Opium Poppies: Homegrown Pain Medication

Opium Poppies for Homegrown Pain MedicationThe source of one of nature’s best pain medications, opium poppies, 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 pain-relieving 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 pain relief solution for headaches, coughs, muscle pains, or diarrhea.

“With Opium for the Masses as the guide, Americans can learn how to supplement their own medicine chest with natural pain medicine without costly and difficult trips to doctors hamstrung by pernicious laws to prescribe proper pain relief.

“This new edition features material on legal issues and further recipes, including how to make Laudanum and how heroin is created in the depths of of the Afghani poppy fields.” – Feral House

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.

Opium for the Masses was such a national phenomenon when first released in the early ‘90s that Michael Pollan wrote a cover story for Harper’s magazine about the book, in which he he expressed his amazement that a common plant, P. somniferum, or the opium poppy, grows wild in most states, and could be made into a drinkable tea that acts in ways similar to codeine or Vicodin.” – Feral House

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.

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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 and grow 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 pain remedies. Meanwhile, I’m planning my poppy garden.

If, however, you’re in need of treatment, consider these California opiate treatment centers.

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

16 thoughts on “Opium Poppies: Homegrown Pain Medication

  • Another great post Derek. I’m prone to getting bad chest colds a few times of year and the only type of medicine that helps control my cough is strong pain meds. I hate taking tons of OTC stuff so I’m interested to see what else you write about on this subject.
    .-= Tyler Wainright´s last blog ..My WHCC metallic prints are perfect…almost =-.

  • So where did you get the seeds to plant your own?

    • bgoodwin

      I have been on prescribed pain meds for over 20 years and ave recently overheard a conversation involving laudanum. I would really like to know more about it as the DEA continues to over-regulate my oxy’s and others. I cannot continue to live with the pain and the DEA doesn’t seem to care about the suicides cauused by cutting us back, just the accidental overdoses from precsriptions or from black-market!

  • The guy who wrote opium for the masses went to jail for having dry poppie pods he bought from a store. I don’t think advertising that you grow them to make opium is very bright

  • very interesting, where do i get the poppy seeds from, or the heads of the poppies…

  • Forestdweller

    I would like to start out by saying that this article is exactly what I have been looking for. I am a “DOOMSDAY PREPPER”, and have been on pain meds for 8 years; due to aver critical car accident to where I was ejected from the car. I of course, worry about a economic collapse,and where would I go to get my medicines? I have several thosand seeds, a greenhouse, and can grow anything, and actually bring plants back from the dead! LOL. So any info on where I could get a few seeds would be very helpful! thanks for the article, and I wil be loking for any books (as mentioned), plus some.

    • I have had chronic pain for over 2 years. And during those 2 years have been going from doctor to doctor to find one that truly understands about pain and how it can rob you of your daily pleasures and life in general. Doctors are so scared of the FDA and loosing their licenses, some have turned a blind eye to patients who really are in pain and in need of medication to control it. All because of people who abuse it and use it just to get high. It ruins it for me who really needs it for function in my daily life. I’ve lost a marriage over it, I’ve lost jobs over it, and am still struggling with the pain. I am now on Tramadol, FYI don’t let ANY doctor tell you it is NOT an opioid. It is! End of story. I have a copy of Opium For The Masses and find the directions hard to follow. Hey, I’m a blonde what can I say. But there is a Bible scripture in the Catholic Bible, in the book of Sirach Chapter 38 verse 4 that says and I quote “The Lord created medicines from the earth, and a sensible person will not HESITATE to use them.” That’s all the comfort I need to know that they are here for our relief of pain and suffering. Kratom is also a natural remedy for moderate to severe pain and is legal in the US to purchase on line. $20.00 for 30 – 40 capsules. The Ming Da is the best type to use so they say and works like an opioid and is one. They also have a Kratom 14x that they say is as strong as Percocet! I’ve yet to try it. But I will. The FDA will soon try to out law that too according to many articles I’ve read about Kratom on line. So that tells me, they know it’s an opioid too. The best part is, your body does not get a tolerance to it, meaning that your dose NEVER has to be raised in order to get relief. I’m loosing my respect for doctors, they just don’t get it. And they treat everyone like a user. There are a few good doctors out there, but finding one is hard. Thanks for letting me vent my frustration at 4:31am.

  • inanswertoyourquestion

    you can get poppy seeds from many places. type in “papaver somniferum seeds” in a google search. XD

  • Similar to mushroom picking, I would advise extreme caution when dealing with opium poppies. I have no moral issues with the idea of using the plant (or cannabis use for that matter), but I do know of some teens who took it upon themselves to make tea from the milk of poppy seeds, and they became seriously ill – dangerous seizures etc. Your post provides excellent references, which I applaud. I just hope that people use caution, and treat this medication with the respect it deserves. I am a new reader, (came for the ‘be a better wife’ post), but I am pleased with your site and I will keep reading. Thanks.

