Benefits of California Poppy
California poppy is claimed to be useful for treating several conditions, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and nerve pain. This herbal supplement is thought to contain certain compounds known as alkaloids, which may act somewhat like a group of anxiety and insomnia medications. The benefits of California poppy may also apply to children (such as to help with bedwetting); however, it is not known if using this supplement medicinally is safe for children.
California poppy is a flowering plant. In addition to being the state flower of California, it is also used as an herbal supplement. The supplement is claimed to be beneficial for treating the following conditions:
- Aches and pains
- Bedwetting (in children)
- Nerve pain
- Bladder and liver problems.
California poppy is also sometimes smoked for its mild sedative and euphoric effects.
Some of these benefits are more valid than others (see Does California Poppy Work? for more information). As with many supplements, claims for the benefits of California poppy are sometimes exaggerated, and these claims must be evaluated critically. Most importantly, it is essential to remember that natural products should not be used carelessly, as many natural products can be quite toxic (for instance, many poisons are natural products).
It is not exactly clear how California poppy works. Studies indicate that two particular compounds in California poppy (californine and protopine) may be responsible for the medicinal properties of the supplement. These compounds are known as alkaloids, and they may act somewhat like benzodiazepines, a group of prescription anxiety and insomnia medications, such as Valium® (diazepam). These compounds may help to relieve muscle spasms, anxiety, and insomnia. However, unlike benzodiazepines, they do not seem to have any anti-seizure activity.
Importantly, California poppy does not seem to be addicting or habit forming, unlike opium poppy (a related but significantly different plant).