Ms. Homegrown here:
Where we live, this is the poppy season of the year. California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) bloom everywhere in our neighborhood and especially in our garden. I have to admit that I have a greedy attitude towards plants, my main thought when I meet one is "What can you do for me?" California poppies, beautiful as they are, have become more interesting to me since I started have to consume it. Don't worry (or panic): the Root Simple connection hasn't turned into an opium den. California poppies are not among the famousPapaver somniferumspecies, and they cannot get you high, nor are they addictive. However, they can help you relax.
I'm all for using plants that grow easily in your garden or general area, rather than trying to coax more exotic species. There are many herbs that can be used to make relaxing teas (valerian, catnip, linden, chamomile, etc.), but this one intrigues me because it's essentially a weed where I live. If it doesn't grow easily where you live, I encourage you to research other herbs that grow more easily in your area.
But for those of you who have no problem growing California poppies, I will say that this year I made tea with fresh leaves of California poppies and I have to tell you that I really like it. I like it so much I dry plants so I have a tent to last me through summer and fall and I can also make a tincture.
It makes a relaxing tea. I find it useful in two types of situations: First, when I have a persistent tension headache, the kind that happens when you're in a bad mood and can't find a way to calm down because your head is so sore. . I find this tea clears my brain enough to make the headache go away. The second situation I take it in is when I'm very tired but refuse to go to bed for some reason.
What do the experts say?
There is a lot of somewhat conflicting information about the California poppy on the internet, and even my herbal books at home say different things about its properties. In general, I think all sources agree that it has calming amounts and will not harm you. In fact, in Europe it is often used as a component of tranquilizers for children. Based on this, I trust my own assessment of the effect regardingmir. Everyone reacts to herbs a little differently, and everyone has different needs, so I encourage you to give it a try and see what you think.
InMedicinal Plants of the Western Pacific, says Michael Moore, it is a "...surprisingly effective herb for use in anxiety" and "when used as a sedative it promotes relaxation and great lethargy." He notes that at higher doses it has a mild pain-relieving effect.
One thing it addresses is whether drinking this tea would come up positive on a drug test. His answer is that while the plant doesn't contain the same alkaloids found in opiates, it does contain alkaloids similar enough to cause a false positive result on a urine test. I've also heard strong opinions from other sources that he will or will not appear.
Use California IndiansEschscholziein their own way. AccordinglyHealing with western medicinal plants, the Chumash made an envelope out of the pods to stop the mother's milk. For them, this was (is) the main use of the plant. Secondary uses include using the root for a toothache and making a brew of the flowers to kill lice.
How to use:
You can make tea with all of the above-ground parts of the plant: leaves, stems, and flowers. You can use these parts fresh or dried. I've used fresh so far. I just fill my tea basket with fresh leaves, pour hot water over them and let them steep for a long time, maybe 10 minutes. I put a saucer on top of the cup to keep the tea warm. Long steeping naturally makes for a stronger and stronger brew.
All the sources I've read indicate that this tea is uncomfortably bitter. I haven't found this to be the case, but my palette may be influenced by Erik's ongoing fascination with bitter Italian greens. Sometimes I add some mint just to spice it up, but honestly I don't find it particularly unpleasant.
(ETA: Back to September to add to this post. Now that summer is almost over I can tell the plants are getting more bitter as they get older and the weather warms up. It's the first growth spurt that is more appetizing).
All I can say about the dosage is that the more tea you drink and the stronger you brew it, the more pronounced the effect. If I just want a bedtime concoction, analogous to chamomile, I just make a cup of tea like I make every cup of tea. When I have a headache I make a small cup of tea (2-3 cups) and brew it strongly and drink it until I feel better.
You can also dye the plant fresh or dry in alcohol and take it that way. This isn't the place for a tincture, but if you already know how, Moore says: Tincture of dried plants: 1:5, 50% alcohol; Fresh 1:2; Both 30-60 drops, up to 4 times daily, for anxiety.
I've heard that the root can be held against a sore tooth in places other than Chumash Spring, but I don't know if it will work. Some sources I've read use the root and air parts for tea, but I haven't tried it. I've come to the conclusion that the root must have slightly different properties than the foliage and haven't dared to examine them yet.
California poppy cultivation:
If you live where this plant is native, all you have to do is toss a few seeds into your garden in the fall and the plants will magically appear after the winter rains. No special care or soil preparation is required. You don't even have to bury the seed. The plants will thrive on their own until the heat and drought of summer kill them. However, before they leave, they will spread seeds and more plants will appear of their own accord next year. I'm not sure how you would grow it in other climates but my guess is you would discard the seed after the last chance of frost. If anyone has experience growing California poppies in other climates, please let us know what you do.
Nanny State Precautions:
Maybe you shouldn't drink too much of it and then drive, use drills, table saws, curling irons, etc. You probably shouldn't mix this with prescription drugs without consulting your doctor, especially if you're taking tranquilizers. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, you know the common practice: consult your doctor. And anyway, the part about drying out the milk might be a concern. Finally, California poppies are protected by state law. It is illegal to pick them up except in your own backyard.
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