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.

31 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!

    • poppyfriend

      San Francisco herb Buy between three and five pounds at a time and tell them to ship it by United States Postal Service if you’re in the USA.

      For instructions on how to grow poppies, go to Wiki pedia to look up poppy seed growing information.

      Here’s my own rendition of how I understood the instructions to read, and putting my own ye growth knowledge :

      First, if you you want them to grow larger faster, then place these Inside /outside lights that are the energy saving “New Spiral Style” lights above them; you can place them up to 10 12 feet above or as low as 6 feet 5 feet above, your choice. Make sure they are either 11 watts, 13 watts or 23 watts. But outside in 6 to 12 hours of natural light, then in the evening hours another morning hours, you can leave your energy lights on all day and it will enhance the growth pattern even in cloudy circumstances. So once you’ve made sure your lighting is correct which is pretty simple have both lighting systems natural light as well as the artificial light then you’ll have a better growth patterns. Next you need to prepare the seeds before you plant them, it seems to work better. So what I do is soak the seed in warm water and I even replace the water after it’s gone cold, & I let it sit overnight maybe 12 to 15 hours. Then after you have soaked the seed in water overnight, make sure it has its white root tip or the root is showing, then place the seed pointed downward toward the bottom one quarter of an inch below the soil surface. Keep it watered even as it grows, water a little bit or a small amount every day. Then when the plant gets older, maybe one foot tall, water every other day and do one week deep soaking every 2 weeks. Check to see if it gets dry it gets dry put a little bit of water and also periodically, spray with a green soap combination or a dish soap mixed with water: Recipe for Spray: put 2 tablespoons in a spray bottle of about 32 ounces, a little bit over the entire plant. after you have done I summon the first spraying. And repeat monthly after that first spraying . And repeat monthly after that first spray period.

      You can either plant them in the Fall or in the Spring.. Expect good growth with the extra lighting, and a growth of maybe 2.0 feet to about 2.5 feet.

      Making the Poppy Tea:

      It’ll take awhile for you to get used to making poppy seed tea. Just remember that you can use the same seeds for about 3 to 4 days while adding sugar in between adding more poppy seeds… and possibly daily if needed. just boil some water I would start with 8 cups and add 2 tablespoons of poppy seed tea- basically you can use to seeds to make this tea. If you can handle that after a few days and you don’t feel too sleepy or effect, then add maybe a teaspoon each day and increase or decrease from there. It is totally your choice. As always check with your doctor before using any type of medication or before ingesting anything in your body. the sugar is used as a somewhat preservative as well as extracting the medication off of the outside of the seeds easier. When you see floating brown or white or off-white things even a slight tan, that’s the medication. Also it will leave a residue on the inside of your cup as well as in the pan that you make it in. this might be a brownish or tannish color. You can leave that there is not going to hurt anything, even when you rinse out the pan in between your seed change day. 5 world seeds for 4 days maximum for the new seeds, then I throw them in a separate pan with water and boil them out and mix that with the new Seed boil. I keep the extra pan going always. Enjoy! You can also rub it on your body externally for extra pain killing power. Even put it in a spray bottle and spritz it on your body wherever the pain is. In minutes you are out of pain!

      • joe o

        The above comment is total BS! Dont listen to a word he says. The seeds have nil opium in them! Read opium for the masses by hogshire for the truth. Get out of here you lying DEA troll!

  • 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.

      • Kratom may have opioid-like properties but is not an opioid. Whoever told you Kratom 14x is as strong as percocet has never taken percocet. It is nowhere near the same and does not control pain nearly as well.

      • Tramadol is not an opiate. You don’t have to take my word for that (no reason why you should, you don’t know me). But here is a link to a search I did and it will give you lots of reading about it if you are interested.

        And while tramadol may work wonders for you, and if it does I am glad, it was useless to me. One of my mother’s doctors told her that it was effective with around 70% of people but for the rest it was useless (which it was for me).

  • 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

    • Stuey wakefield

      Your words are so darn true! Why should we constantly be forced to help bulk up the obscenely huge profits of a massive corporation when we have the resources growing in our gardens??? Sigh, I am employed in law and order and even my superior has expressed interest in home made laudanum for his back! The sooner the human species evolves to one who looks only to advance in technology, medical advancements etc the better!!

  • 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

  • tokn cat

    Unfortunately, until the US government removes its ban on these God made medicinal plants or is overthrown by people that have had enough, the only consisant way to get pain relief is through a doctor.

    The seeds are easily obtainable; legal to buy, sell and own – I literally just bought a two pound bag on eBay. Here’s the problem. Growing them at all is illegal. Having pods or stalks fresh or dried is illegal. Be careful o know the law before you go planting seeds. Keep in mind that your web and email history is saved and easy to obtain for law enforcement, so if you’re caught growing you may claim naïveté but if they find a search on your computer about “opium harvesting” or really anything drug related, your case just got incredibly difficult and/or expensive.

