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Ahiphena (Papavar Somniferum)

Papaver Somniferum is an annual herb that grows up to 100 cm. It is native of Eastern Mediterranean region but it is cultivated throughout Europe. Herbal plant is greyish green in color and stems and leaves are covered sparsely with small and soft hair. Leaves are lobed and clasp at the base of stem. Flowers of this herb normally grow with four white, mauve and red petals and more than 120 mm in diameter. Fruits are round shaped capsules and when whole herb is wounded the plant emits white latex.

Papever Somniferum has many species and subspecies but all are different from each other in many aspects like flower color, shape and number of petals, quantity of flowers and fruits, color of seeds and production of opium etc.


Seeds or poppy seeds are used to prepare poppyseed oil, an edible oil with numerous benefits. Both oil and seed residue has commercial properties as poppy seeds are used as food and bakers use to decorate products mixed with sweet fillings.

Morphine is also prepared from this herb. Morphine is an opioid used for moderate to severe pain but misuse of this drug can cause addiction and overdose of this causes spontaneous death.



Dried latex is used to prepare highly addictive narcotic drug. Various incisions on fruit are made to collect yellow brown latex. It contains various alkaloids such as morphine, codeine, thebaine, papaverin, narcotine, meconic acid and apomorphine etc.

Poppyseed Oil

Oil is prepared by poppy seeds and has numerous commercial and health benefits. With the abundance of carbohydrates and calcium this oil is rich in linoleic acid. This acid gives prevention against various cardio vascular disorders and breast cancer. It is also used in iron deficiency.


Native range of this annual herb is eastern Mediterranean but it is cultivated in Asia, Europe and China. United Kingdom is cultivating this plant for medicinal reasons.


  • Kingdom - Angiosperma
  • Order – Ranunculates
  • Family – Papaveraceae


  • Latin name – Papaver somniferum
  • Sanskrit name – Ahiphen
  • Hindi – Post, Afeem, Afeem ka doda
  • Bengali – Aaphi, aphim and pasto
  • Urdu – khaskhashufaid
  • Kashmiri – Aaphin, Aphen
  • Telgu – Abhini, Gasalu


Hindi / Sanskrit English
Rasa Kashay, Tikta Taste Astringent, Bitter
Guna Laghu, Ruksha, Suksham, Vikashi, Vyavayi Physical Property Light, Dry, Minute, Expanding, Spreading
Virya Ushna Potency Hot
Vipaka Katu Metabolic Property
(After Digestion)


This herb is kapha hara, Madakari, Grahi (absorbent) and Sukra stambhak, swashar (good for respiratory tract), shoolprashmana (pain relieving), balya (strengthening), vrishya (aphrodisiac) and nidrajanan (sedative).

It is best used in atisara, kasa, jvara and nidra nasha.

Charak Samhita Sushrut Samhita
No reference No reference


Ancient Verse about Ahiphen

Exudate of ahiphena is used to prepare opium (khaskshir). Khasphala kshir, aphuk and ahiphen are the various names of this herb. This herb is used to pacify kapha dosha (kapha nashak), vata pitta karak.


  • As per Acharya Charak – No references.
  • As per Acharya Shushrut – No references.
  • As per Acharya Vagbhatta – No references.


Rajnighantu describes this herb under "Upa visa gana". Charak and sushrut did not mention it as poison.

  • Jarana (white variety) – It act as digestive
  • Marana (black variety) – It causes death
  • Dharna (yellow variety) – It acts as tonic (rasayana)
  • Sarana (different colors) – It is used to remove metabolic residues from body


  • Seeds and leaves are anti-cancerous used to treat cancer.
  • Paste of seeds are used to cure ulcers.
  • Decoction of roots is wonderful remedy used to prevent tumor and hard knots in joints.
  • This herb is also used in alcohol withdrawal and blood poisoning because of its vyavayi and vikashi nature.
  • Ahiphena is brilliant herb for urinary system as it reduces sugar level in urine.
  • It is also anti-pyretic and very helpful in fever.
  • Special property of morphine is to reduce pain and it is best used in disorders of digestive system.
  • It increases intraocular pressure and also used in eye disorders.
  • Paste of seeds applied in dandruff give wonderful results.
  • Suppositories of this herb is used in fissures, haemorrhoids and various rectal disorders.
  • It is also useful in pleuritis and other body inflammation
  • It balances kapha dosha in body.


  • Ahiphenasav – Used in dysentery, severe diarrhea and in gastro enteritis.
  • Nidrodayavati for various disorders.
  • Karpoor rasa pacifies vata and pitta and used in fever and bleeding per rectum.
  • Dughdavati
  • Nidrodya rasa
  • Kamini vidrawan ras


  • Morphine during pain and acute angina – 0.2 gm.
  • Exudate – 30 to 50 mg
  • Khas khas – 1 to 3 gm
  • Codein – 0.5 gm
  • Poppy seed oil – 1 to 4 drops
  • Fatal dose – More than 2 gm of morphine causes drowsiness, respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest and finally death.


Unripe capsule, seed, exudate from fruit and seed oil.

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