Opiates are narcotic alkaloids of opium extracted from Papaver somniferum, one of varieties of poppy. Poppy, containing opium, was originally grown in the Middle East, in the Mediterranean countries, but now it is grown everywhere in Asia and Middle East.
Despite the experience of Dorothy from The Wizard of the Emerald City, simple walking in the poppy field does not cause a sleepiness and euphoria. Actually in an order to experience these effects, the special manipulations are needed. When the petals of poppy colours fall off, there is a round seed-case, as big as an egg. The experience the effect you would have to take the substance perorally, or by smoking. The use of preparations from a raw opium became a history.
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There is evidence that opium was grown and used already six thousand years ago by Shumers and Assyrians. Ancient Egyptians discovered medical properties of opiate 3.5 thousand years ago, which is witnessed in the “Curative papyrus from Thebes.” Opium was also used in numerous medical aims by Greeks and Romans.
Galen marked the next use of opium: (opium)… helps at poisonous bites, chronic headache, dizziness, deafness, epilepsy, apoplexy, dullness of look, loss of voice, asthma, cough of all kinds, bleeding, breathing constrained, colics, overflow of bile, heavy depression, urodynia, fevers, hydropsy, leprosy, illnesses that women are exposed to, melancholy and all pestilences.
Although this quotation can be examined as an example of ancient medicine, anaesthetic properties of opium are really used for the treatment of many diseases.
Opiates repress cough and assist normalization of the bowel movement, in addition to the analgesic effect, and is actively used in modern medicine.
The use of opium in medicine and for entertaining aims was widespread among Moslems in the Middle East. Maybe, it happened because prohibition by Koran on the consumption of alcohol and some other drugs that did not included opiates. Presently among Moslems the use of opiates is a less crime, than drinking alcohol. The Arabic merchants brought opium to India and China in the IX century, and practice of smoking opium originated in China. Addiction opium in China was defined as a problem together with the first edict against opium that was published in 1729. By that time there were already so many opium drug addicts in China, that a requirement in drugs remained very high. Despite prohibition on the import of opium to China, Englishmen continued to trade Indian opium for Chinese tea, and it served reason of opium wars between China and Great Britain in the middle the XIX century.
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