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":

Opium - Literary Cultural References
... There is a longstanding literary history by and about opium users ... 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 an addict, details the ... (1772–1834), whose "Kubla Khan" is also widely considered to be a poem of the opium experience ...
Agriculture In Laos - Opium
... economy or the importance of opium to the hill economy ... Opium, legal in Laos and once even accepted as a tax payment, is a lucrative cash crop for the Lao Sung including the Hmong who have resisted government ... Opium production provides the funds necessary to the household when there is a rice deficiency, common among swidden farmers ...
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 ... King interviewed members of a Chinese anti-opium league and came away in favour of suppressing the drug because “opium smoking was making headway, not only among white men and boys ...
Sea Of Poppies - Synopsis
... labour to the island of Mareech or Mauritius instead of the tradable opium ... his estates in order to pay for the debt he had incurred when trading opium with China at the height of the opium trade ... But now that the opium trade has come to a standstill, as a result of the resistance shown by the Chinese authorities, he is left with no money to clear his loan ...
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)

    It is not opium which makes me work but its absence, and in order for me to feel its absence it must from time to time be present.
    Antonin Artaud (1896–1948)

    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)