Papaver somniferum
Papaver somniferum is the Latin name for the Opium Poppy. The poppy has been used in foods and medicine for thousands of years. The plant can grow to about 3 or 4 feet tall, depending on the cultivar. There are wide varieties of poppies that can yield many different types of flowers, because of this it is used in many gardens as an ornamental plant. If used in this manner, it is legal to grow a poppy in America. Under US law, it only becomes illegal when a) the grower has the intent of harvesting the poppy for it's drug content, or b) the large bulb that contains the alkaloids (drug content) is cut open. Around the world, most poppies are grown for their high drug content, large variety of alkaloids, and ease of synthesizing those alkaloids into recreational or medical drugs.

Appearance
The Opium Poppy can be identified by:
- Large, Bulbous fruit
- 3-4 ft height
- 4 petals on leaf, light pink in color (color may differ)
- Capsule has a flat top
- Long tap root
- Oblong, lobed blue-green leaves

The Opium Poppy can be used to create the following medicines/ drugs:
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-Oxycodone
-Vicodin
-Codine
-Morphine
-Thebaine
-Heroin
-Papaverine
-Noscapine
-Opium
-Acetyldihydrocodeine
-Oxymorphone
-Buprenorphine*

*Used as treatment for addiction to any of the other Opiate narcotics.

Medicinal Value
The current uses for most Opiates are pain relief and as a sedative for surgery or general sleep aid. A rare use of one, Buprenorphine, is used to treat addicts of any type of Heroin and Opium. Morphine, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Acetyldihydrocodeine, Vicodin, and Oxymorphone are used as mild-to-high strength pain relievers. Heroin, Opium, Noscapine, Papaverine, and Thebaine are consumed for almost entirely recreational purposes, although any of the opiates other than Buprenorphine can be used for recreational purposes. Opiates have been used for; pain relief, sedation, anesthiseia, diarrhea, fever, and insomnia.

History
The earliest use of Opium was in BC 3400, when the Mesopotamians first farmed the plant for its effects as a drug. In BC 460, Hippocrates recognized the drug for its medicinal purposes. In AD 1200, the Indians began using opium as a treatment for diarrhea. In 1803, Friedrich Serturner synthesized morphine from the poppy, putting it into its pure form. In 1841, the British and Chinese fought a war over the rights to sell opiates inside of China; the British won and opium addictions soared. In 1874, heroin was first synthesized into a pure form, it was thought to be a safe and non-addictive substitute for morphine.

external image heroin.jpgOpiate Abuse
Nearly every opioid has an extremely high potential for recreational abuse and addiction. The most addictive opiate is heroin. Heroin was first synthesized in 1874 (see above), and was used for pain-relief, treatment of sleeping disorders, and a fever reducer. The only modern use of heroin for a medicinal purpose is for extreme fever reduction, and is only used for this in England where a prescription is granted as a last resort. Heroin is dangerous not only due to the euphoric high that it's users feel, but do to its ability to 're-wire' your brain into addiction. Due to this, addictions can take in excess of 5 years to break, and even then it is an everyday battle for the addict to stay clean. Sudden withdrawal can sometimes lead to death. Other opiates such as Morphine, Opium, Vicodin, and Noscapine are also highly addictive. The only reliable cure for such addictions so far is to prescribe Buprenorphine, which is an opiate that has been robbed of all its mexternal image afghanistan-opium-poppy.JPGedical value with the exception of the fulfillment it gives its users. When taking Buprenorphine, an addict can get his/her 'fix' without any other affects of opiates. Therefore, an addict can be weaned off of an opiate.

Cultivation and Production
Around the world, there are three major areas of opium growth: 'The Golden Triangle' in South East Asia, 'The Golden Crescent' in the Middle East, and South America. Of the three, the majority of Papaver somniferum grown for medical use is produced in 'The Golden Triangle' of South East Asia. The other two regions are primarily growers of poppies for illicit narcotics; although Afghanistan and many other countries in 'The Golden Crescent' are slowly beginning to convert to legitimate production of legal medication. The poppies in South America are almost entirely grown for the production of Black Tar heroin.

Websites:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/p/popwhi64.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_poppy

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