The source of one of nature’s best pain medications, the opium poppy, thrives in your garden, and can be prepared in the kitchen with only some basic instructions for an all natural home remedy.
I’m a DIY kind of guy, so I’m always on the lookout for ways to make the things I need, and since receiving a review copy of Opium for the Masses, from Feral House, I’ve been patiently awaiting spring, so I can plant a crop of poppies to fill my medicine cabinet.
This classic book, subtitled Harvesting Nature’s Best Pain Medication, takes all of the guesswork out of it. Homegrown opium poppies, or even dried poppy heads from the craft store, can be made into poppy tea or laudanum, and could be your DIY solution for headaches, coughs, muscle pains, or diarrhea.
After sustaining serious injuries and having to do without pain medication until I could see a doctor and get a prescription, I had to suffer through an agonizing night with only over the counter medication to cope with the pain. A friend was able to bring me some pain meds left over from an old injury of his, but without that, I would have had to tough it out.
It made me realize just how inaccessible effective pain treatments are without the signature of a doctor and a trip to the pharmacy. I found a new respect for people who suffered great injuries before potent pain medicines were widely available, a fairly recent development in human history. What did they do for the pain?
The answer is that they got what they needed from nature, and either gathered it or grew it. The opium poppy is an extremely useful medicinal plant with thousands of years of history of cultivation, but it’s also one of the most demonized, as the source of the refined product heroin. While morphine’s effectiveness for pain relief is well known, so is the story of the heroin junkie who’ll do anything for another shot of smack.
The political fallout from all of our wars on drugs and alcohol, and the subsequent financial elope-ments between Big Pharma and our government, have convinced people that opium poppies must be for dope fiends (but we sure do think they look pretty while admiring them in someone else’s garden). The truth about poppies is rather different.
Opium for the Masses gives an overview of the world history of opium and then the US war on drugs (which began by outlawing opium as America’s first ‘illicit substance’ in 1914, under the Harrison Act), but most of the book is filled with practical how-to information, and very detailed at that. One section I found fascinating was the relationship between opiates, endorphins, and the brain, and how perfectly they fit together.
The practical sections cover topics such as how to cultivate opium poppies at home, how to make poppy tea and laudanum, and how to make morphine from opium, and heroin from the morphine (a bit involved, and not for me, but an interesting process). I found the book to be comprehensive, informative, and entertaining.
I think this book belongs on the shelves of every modern homesteader, DIY family, and self-sufficiency freak as a valuable resource to learn how to grow and prepare these traditional remedies. Meanwhile, I’m planning my poppy garden.
If, however, you’re in need of treatment, consider these California opiate treatment centers.