  • Interesting article but I think I will stick with paracetamol, I know I can’t get locked up for having that 🙂

  • I have degenerative disc desease in my lumbar vertabraes, I was on Oxy for a little over 10 years, I got off them and now take methadone 10mg daily. They seem to work but I too am worried about a possible collapse. What do we do then. I’ve tried pigeonholing a few extra each month to save some up but never seem to get anywhere.I would like to try the poppyseed method, but I’m 61 yrs old. I don’t want to end up n a crowbar hotel somewhere for having them.

  • Lang A. Waddell

    I fell 14 feet and broke my neck back and hip. I have had 6 surgical procedures to get me out of pain. First they put in a cage around my spine called a spinal fixator, then they had to open my back up again to fix their screw up, but this time they destroyed the nerve cluster that makes my left leg work. Then my back absesed, so another surgery. Months later, I was still in God awful pain, so they recommend a spinal stimulator, witch involves two more spinal surgeries. So I do that and am still in horrible pain, so they put me on methodone and percecets for the last 10 years, raising my dose every few years. Now they have cut off ALL MY PAIN MED COMPLETELY! For the last ten years I have been dragging my leg behind me, but even though I was in pain still with pain meds, I still walked, dragging my leg behind me. Bowing in so very much pain that I can no longer get myself out of bed, cant get in a bathtub, and have to be put in a wheelchair now, because the pain is too much now to walk with my one leg. I see poppies growing next door, so ill ask the neighbors if I can have them. And ill also order the books. DONT CARE ABOUT THE LAW any more. They have caused me to help myself or kill myself. I prefer to help myself! Thank you for everybodies input and information!

  • I am a chronic pain patient as many others have posted here. I’m always sorry to hear of anyone in this condition. It robs you of your quality of life. The DEA is cracking down so hard (they say they aren’t and it’s not their fault) that even pharmacists treat you like a criminal and make decisions on who should and should not get their scripts filled. Also like many others, I worry about the SHTF situation and what I’d do if I suddenly couldn’t get my required medications.

    So, if you worry about it, you can grow your own as Papa says. First off, it is NOT illegal to grow poppies. Poppies are beautiful flowers that are very commonly grown all over America. You will not get in trouble for growing it like if you had a stand of marijuana plants in your front yard. Second, the only way to get into trouble is if the police see that you’ve sliced the pods with a blade and the opium is running down the sides of the pods. This means you’ve intentionally cut them to get the opium. You wouldn’t want the police to witness that or you out there in the garden scraping it off the pods. Finally, it is NOT illegal to buy papaver somniferum seeds (opium poppy seeds). You can discretely order them online. I tried to grow some, but I had no luck because I waited until it was too hot to start them outside. The seeds are very tiny and the baby plants are very fragile. I haven’t tried again but will next spring. I have a nice plot out behind my home that has an embankment that is a nightmare to mow. Being in pain 24/7 I’m not too keen on breaking out a push mower. So I may sow a large area with poppies and with wildflowers to have a beautiful flower garden that I don’t have to mow. It’ll also produce copious amounts of God’s beautiful pain medicine. Everything we need for our health, God has provided in nature. The government and DEA are against it because the big pharma companies cannot patent (without altering the molecular structure which is what oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, etc., is). it and government can’t tax it. That’s all there is to it. Do you really think they care if you stop breathing? No, they don’t. They (the elite) want to see over 90% of the population of the world gone anyway. Don’t believe that? Then you need to go study it and you’ll see many people, mostly billionaires and the super-rich families and monarchies and their descendants talking about it openly – Bill Gates, Ted Turner, etc. Ok, I’ve gone off topic and digressed, but you can grow your own, just be careful milking the poppies because that’s where you’ll get caught. The opium stays fresh for years. It does not lose potency and is easily kept. There are some informational websites out there about it. So here’s to you and you keeping your pain in control and living a great life! – as much as you can in chronic pain. Nothing wrong with controlling your pain if that’s what you’re doing. I don’t seek to get high, I just seek to work, live, take care of my wife and little son, and enjoy the world and life. That’s all. So spread those seeds boys and girls and take advantage of what God has put here for our use. HE put it there for us, but He didn’t mean for us to abuse it.

    I wish you all good health, no pain, and a big crop of relief!!

    P.S. – it’s great to treat other medical problems as stated in the article and other posts. It doesn’t hurt your liver, kidneys, or heart like Tylenol and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs do (Aleve, ibuprofen).

    Lil Joe
    B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D. (pending) Engineering

  • Kevin Foster

    Bless you little joe

  • I have a fusses back and I lost my job my husband is disable what are the best seed and to find out more on how to perpair it I picked my Oxus up the other day the first time in 12 years with out insurance. We in bad shape now what do I do we have went from 80000 a year to 10000 I am scared we just going to have to leave in bed can not get help


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