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Poppy – (Papaver rhoeas)


Red, or corn poppy, is an annual that likes to grow wherever the dirt has been turned. It used to be found in farmers' fields along with crop plants before the widespread use of herbicides. The flowers have only a few petals, but are very showy. The species grows wild around the cemeteries in Flanders, where it became associated with the fallen soldiers of World War I. To this day, veterans groups sell red paper poppies to raise money for their various projects.

Key Medicinal Uses

Internally – The flower has long been used medicinally. It is mostly used as a mild pain reliever and to treat irritable coughs. It can also reduce nervous hyperactivity. It is non-addictive, unlike its cousin, the opium poppy. An infusion can be taken for bronchial troubles, coughs, insomnia, poor digestion, nervous stomach and minor pain. The flowers have also been used for jaundice. The latex in the seedpods is a narcotic and is a mild sedative. The leaves and seeds can be used for low fevers. The herb is showing some promise as an anticancer remedy.

Externally – not used externally.

Other Uses – Poppy seed is used raw or cooked in cakes, bread, fruit salads and other foods. It gives a nutty flavor. A red dye from the petals has been used as a food flavoring and in wines, as well as for dyeing inks. The petals are also dried and added to potpourri to add color.

Parts Used

Flowers – The flowers are most frequently used medicinally.


The herbal remedy should only be used under the direction of a qualified herbalist. The seeds are edible, but the rest of the plant contains alkaloids like morphine, codeine, thebaine, papaverine and noscapine, which can be toxic. While mild, this plant can be dangerous if taken without proper guidance.

The red poppy is not addictive like the opium poppy, but this should not make anyone think this herb can be taken lightly. Excessive doses can cause convulsions and coma in animals. Pregnant and nursing women should not use this herb. There are no known drug interactions.

Preparation and Dosage

For an infusion, pour one cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried petals. Let the solution infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and drink three times per day. For a tincture, take 2 to 4 ml of red poppy tincture three times per day. Follow the dosing instructions given to you by your herbalist or physician carefully.

Poppy Herbal Remedies Top