|Authors: ||D. Mani , S.S. Dhawan|
|Keywords: ||purified opium, latex, straw, doshas, alkaloids, purification|
Poppy (Papaver somniferum L.) is a member of the Papaveraceae family.
It is indigenous of south east of Europe and Asia.
It is cultivated all over the world and there is not any wild type of this species.
It is widely grown as an ornamental flower throughout Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.
Until now more than 40 different alkaloids have been known in this species which the most important ones are morphine, codeine, thebaine, and noscapine.
Alkaloids are affected with genetical characteristics and environmental conditions.
Poppy seeds are an important food item and the source of poppy seed oil, healthy edible oil that has many uses.
The most important application of papaver alkaloids is due to their analgesic properties.
Use of opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L.) as a medicinal plant has been described in the ancient literature of Indian system of medicine (Ayurveda). Primarily, purified opium (dried latex from the plant capsule) is described to be the major therapeutic (for treating dysentary, diarrohea, spasms, pain etc.) component.
Purification of opium has been described vividly in Ayurveda.
Purified opium has been described to balance Vata and Kapha, Doshas and enhance Pitta Dosha. Although it is well known that opium contains analgesic (morphine, codeine, thebaine) as well as other therapeutic (sanguinarine, papaverine etc.) alkaloids, the exact molecular basis for all its properties described in Ayurveda is yet to be elucidated.
This is one of the required needs for Ayurveda-guided future pharmacological research on opium.
Nevertheless, the present day pharmaceutical market already sells certain opium-derived Ayurvedic formulations (like Karpur Ras). However it is pertinent to note that cultivation of gum varieties of opium poppy and collection of latex is not prevalent in most of the countries except India.
Since other countries practice CPS (concentrate of poppy straw) cultivation, it is also important to evaluate the poppy straw for Ayurveda-based uses, which will help to popularize Ayurveda globally.
This paper aims to discuss the details of uses of opium described in Ayurveda and provides the future perspective for scientifically validating the same.
Download Adobe Acrobat Reader (free software to read PDF files)