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Herbs for Health - California Poppy

It’s been a little while since we posted a blog – things have been a bit hectic for us busy bees! So, since it seemed appropriate for us, this week’s herb for health was chosen thanks to its calming properties – California Poppy, sometimes called ‘golden poppy’.

An annual flower, the California poppy is native to North America and is the state flower of California (there might have been a clue in the name!). Its beautifully colourful flowers brighten any garden and were first introduced to Europe as purely ornamental. However, as a member of the Papaveraceae family, this is a cousin to the better-known opium poppy and, though not as powerful, has some very similar effects. It was originally used by the Native Americans as a remedy for toothache and colicky pains, but in the last century its medicinal uses have been likened to a non-addictive alternative to the opium poppy. It can calm excitability, anxiety, restlessness, act as pain relief, aid insomnia and in some cases is used as a remedy for bed wetting and diseases of the bladder and liver. It has both sedative and anxiolytic properties, and recent research shows that when combined with magnesium and hawthorn it can treat a variety of anxiety disorders.

California poppy is most commonly taken internally, in the form of teas or tinctures. However, it can also be applied externally in lotions or liniments, to help ease tension headaches, sciatica, earache, back pain and arthritic pain. It is also antimicrobial and so can be applied to cuts and scrapes to ease pain and minimise risk of infection.

Though effects of long-term usage have yet to be determined, California poppy is safe to use for most people when taken orally for three months or less. As with many medicines, usage should be avoided during pregnancy or breast feeding. As one of the properties of California poppy is that of a sedative, it can cause the central nervous system to slow down. It should therefore not be mixed with anaesthesia or other medications used before or after surgery, or other sedative medications such as Benzodiazepines or CNS depressants.

*This article is intended for interest only – use of herbs given are traditional and do not reflect the herbs efficacy. It is not intended, nor should be taken as medical advice. If you have a medical condition please consult a qualified health professional prior to using any herbal preparation. Although the facts have been checked carefully, we cannot guarantee the reliability of information provided. Essential oils should not be used on children or vulnerable adults (elderly, breast feeding or ill) or during pregnancy. Some essential oils and herbs can be toxic, whether taken internally or used on the skin – your health care professional will advise.


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