Botanical Name: Eschscholzia californica
Botanical Family: Papaveracae (also includes the opium poppy)
Plant part used for medicinal purposes: aerial parts
Native Americans and native Hispanics used the leaves and flowers for sedative and analgesic activity, to promote sleep, and to relieve toothache especially in children. California Poppy was of interest to medical practitioners in the US in the late 19th century, and an 1893 medical textbook reported “the effects produced by Eschscholzia californica upon patients is the same as that of morphine, without the inconvenience of the latter drug“.
Important chemical components: alkaloids such as (S)-reticuline, protopine, and allocyrptine
Contraindications or warnings: May have additive effects with other sedatives. Do not take during pregnancy.
Research on California Poppy demonstrates benefits for anxiety, pain, and insomnia. These effects are thought to be due to transformation of S-reticuline into natural opioids such as morphine, which generates direct effects on opioid receptors and indirect effects on GABA receptors.
California Poppy studies show:
- Lower doses showed anti-anxiety effects, higher doses showed mild sedation in animal studies
- Mild pain relieving effects in mice
Rolland A et al. Behavioural effects of the American traditional plant Eschscholzia californica: sedative and anxiolytic properties. Planta Med. 1991 Jun;57(3):212-6
Rolland A et al. Neurophysiological effects of an extract of Eschscholzia californica Cham. (Papaveraceae). Phytother Res. 2001 Aug;15(5):377-81.
Fedurco M et al . Modulatory Effects of Eschscholzia californica Alkaloids on Recombinant GABAA Receptors. Biochem Res Int. 2015;2015:617620