Red poppy (Papaver Rhoeas L.), a plant known for the beauty of its red petals when they dot fields and roadsides, has spread from the Middle East. It belongs to the papaveraceae family and contains, as its etymology indicates, rhoeadine and papaverine which are isoquinoline alkaloids. These components, other than tannins, give the red poppy sedative properties as well as a slight hypnotic effect, hence its calming action and its indication for soothing sleep, and fighting against insomnia and anxiety. Long recognised for its sleep inducing properties, red poppy was also recommended as an anti-inflammatory or analgesic for dental pain, ear pain or dysentery.
The red color of the red poppy flower’s petals is due to the presence of a derivative of cyanidin, an anthocyanin pigment. To this anthocyanin active ingredient is added that of mucilage to form an association with moisturising, emollient and anti-wrinkle properties used in particular in cosmetics. The alkaloid present in the red poppy gives it other medicinal properties: it is a cough suppressant (or bechic), expectorant and antiseptic that promotes good breathing by calming spasms due to cough (antispasmodic). The red poppy seeds, filled with oil, cause a certain narcotic effect which makes it possible to recommend this plant as a mild anxiolytic.
Very rich in vitamin C and polyphenols, red poppy petals are also a great source of antioxidants. An ancient flower with a delicate scent, red poppy has aromatic qualities that are back in fashion in savoury and sweet culinary recipes. A soft and aesthetic plant, red poppy is now available in various food products.