[L. opium, Gk. opion, poppy-juice.] A vegetable extract which is the most active of all narcotics, and a valuable medicine. It is obtained from the dried juice of the opium-poppy, which grows wild in many parts of Asia, and is now largely cultivated in India, Persia, and China, and to a considerable extent in some parts of Europe. Much of the opium raised in India is sent to China, where it is largely used for smoking, with baneful effects. As a medicine it relieves pain, allays irritation of the nervous system, and produces sleep. Morphia is the active principle, and the quality of the opium is judged by the quantity of morphia it contains. Laudanum, a crude preparation of opium in spirits of wine, is the form in which opium is very largely used.