This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
COMMON NAME. Poppy.
MEDICINAL PART. Concrete juice of unripe capsule.
Description. -- An annual herb, with an erect, round, green, smooth stem, from two to four feet high. Leaves large, oblong, green; margins wavy, incised, and toothed; teeth sometimes tipped with a rigid hair. Flowers large, calyx smooth, and the fruit a large, smooth, globose capsule. There are two varieties, the black and white.
History. -- A native of Asia and Egypt. It grows apparently wild in some parts of Europe and in England, but has escaped the gardens. Cultivated in Asia Minor, Egypt, Persia, and India, for the opium obtained from it. The white variety is cultivated on the plains of India, and the black in the Himalayas. Its virtues have been known to the ancients; for Homer speaks of the poppy growing in gardens. Poppy capsules contain a small quantity of the principles found in opium, and the effect is similar, but much weaker than it possesses. They are used medicinally; but opium is almost universally used.
Properties and Uses. -- Opium is a narcotic and stimulant, acting under various circumstances as a sedative, antispasmodic, febrifuge, and diaphoretic. It is anodyne, and extensively used for that purpose. It contains many active principles, morphia and codeia being, however, the most important. There is no herbal medicine more extensively used, as well as abused, than Opium, and though a valuable remedy, its indiscrimate use is pernicious, as it is capable of doing great harm. Laudanum and paregoric are the forms mostly used in domestic practice, but the "soothing syrups" and "carminatives" found in every nursery and household all contain Opium in some form, and work a great deal of mischief.
Dose. -- Opium, one grain; laudanum, twenty drops; paregoric, a teaspoonful.