Opium and opiates
Therapeutic uses of opium have been known for centuries. Ancient Assyrian medical writings mentioned poppy juice. Ancient Greek physicians knew the medicinal effects of poppies as did Hippocrates, the “father of medicine” (460-377 B.C.), and Hua To, Chinese surgeon of the Three Kingdoms (a.d. 220-264). In ancient Rome, opium was used both as a religious drug and as a poison to commit suicides or murders. Hannibal allegedly committed suicide by taking opium and Nero’s mother poisoned a stepson with opium to assure Nero’s ascendance to power. In more recent times, opium use was widespread in the United States and Britain during the nineteenth century. Opium and its derivatives were used as a treatment for almost every ailment, as well as to release pain and stress, and by artists seeking recreation and enhanced creativity.
Reports on therapeutic use
Several powerful and important modern medicines are derived from opium or are synthetic or semi-synthetic narcotics with opiate-like effects. Many of these medicines are primarily used to control pain but are also used to control coughs and diarrhea, and as anesthesia.
Morphine and Heroin are routinely prescribed as a painkiller
Opium poppies and their derivatives are scheduled under the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961.
There is some confusion, however, because opium-producing poppies are widely grown around the world and the opium poppy seeds are omnipresent in cooking, breads, and deserts. The grey-blue poppy seeds sold in virtually every grocery store in the US contain low levels of opiates (not psychoactive at amounts used in cooking). Poppy pods are widely used in dry flower arrangements.
Opium for legal commercial pharmaceutical use is grown with special government licenses around the world. In Switzerland, the UK, Netherlands, Germany and Denmark controlled distribution of heroin is authorised by the authorities to treat long term users.
Opium Special Therapeutic Applications. Part 3 , by George B. WoodRepublish