Opium crystals. Polarised light micrograph (PLM) of crystals of the analgesic (painkiller) drug opium. This drug is obtained from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), and contains natural analgesic drugs such as morphine, which is used as a painkiller for severe pain. In addition to its beneficial uses, however, opium has been used widely as a narcotic drug, forming dependency at an early stage. The highly addictive narcotic heroin is also made from opium. Historically, opium has been smoked in the Far East for centuries, China being a major source of the spread of opium abuse in the early and mid 19th century. Magnification unknown.
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