    The active agents in poppies are found in the seed pod membrane or skin. When you scratch the skin of a poppy pod, a resin forms in several hours that is a potent agent. When you grow poppies to harvest seeds, the pods are left to complete their cycle and the aging pod membrane leaks its resin on to the seeds its carrying, basically soaking the seeds in this active agent. Since its legal to buy, sell and own seeds, one could make a juice by soaking and shaking the seeds in some form of citric acid (which helps draw the agent from the seeds) – lemon juice is a good example. This is effective but be careful and do your research. Each crop yield has veritable amounts of the active agents which can be LETHAL if consumed in high enough quantities.

    One day, hopefully, we will have the freedom to grow the plants God gave us for our benefit….but in the mean time, don’t risk breaking the law on a technicality…legal relief can be found with diligence. Enjoy and be safe.

  • Arthur Dent

    You’re showing a picture of Papaver rhoeas, which doesn’t actually produce opium alkaloids. Most of the poppies people grow in their gardens are P. rhoeas, and some commercial poppy seeds are from this plant as well.

  • kayla larson

    Im curious, I’d like to get this book you speak of as well, and im very new to this. But the opium plant that id like to make these home remedies with where can I actually get it? And this is the plant that esentially makes heroin if you really wanted too? Im just wondering because people have been able to mess with every part of nature that they havent made some sort of hormone or something rather to the opium plants I see online for sale that can no longer actually produce a pure opium. Like they are trying to sell me a fake opium plant or something. If you know a good site or something please privately Email me if you could. I just dont trust typical online sellers I could be buying anything..

  • Lady Butterfly

    I would like to say that for over a year now, I have used both seeds and pods – pods are my favorite. I de seed them but save the seeds, then crush the pods with my hands and put them in the blender then in a coffee bean grinder. Place a coffee filter in your coffee pot ( I keep a separate coffee pot for this specifically ) and add the ground pods. Fill your coffee pot with 8 cups, and let your coffee maker run this through, then pour the tea through the coffee pot twice more making total of thee times and you have PERFECT pain relieving tea that will keep you from pain, give you the most wonderful night’s sleep, and you will wake up ready to go, all rested and pain free all day. I order my pods from a special place, and when I run out, I make tea with the seeds. I have chronic pain, a degenerative spinal disease, and nothing has helped me as much as this has. Pod and seed lovers unite as one in Nature !!! Nature always knows best !!!!!! Anyone have a good recipe for Laudenum that they can share up here?

    • Would you emailme where you order themfrom?, thank you, i was in a car accident 3 yrs ago and suffer chronic pain from it.

  • Stuey wakefield

    Just bought the book recently, have the back and spine from hell haha! And although my doctor here is quite good, I would rather have something that is home grown, prepared and available, also organic, so having inherited my amazing Dad’s green fingers (RIP) I am growing my own poppies to prepare and make laudanum 🙂 I shall keep you updated!

  • Iain Gair

    Where can I buy opium poppy seeds?

  • Molly

    So, are “Opium Poppies” legal to grow and use in the US? If so, where do I get them? I am a special needs mom of two, I have suffered from intense chronic pain for many years. I’ve always used medications as directed, always held myself accountable, and got God’s sake, I’ve never even been drunk, and I’m pushing 50 with a short stick. All I want is to be able to push through my extreme pain, inflammation and debilitating muscle spasms and contractions to the point that I can remain useful to my family. Since losing my husband t to Leukemia, I’m on my own here. Because of purple who abuse drugs and because the government is making it nearly impossible to get the medications I need, I’m trying to inform myself of effective alternatives. Normally, I take Hydrocodone and Soma. Thank you.

  • Chrissy Castro

    You can get good seeds from ebay and you just rototill a good sized rectangle in the yard, full sun area! Rototilling is a good idea if not in a flowerbed you added soil to! It will aerate the soil and break it up esp. if you live in a state like I do (Michigan) with mostly clay soil! There are people who will tell you this is bad and blah blah but my grandfather always rotoed his gardens and the man could grow huge veggies, fruit and flowers, that tasted great and were envyed by most! Also, poppies need a cold period before they can sprout and germination to begin! I have already set my seeds and this is just march but with the weather being warm already, they will be fine here in michigan! To be honest they will germinate even if it is a mild cold like in the 50s or 60s but you will see at harvest that your pods dont have very much laytex in them compared to if they germinate in a temp of say 30 or 40 degree weather! Also, If your a person who tends to your flowers daily, watering, fertilizing with the right nutrients at the right time, I wouldnt thin and here is why! Your growing a small amount and even if you have 200 pods, your still looking at not as much laytex as you think! That is why I let them grow and I dont thin and they still find the sun you will see by the weird way they grow to find the sun, and they will! They really arent that hard to grow just make sure you plant in full sun and remember when spreading the seeds that bugs and animals love these seeds so when someone says plant sparingly, dont! I recomened spreading as many as possible. Remember that only the papaver somniferum make opim laytex! I would recommend reading up on cutting the pods because that is the hardest part. To light a cut you get no laytex and bruise the pod, cutting to hard spills the laytex in the pod case and wastes it. You dont want to waste it so that to me is something you get better at with experience and actually doing it! Feel free to email me anyone if you need more info on growing be happy to help! Also once you obtain seeds from someone you will not have to again because you will have your own! Good luck

  • StephanieCatherine, Harrison



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