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Ahiphena / Opium / Papaver Somniferum

Ahiphena / Opium / Papaver Somniferum Medical Properties, Uses, Benefits, Dosage and Side effects

Ahiphena /Opium seeds or poppy seeds have two useful parts- one is opium (fruit latex exudate) which is used as a narcotic for moderate to severe pain, but its misuse causes addiction and the other is poppy seeds which are used to prepare poppy seed oil that have numerous benefits. Ahiphena / Opium oil and seeds both have commercial properties. Various incisions are made on fruit to collect the latex.

Latin name: Papaver somniferum

Family: Papaveraceae

Opium /Ahiphena Names in different languages

  1. English Name: Khas Khas seeds, Opium poppy seeds, Poppy capsule, Peon poppy, Poppy heads, White poppy seed
  2. Hindi Name: Khas khas, Postha, Afeem, Kash, Dukpunj, Poste ke beej, Posta dana
  3. Bengali Name: Postodheri
  4. Kannada Name: Gasagase
  5. Telugu Name: Nalla mandu
  6. Gujarati Name: Khaskhas na dosa, Posta, Apphou, Khuskhus, Aphina
  7. Tamil Name: Pothakkai, Gashagasha, Postakatol, Kasokasa, Abhini, Khasa, Gashgashatol
  8. Urdi Name: Khaskhashufaid

—-Opium Shloka——

According to this shloka, the synonyms of ahiphena are tilabheda, khastila, and khakhas. Its fruit bark is cold, light, bitter, and astringent taste, vitiated vata dosha, reduces Kapha and treats cough, dries bodily tissues, dry in nature, increases intoxication, improves voice, tempting and long consumption leads to impotency.

(Reference- Bhavaprakash Nighantu Page no. 140 and Shloka no. 235-237)

Opium Synonyms in the Sanskrit language:

Aphooka, Apooka, Aphenaka, Tila bheda, Khaskhasa tila, Khasa tila, tila bheda, Nagaphena, Phaniphena, and Ahiphenak

Categorization according to classical books:

By Dhanwanti Nighantu Rasa Tarangini, Raja nighantu, Bhava Prakasha, it is categorized as Upa Visha drvaya (subtoxic group).

  1. Jarana (White-colored variety)- Acts as a digestive agent
  2. Marana (Black-colored variety)- Can cause death
  3. Dharna (Yellow-colored variety)- Acts as a health tonic
  4. Sarana (different colored variety)- Eliminates metabolic residues from the body
Main Chemical Constituents of Opium /Ahiphena

Opium contains a total of 25 alkaloids like codeine, papaverine, narcotine, apomorphine, morphine, meconic acid, thebaine, etc.

Phenanthrene: Baine, Morphine, codeine

Isoquinolines: Narcotine (6%), and Papararines (1%)

Morphological characteristics:

Ahiphena / Opium is an annual herb that grows up to the height of 100 cm. This plant is grayish-green in color which stems and leaves are covered with small and soft hairs. Its leaves are lobed and clasp at the stem base. Flowers have 4 white, mauve, and red petals which is 120 mm in diameter. Its fruits are rounded shaped and when the whole herb is wounded then the plant emits white latex. Its species, as well as subspecies, are different from each other in many ways like shape, color, flower, no. of petals, fruits, seeds, and its production, etc. It is native to the eastern Mediterranean and also cultivated in China, Asia, Europe, and the United Kingdom.

Medicinal properties of Opium:

  1. Rasa (Taste)- Tikta (Bitter) and Kashaya (Astringent)
  2. Guna (Quality)- Rooksha (dry), Laghu (Light), Vyavayi (Spreads to all parts of the body), and Sookshma (minuteness)
  3. Veerya (Potency)- Ushna (Hot)
  4. Vipaka (Undergoes pungent taste after digestion)- Katu
  5. Karma (Effect on tridosha)- Latex: Balances Kapha dosha but increases Vata and Pitta dosha, Poppy seeds increase Kapha dosha but decrease Vata dosha.

