the opium poppy are highly addictive when used in large amounts consistently. This is due to the release of dopamine and serotonin after consuming the opiates.  This addiction can lead to withdrawal if an addicted individual suddenly stops consuming the opiates.  Extreme caution and care should be taken when considering whether or not to consume any form of opiates, including pain medication.  These powerful drugs have led to the current opiate addiction problem present in the United States and worldwide.

Learn where to Find Unwashed Poppy Seeds 


The opium poppy plant has several uses that help society, but it can also result in abuse and addiction.  The pain management properties of the alkaloids found in the plant have helped save millions of lives over history.  This is one of the most powerful and popular plants in the world.  It should be respected accordingly.

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Do you have anything to add to this discussion?  Feel free to leave questions or comments below!

Opium Poppy: Ultimate Guide
Article Name
Opium Poppy: Ultimate Guide
Learn the facts about the Opium Poppy, Papaver somniferum. This includes history, uses, effects, cultivation methods, and where to find seeds.
Publisher Name
Poppy Seed Tea Recipe
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2 Replies to “Opium Poppy: Complete Guide”

  1. HI Brandon,
    I loved your site. The question I have is: The seeds you get to make tea, are they viable to grow?
    I do not want to start an opium den or such nonsense, I am a prepper of sorts and happen to be a disabled veteran. I have almost completly recovered from a broken neck–one of my medicines for that is an extended release morphine. I totally understand the physical addiction part of this drug I have been on the same dose for over six years, and have run out beteen refills a time or two. I want to have a small garden of flowers replenishing themselves in a wild like state just in case.
    Again thank you for the great site and information.

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