Friday, August 20, 2010

California Poppy

I was recently given a bunch of California Poppy seeds. I am waiting for fall to plant them. I have always loved the beautiful bright orange flowers.

My Herbalist teacher recently mentioned on her facebook account that after undergoing a painful diagnostic test, she intended to use this herb to help get rid of the pain and let her sleep. I had never heard of it used medicinally, though I have heard of our local Prickly Poppy (big white flowers) being used like that (and of course everyone has heard of the Opium Poppy and its affects).

(Source for picture:

Ca Poppies contain isoquinoline alkaloids, which are known to have pain-relieving properties.Other active constituents include opiate alkaloids (completely free of toxicity), chelerthyrine alkaloids, flavone glycosides and zinc.

A little research tells me that the California Poppy is good for:
  • a painkiller when applied directly to the afflicted area.
  • toothache 
  • chronic bed wetting.
  • hypnotic for children to sedate them and help them sleep.
  • colic and gall bladder pain.
  • sedative for headaches
  • insomnia
  • antidepressant
  • acute nerve and muscular centered pain.
  • anxiety,
  • high fever,
  • rapid pulse
  • persistent spasmodic cough
  • nervousness,
  • restless,
  • agitation,
  • insomnia,
  • sedative,
  • intestinal colic,
  • rheumatism,
  • earaches
  • analgesic
  • tincture is used for antimicrobial properties applied externally to cuts and scrapes.
  • head lice
  • antispasmodic 
  • to improve intellectual capacity, memory and concentration in the elderly.
  • leaves of the flower used externally in powder form for antimicrobial properties
  • ADD, ADHD in children and young adults
  • oxygenates the circulatory system
  • normalize psychological functions by influencing the neurotransmitters without depressing the central nervous system.
  • helps the body absorb vitamin A.
  • Contains the B complex vitamins
  • European communities use it for hyperactivity,
    • sleeplessness 
    • coughs for children
    • included in preparations for insomnia for adults.
  • German Commission E lists California poppy as an antispasmodic and sedative.
  • relaxing, so it works well in cases of pain with anxiety. 
  • tincture from the root as an external wash for suppressing lactation 
  • A key alkaloid (chelerthyrine) inhibits a body protein (kinase C) that contributes to persistent pain.
  • used both internally and externally to alleviate inflammatory and arthritic pain.
Plant Parts Used: (the entire plant of the Californian poppy is harvested in maturity.)
  • Root,
  • leaves
  • seeds.
Bitter to the taste with subtle euphoric properties,
considered a sub-opiate

Toxicity: There have been no indications of toxicity for Eschscholzia californica in experimental studies or in anecdotal reports.

Contraindications and cautions:
  • fever,
  • pregnancy;
  • concurrently with prescription drugs and psychiatric medications.
When used in higher doses California Poppy acts as a sedative, inducing a pleasant drowsy feeling, not enough to promote marked sedation, but powerful enough that tasks such as driving or operating machinery are best avoided under its influence.

Herbalists have observed that crude herb extracts of the various poppy species are less addictive and less potent in their activities than the purified alkaloids (opium in the red poppy), with fewer side-effects. Unlike opiates or even the stronger acting Poppy species, Rudolf Weiss states that the effect of California Poppy is towards "establishing equilibrium," and is not at all narcotic (1988, 289).

 Use in:
  • lotion,
  • liniment,
  • tincture
  • plaster.
  • infusion
  • tinctures
  • dried powder of herbs
    Moore recommending that it be combined with Valerian for a stronger effect (1993, 112).
  Felter and Lloyd considered Eschscholzia to be an "…analgesic and soporific without the dangers attending opiates, quieting pain and producing (a) calm sleep" (1893).

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