My Favorite Poppy

California poppy

By Cat Gina Cole

The Spanish name given this flower is Dornidera. It is known as the drowsy one and is the California state flower. Like any true Californian, this flower worships the sun and closes up tightly at night.

The California Poppy has been recognized for its effects on mental, emotional, spiritual levels for enhancing vitality and warmth surrounding the heart. It is also known to provide self-acceptance and self-awareness for those who are often attracted to the glitz and glamor of others.

To find spirituality within one’s heart or to encourage self-responsibility and quiet inner development use as a flower essence. This Poppy has calming effects with no opioids, it is completely non-narcotic or habit-forming, it inhibits the loss of dopamine that stabilizes mental ability. The parts used are the root, seeds, and the leaves. Harvest is best at full flower maturity.

Following are descriptions of how and why this herb works.

CALIFORNIA POPPY ACTIONS: anodyne, calmative, possibly mydriatic ( dilates the pupils), nervine, analgesic, nerve tonic, adaptogen ( increases bodies resistance to stress) antidepressant, sedative, antispasmodic, antimicrobial.

CALIFONIA POPPY CONTAINS; chelirubine, sanguinarine, macropine, flavenglycerides, cryptopine, some sedative alkaloids highest in the root (but no real opium)

CALIFONIA POPPY USES; sedative, mental stability, pain relief, dry up lactation, toothaches, insomnia, hair tonic, nerve tonic, poultice for sores, headache, ease anxiety, remedy for ADHD, stomach aches, kill head lice, treatment for S.A.D.

I make a simple tincture of California Poppy by filling a jar of herb I buy from an apothecary with 80 proof vodka. I seal the jar tight keep it in a cool dark place and turn over and shake it once a week for four weeks. I use this tincture to keep me calm before public speaking or any other anxious times I may have. I do have ADD and it really does work well to help calm and focus the mind. Research backs this up and shows good results when given to treat ADHD as it improves intellectual capacity, memory, concentration and soothes the hyperactivity of the system. I have even made the tincture in glycerin for kids that have had good results from it.

The leaves were chewed by the indigenous people of California for toothaches The Pomo Indians rubbed the mashed seed pods or a decoction of the herb on a woman’s breasts to dry up lactation. The plant was given to babies as a sedative and placed under the bed for better sleep. Other tribes decocted the plant in its powder form and rubbed it into the hair to kill head lice. The root juice was taken for stomach aches and to fight TB and used as a wash for weeping sores.

Today some Californians of Spanish heritage, cook the plant in olive oil to make a hair tonic that makes the hair grow thick and shiny. You can even diffuse it in a room to promote sleep. The herb relieves nerve and muscular pain slows the pulse and eases a spasmodic cough. Research shows the California Poppy nourishes the nervous system and pain pathways. Using the root is not recommended for kids under 12.

To make a tea, use 2-3 tbsp. of herb per cup of water. Dosing for a tincture is 15- 25 drops daily for mild pain or ADD symptoms and up to 30 -40 for more severe pain, one herbalist stated they personally use ½ dropper of tincture straight, no water, that is also about what I use. This is a rather mild herb so the tincture is typically made from the whole plant, stems, seeds, leaves, roots, and flowers. Slightly crush root and seeds if you are using them then strain through a coffee filter or fine cheesecloth.

CALIFONIA POPPY MAGIC; Gender- feminine, Planet- Moon, Element Water, Deities- Hypnos and Demeter

Powers- fertility, love, sleep, money, luck, invisibility

They are also eaten or carried to promote fertility, attract luck and money. At one time poppy seed heads were gilded and worn as talismans to draw wealth. The seeds are also added to food to induce love or are used in love sachets.

If you wish to know the answer to a question, write it in blue on a piece of white paper. Place this inside a poppy seed pod and put it beneath your pillow. The answer will appear in a dream. I found one reference that said if you soak poppy seeds in wine each day for five days while fasting you will be able to make yourself invisible at will. Magic is such a fascinating thing.

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