Papaver somniferum has a very long tradition of use. The use of Papaver somniferum started in the Neolithic. This long period of time allowed the development of a broad range of different forms.
Papaver somniferum was domesticated by the indigenous people of Western and Central Europe between 6000 and 3500 BC. However, it is believed that its origins may come from the Sumerian people, where the first use of opium was recognized.
Use of the opium poppy antedates written history. Images of opium poppies have been found in ancient Sumerian artifacts (circa 4000 BC). The making and use of opium was known to the ancient Minoans. Its sap was later named opion by the ancient Greeks, from where it gained its modern name of opium.
Opium was used for treating asthma, stomach illnesses, and bad eyesight.
Ancient Egyptian doctors would have their patients eat seeds from a poppy to relieve pain. Poppy seeds contain small quantities of both morphine and codeine, which are pain-relieving drugs that are still used today.
Poppy seeds from Papaver somniferum are an important food item and the source of poppyseed oil, an edible oil that has many uses.
Opium poppy has been used since ancient times for pain relief. In the Middle Ages, the resulting opium was also used as part of so-called sleep sponges for anesthesia in surgical operations. Morphine is used for pain relief in severe pain, such as tumors, as well as chronic pain of various origins, but also used as an inebriation drug. In the case of an overdose of morphine death (lethal dose) sets in through respiratory depression. Codeine has only one-sixth to one-twelfth of the analgesic efficacy of morphine and is used as an antitussive in severe irritable cough. Noscapine and narceine are not analgesic and have an antitussive effect like codeine, but it is weaker. Furthermore, unlike morphine, noscapine and narceine are mildly respiratory and bronchodilator. Papaverine is used in convulsions of the stomach, gall bladder, intestine, and urinary tract and also in renal colic. Opium tincture was formerly often prescribed for gastrointestinal spasms, diarrhea, and emotional distress, but because of its addictive effects, it is barely today. The contained Benzylisochinolinalkaloide (eg Papaverin) can be used also as Spasmolytikum.
Ingesting about 1 to 2 cups of the plant (leaves, flowers etc.) tea or less (try microdosing first), induces a visionary and dreamlike state of mind and should be best used in nature.