NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Drawing of White Poppy (Papaver somniferum), after a hand-coloured lithograph in "Flora medica", 1829. The white poppy is the source of opium, obtained from the sap of the seed head. Opium is the source of many analgesics, the most important of which is morphine. In addition to its beneficial effects, however, opium has been used widely as a narcotic drug, forming dependency at an early stage. 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.
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