translated from a website in French

eschscholtzia : photo E. Hurtel /



The California poppy, whose complicated scientific name ( Eschscholtzia) honors an illustrious Russian botanist, is native to the plains and coastal areas of California where it occurs on rather dry, arid or sandy soils.

Eschscholtzia californica is a generally annual plant, with cut foliage, pale green, with yellow or orange flowers, sometimes almost red, very decorative.

The flower bud of Eschscholtzia californica is characteristic, oblong with a rather sharp end, it has two deciduous sepals.

The flower, terminal, with 4 petals contains many stamens and the fruit, an elongated silique, contains many small seeds that easily ensure the dissemination of eschscholtzia.

The California poppy is easily acclimated, it is found in Chile as well as in the south or west of France; it is a decorative plant that can become invasive.

Like many papaveraceae, Eschscholtzia californica has a laticiferous network that contains a latex (colorless in California poppies).



The papaveraceae most often contain many ,ALKALOIDS in the manner of opium poppy (opium poppy). It is the same for the California poppy.

The WHOLE PLANT contains more alkaloids in the roots (2 to 3%) than the aerial parts,( 0.5%).

In addition, the alkaloid fraction of roots and aerial parts does not have the same composition.

Some of the most important alkaloids of Eschscholtzia californica include:

- Bisnorargemonine and Norargemonin (also present in Argemone mexicana),

- Eschscholtzine and Californidine typical of California poppy.

- Fumarin and Sanguinarin found in many papaveraceae (sanguinarine, celandine, argemone).

- Chelerythrine, Chelidonine and Homochelidonine also present in celandine.

- Alkaloids of group aporphine: Lauroscholtzine, Glaucine.

All these alkaloids of eschscholtzia have been studied by pharmacologists.

They do not appear to have any significant toxicity other than Sanguinarin.
SANGUINARINE is strongly suspected of being able to cause chronic GLAUCOMA (open angle) that can go as far as blindness.
This eye disease is serious and insidious.
The roots of the California poppy contain quite a lot of Sanguinarin, but it is only present as a trace in the aerial parts.

Eschscholtzia californica also contains many other more ubiquitous compounds:
- carotenoids (petal dyes),
- flavonoids,
- phytosterols,
- and a cyanogenic glycoside: linamarin.

Eschscholtzia californica was studied in France by the team of the Laboratory of Pharmacognosy at the University of Metz: Rolland A, Fleurentin J, Mortier F and their colleagues.
They showed that the aqueous or hydroalcoholic extract of the California poppy is, in the mouse:

- ANXIOLYTIC at low dose with a deshinbiter effect.
- SEDATIVE at higher dose; this calming effect is proportional to the dose.
- Analogous to a minor TRANQUILLIZER of the benzodiazepine type.

Indeed, when the "benzodiazepine receptor site" is blocked by an antagonistic substance, the California poppy loses its sedative power.

According to them, the alkaloids of eschscholtzia are not the only ones responsible for sedative or anxiolytic psychotropic activity.

Moreover, in vitro, we know that an eschscholtzia extract:

- Is ANTISPASMODIC , perhaps because of Protopine, antispasmodic and anticholinergic.
- Slows the heart rate.

Some alkaloids are cytotoxic, antifungal, slightly anti-inflammatory.

In humans, clinical trials generally confirm the SEDATIVE, somewhat HYPNOTIC and ANXIOLYTIC properties of the aqueous or hydroalcoholic extracts of the California poppy.

They would also seem slightly ANALGESIC.


The California poppy was used by Native Americans as a medicinal and food plant, but they were very quickly exterminated by American colonizers taking with them their knowledge of local plants.

The California poppy, eschscholtzia, is a sedative, slightly anxiolytic and analgesic plant that can be used:

- in case of DIFFICULTY TO SLEEP both in children over 6 years of age and adults,
- in case of INSOMNIAof the second part of the night,
- in case of MILD ANXIETY and when this is accompanied by "PSYCHOSOMATIC" DISORDERS of the type, ball in the throat, respiratory oppression, feeling of heart that stops, enuresis,
- when insomnia is accompanied by PAIN, related to osteoarthritis for example.

Some herbal therapists recommend the California poppy in case of MIGRAINES.

Eschscholtzia is often associated with other sedative plants such as passionflower, valerian or hawthorn.

Given the amount of alkaloids in California poppy, it is CONTRAINDICATED in pregnant or breastfeeding women and young children.

EXAMPLES OF DOSAGE (all these preparations do not have the same amount of active ingredient):

- Eschscholtzia californica, prolonged infusion of dry aerial parts: 5 g per day
- Eschscholtzia californica, alcoholic tincture of aerial parts: 100 to 150 drops in the evening, 1 hour before bedtime
- Eschscholtzia californica, fluid extract of aerial parts: easier to use because more concentrated in active ingredient, 15 to 30 drops 1 to 3 times a day.

There are many proprietary medicinal products that contain californian poppy extracts (eschscholtzia) alone or in combination with other sedative or soothing plants or substances.


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The California poppy, Eschscholtzia californica is often present in our gardens.
It is a very decorative plant, easy to grow.
The aerial parts of eschscholtzia are sedative, anxiolytic and slightly analgesic.
It is a plant that promotes the appearance of sleep and fights insomnia of the second part of the night.
The root contains moderately toxic alkaloids.