Medicinal uses of Opium /Ahiphena :


As per Ayurveda, it increases Vata, as well as pitta dosha, Works as a shodhana dravya- it is used for body cleansing It also acts as grahi, i.e. used in IBS, diarrhea, bowel binding, etc

  1. Useful in atisara (diarrhea)
  2. Helps to balance Kapha dosha
  3. Sannipata- useful in chronic fever

Seeds and oil

Ahiphena is useful in Gastritis, heartburn, heaviness, etc. Being a balya in nature it is used to improve strength as well immunity. It is aphrodisiac in nature

As per Ayurveda, it decreases Vata dosha and increases Kapha dosha, so it is helpful in muscle pain, anxiety, neurological disorders, depression, spasm, neuralgia, etc.

Its sweet liquid dish i.e., kheer is useful in treating insomnia

Its oil has some medicinal uses as that of its seeds.

Purification technique:

Purification is done by dissolving it in water, filtering and heating it in mild heat till total water evaporates. Its paste is ground with ginger paste 21 times, dry it under shade and then preserve it.

Pharmacological action:

Antispasmodic, Antidiarrheal, Analgesic, and Sedative

Health benefits of Opium/Ahiphena :

  1. Poppy seeds contain oleic acid, so it is used in breast cancer treatment because it inhibits cancer cell growth and survival.
  2. These seeds keep the heart healthy and provide them strength.
  3. Being a digestive stimulant, it keeps the digestive system healthy.
  4. When these seeds get mixed with sugar, it is effective in treating insomnia.
  5. The paste of poppy seeds is very helpful in dryness and itching when it is mixed with lime juice.
  6. When paste of poppy seeds is applied externally over the affected areas, it shows coolant effect and helps to relieve burning sensation.
  7. In Joint pain, it works as an anti-arthritic that provides relief in gout, joint pain, and arthritis.
  8. It also contains carbohydrates that enhance energy.
  9. It works as an analgesic that provides relief in muscle and nerve pain.
  10. Not only that, but it also shows good results in treating piles, toothache, etc.
  11. Its leaves and seeds show anti-carcinogenic action on the body to treat cancer
  12. As per Ayurveda, because of its vyavayi and vikashi nature, it is helpful in alcohol withdrawal and blood poisoning.

Therapeutic uses:


The use of ahiphena is mainly in severe diarrhea because it has been used by our Acharyas as a potent anti-diarrheal herb since ancient times. This herb also decreases the frequency of bowel movements by slowing down intestinal movements. It is also indicated in severe diarrhea also reduces the pain associated with it.


Cholera is useful in severe as well as watery diarrhea that causes severe dehydration. This herb reduces the number and frequency of loose stools and provides relief in severe muscle cramps

Part used: Seed and seed oil, unripe capsule, and exudate from fruit


Codeine: 0.5gm

Exudate: 30 to 50 mg

Khas khas: 1-3 gm

Poppy seed oil: 1 to 4 drops

During acute pain and angina: 0.2gm

Fatal dose: Dosage more than 2 gm causes drowsiness, respiratory arrest, and then death.

Conclusion: Ahiphena is a valuable plant if used wisely and holds an important place in Ayurveda literature. On the other hand, irresponsible use of this plant may develop its addiction and overdose may lead to death also. So, it is advised to consult an Ayurveda doctor before any kind of dealing with Ahiphena.

Note: Our purpose is to serve useful information related to Opium/ Ahiphena’s benefits, dosage, and other properties. It is advised to the patients not to consume Opium/ Ahiphena on the basis of this information. Before taking Opium/ Ahiphenaas a medicine it is better to have an expert opinion because dosage and treatment vary from patient to patient depending on their symptoms and medical history.

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About Dr. Ranjana Kaushal

Dr. Ranjana Kaushal (MD Ayurveda) has 11 years of experience in the field of Ayurveda. Right now she is working as an Ayurveda consultant with Life Aveda. She has immense knowledge about herbs, their uses, and formulations. She has published articles related to many herbs and diseases in an international journal. She is also a degree holder in yoga and naturopathy. Read More..

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