Opium (poppy tears, lachryma papaveris) is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). Opium contains approximately 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine. The traditional method of obtaining the latex is to scratch ("score") the immature seed pods (fruits) by hand; the latex leaks out and dries to a sticky yellowish residue that is later scraped off. The modern method is to harvest and process mature plants by machine. "Meconium" historically referred to related, weaker preparations made from other parts of the poppy or different species of poppies.

The production of opium itself has not changed since ancient times. Through selective breeding of the Papaver somniferum plant, the content of the phenanthrene alkaloids morphine, codeine, and to a lesser extent thebaine, has been greatly increased. In modern times, much of the thebaine, which often serves as the raw material for the synthesis for hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and other semi-synthetic opiates, originates from extracting Papaver orientale or Papaver bracteatum.

Opium for illegal use is often converted into heroin, which is less bulky, making it easier to smuggle, and which multiplies its potency to approximately twice that of morphine. Heroin can be taken by intravenous injection, intranasally, or smoked (vaporized) and inhaled.

Read more about OpiumHistory, Chemical and Physiological Properties, Slang Terms, Literary Cultural References

Other articles related to "opium":

Cannabis In Canada - History of Drug Prohibition in Canada - Early Drug Prohibition
... Drug prohibition in Canada began with the Opium Act of 1908, which was introduced based on a report by then-Deputy Minister of Labour, Mackenzie King ... Some of the claims came from opium manufacturers seeking compensation for damage done to their production facilities by the mob that attacked Chinatown and Japantown ... in Vancouver, King interviewed members of a Chinese anti-opium league and came away in favour of suppressing the drug because “opium smoking was making headway ...
Opium - Literary Cultural References
... There is a longstanding literary history by and about opium users ... Thomas de Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1822), one of the first and most famous literary accounts of opium addiction written from the point of view of ... is also widely considered to be a poem of the opium experience ...
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Sea Of Poppies - Synopsis
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Legal Opium Production In India
... Legal cultivation of opium for medicinal purposes is carried out in India, only in selected areas, under strict licensing conditions ... The licence among other conditions, specifies the maximum area in which the opium crop can be sown ... Some place where opium is grown are Chittourgarh in Rajasthan Mandsour, Ratlam, Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh and Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh ...

Famous quotes containing the word opium:

    What opium is instilled into all disaster? It shows formidable as we approach it, but there is at last no rough rasping friction, but the most slippery sliding surfaces. We fall soft on a thought.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

    “A man,” said Oliver Cromwell, “never rises so high as when he knows not whither he is going.” Dreams and drunkenness, the use of opium and alcohol are the semblance and counterfeit of this oracular genius, and hence their dangerous attraction for men. For the like reason they ask the aid of wild passions, as in gaming and war, to ape in some manner these flames and generosities of the heart.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

    Everything one does in life, even love, occurs in an express train racing toward death. To smoke opium is to get out of the train while it is still moving. It is to concern oneself with something other than life or death.
    Jean Cocteau (1889–1963)