Opium, Poppy Seeds Benefits, Research, Dose, Side Effects

Opium poppy – Papaver somniferum has two useful parts – Opium – the fruit latex exudate – which is used as narcotic and poppy seeds is commonly used in preparing many food items. 

Capsule of Poppy with latex exuding

Botanical name – Papaver somniferum
Family – Papaveraceae

Vernacular names

Names in different languages: 
Hindi name – Postha, Khas Khas
English name – Opium Poppy seed, Khas Khas seeds
Kannada name – Gasagase
Bengali name – Postodheri
Telugu name- Nalla Mandu

Sanskrit synonyms

General synonyms – Phaniphena, Nagaphena, Ahiphenak
Apooka, Aphenaka, Aphooka  – are the synonyms of fruit latex exudate (opium)
Khasa Tila, Tila bheda, Khakhasa, Khakhasa Tila – are synonyms for opium poppy seeds (khas khas)

evolution of opium poppy
evolution of opium poppy

Classical categorisation

Ahiphen is categorized as Upa Visha dravya (sub toxic group) by Dhanvantari Nighantu, Bhava Prakasha and Rasa Tarangini


Found in west Asia. Now grown in UP, Hoshiarpur of Punjab, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh regions of India.

opium plant

Chemical constituents

Papaver somniferum chemical constituents:
Crude opium contains about 25 alkalouds. Some of them are –  Morphine (10%), Codein (0.05 %), Papaverene, Narcotine, Meconic acid, Apomorphine.
Phenanthres: Morphime, Codeine, Baine
Isoquinolines – Papararines (1%) and narcotine (6%)
(Reference: Illustrated Dravyaguna VIjnana, Vol. II, by Dr JLN Shastry)

Poppy seeds


Opium – purified resin – 30 – 125 mg. (quarter to one Gunja)
Poppy seeds are used in preparing foods, usually used in a dose of 1 – 5 grams in divided doses per day.

 poppy flower

Poppy medicinal qualities

Guna (qualities) – Laghu (lightness), Rooksha (dryness), Sookshma (minuteness), Vyavayi (spreads to all parts of the body swiftly),
Rasa(Taste) – Tikta (bitter), Kashaya (Astringent)
Vipaka – Katu – Undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion
Veerya – Ushna – Hot potency

Effects on Tridosha

Opium – latex is Kaphahara – balances Kapha Dosha and increases Vata and Pitta Dosha.
Poppy seeds increase Kapha Dosha and decrease Vata Dosha

Sanskrit verse

Poppy medicinal uses

Poppy seed, oil benefits

Balya – improves strength and immunity
Vrushya – aphrodisiac
Guru – heavy
Useful in gastritis
Increases Kapha Dosha and decreases Vata Dosha.
Used in neurological disorders, depression, anxiety, neuropathy, neuralgia, muscle pain, spasms etc.
Its kheer (sweet liquid dish) is prepared and administered to treat insomnia.

Poppy seed oil possesses most of the therapeutical benefits similar to seeds.

Opium latex benefits

Opium benefits (latex – exudate)
Shodhana – cleansing
Grahi – absorbent, bowel binding, useful in IBS, diarrhoea
Shleshmaghna – balances Kapha
Increases Vata and Pitta Dosha
Atisara – useful in diarrhea
Sannipata – used in chronic fever

Poppy based drug Morphine is used to treat cancer related severe pains.
Codeine, another extract from Opium is used in treating cough. It is used in the form of linctus. But, because of its addictive nature, many cases of abuse of linctus codeine cough syrup are commonly noted in India.
Papaverine is used as a muscle relaxant.

Use for sleep

Poppy seeds – for good sleep –
1 gram of poppy seed is boiled in half a cup of milk for 1 minute. It is consumed at night. This remedy can be continued for a period of 1 month.

Poppy seeds recipe

A tablespoon of recipe is ground by adding a little water and a teaspoon of grated dry coconut. This mix paste is added with a tablespoon of jaggery (unrefined sugar) and heated to just below boiling.
This is administered as it is, in a teaspoon dose or along with milk at night, to induce sleep and also for aphrodisiac effect.

Purification method

Ahiphena Shodhana: purification of opium –
It is dissolved in water, filtered, heated in mild heat till total water evaporates. This paste is ground with ginger juice for 21 times, dried under shade and preserved. (Rasa Tarangini 24 / 237-239)

Remedy for toxicity

In Thailand Gotu Kola is used in detoxification of Opium poisoning. For this purpose, Gotu Kola paste or water decoction in higher doses is administered for a period of few months.


The analgesic activity of this compound was studied in the mouse by GOMEZ-SERRANILLOS M. P. Madrid 1998
Studies on protein in seeds
Alkaloid profile

Side effects

Opium (fruit extract) should be used only under medical supervision in very low dose, only if necessary. It is a highly addictive narcotic and is best avoided during pregnancy, lactation, aged and in children.
It is best avoided in chronic urinary tract disorders, gastro enteritis and nephritis.
Poppy seeds are generally used in food and is quite safe to use.

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic medicines with Papaver somniferum as ingredient:
Nidroday Ras – used in treatment of lack of sleep
Ashtakshari Gulika – Ayurvedic tablet used in indigestion, diarrhoea, dysentery and abdominal colic pain.
Trivang Bhasm – used in treatment of diabetes, etc.

How to procure opium for manufacturing of Ayurvedic medicines?
Here are basic guidelines. First up, you need to have a GMP certified Ayurveda medicine manufacturing unit.
Meet narcotics department, locally.
They will give a form to fill up along with a few formalities.
You will have to prove that you are procuring it for the sole purpose of preparing Ayurveda medicine, the quantity required, which medicine are you preparing, your license documents etc.
There are legal opium and alkaloid factories from where you can procure opium.
For more details – visit this website – http://goaf.gov.in/index.html
Contact details of officials  http://goaf.gov.in/feedback.html#contact

3 thoughts on “Opium, Poppy Seeds Benefits, Research, Dose, Side Effects”

    • Mr. Prof. Deshpande! You need to understand that the intention here is not to educate someone about the Sanskrit language. It is not a Sanskrit Class. And above mentioned Shlokas are taken from the books as they are.


Write Your Comment Below

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.