Did you know:
- Papaver somnifera – the Opium Poppy – has been cultivated in Eurasia for over 6,000 years.
- There is some evidence that poppies were important in pre-historic religious rites.
- The word opium comes from the Greek word opos, meaning juice. It was associated with the love goddess Aphrodite, and the god of sleep, Hypnos.
- The flowers can be red, white, orange, yellow, and deep pink.
- Not all poppies contain the narcotic opium, but they are all poisonous. For this reason they were traditionally mixed with hemlock for a quick and painless death.
- For many years opium was used as a murder weapon by unscrupulous members of the medical profession.
- Poisoning occurs from eating unripe poppy seed capsules, or from overdose after it has been processed into opium, codeine, heroine, and morphine.
- Poppies were grown for a wide range of medicinal benefits: sedatives, pain reduction, and mood elevation. The Greeks and Romans used them to treat diarrhea, dysentery, asthma, stomach complaints, and poor eyesight.
- Overdose triggers erratic behavior, loss of appetite, stupor, coma, and may result in death from respiratory failure.
- Poppies are also toxic for dogs and cats.
- John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Fields inspired the adoption of the poppy as the national Remembrance Day symbol to honor British war veterans.
Poison Diaries. “Opium Poppy: A poisonous plant,” at http://thepoisondiaries.tumblr.com/post/18186895021/opium-poppy-a-poisonous-plant
Poison Plant Patch. “Poppy,” at http://www.novascotia.ca/museum/poison/?section=species&id=102
Right Diagnosis From Healthgrades. “Common Poppy Poisoning,” at http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/c/common_poppy_poisoning/intro.htm
Wikipedia. “Opium” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium
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