The Power of the Poppy

The Power of the Poppy

Harnessing Nature’s Most Dangerous Plant Ally

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A comprehensive look at the inspiring, healing, and addictive powers of the Opium Poppy and its derivatives throughout history

• Covers the history, risks, and benefits of opium, morphine, oxycodone, methadone, and fentanyl

• Provides techniques of cultivation, extraction, and safe consumption as well as methods for overcoming addiction and staying “clean”

• Profiles 11 famous users, including Thomas de Quincey, William S. Burroughs, Lou Reed, and DJ Screw

Few plant allies have a history as long and well-documented as Papaver somniferum, the celebrated and infamous opium poppy. For thousands of years people around the world have been unable to resist the poppy’s siren song of intoxicating pleasure, pain relief, and visionary states--so much so that this potent plant has literally adapted itself to human civilization: in increasing its intoxicating properties, it came to rely solely on humankind for its propagation.

From 6,000-year-old poppy seeds found in archaeological digs in Europe to the black tar heroin factories of South America and the modern “War on Drugs,” Kenaz Filan explores the history of this enduring plant and its many derivatives--including opium, morphine, oxycodone, methadone, and fentanyl--as well as its symbiotic relationship with humans as medicine, food, intoxicant, and visionary tool. Profiling 11 famous users including Thomas de Quincey, William S. Burroughs, Lou Reed, and DJ Screw, Filan examines how opium and other poppy derivatives inspired them as well as the high price it exacted for its inspiration. Covering techniques of cultivation, extraction, and safe consumption along with methods for overcoming addiction and staying “clean,” this book offers a sensible approach to the poppy that recognizes the plant not as a crop to be harvested or eradicated but as a living, sentient ally that can offer healing or harm and must be approached with respect and caution.
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  • Park Street Press | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781594773990 | 
  • February 2011
List Price $18.95
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 14

Fentanyl


Today we have isolated Papaver somniferum’s active chemicals. We have also used them as precursors and inspiration for our own new painkillers. Many of our experiments tried to take the addictive sting out of opium. To date we’ve had little luck with that; despite the efforts of our best chemical minds, Poppy still demands her bargain. The substances we have brewed with her and in her honor have as many uses and dangers as the mother alkaloids that first attracted humanity’s attention. We have found no real substitute for the painkilling properties of morphine or other poppy-derived... see more

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