Ahiphena (Papaver somniferum)

Ahiphena (Papaver somniferum): The Opium Poppy with Medicinal Significance

Basonym of Drug: The medicinal plant known as Ahiphena is scientifically referred to as Papaver somniferum.

Main Synonyms: In Ayurveda, Ahiphena is known by various synonyms, including:

  1. Kshirini
  2. Kshiravriksha
  3. Atikamukha
  4. Ahiphenika
  5. Ahisuta
  6. Dhanyapushpa
  7. Suvishanika
  8. Prasahya

Regional Name: Ahiphena is also known by different names in various regional languages. Some common regional names include:

  • Hindi: Post/Khas-Khas
  • Bengali: Posta
  • Kannada: Gasagasalu
  • Malayalam: Kashakasha
  • Marathi: Khaskhas
  • Tamil: Kasakasa
  • Telugu: Gasagasalu

Botanical Name: The botanical name of Ahiphena is Papaver somniferum.

Family: Ahiphena belongs to the Papaveraceae family.

Classification of Dravya (Gana) as described in Charak and Sushrut: In the classical Ayurvedic texts of Charak and Sushrut, Ahiphena is classified as follows:

  • Charak: Ahiphena is categorized under the group of “Anilghna,” which means it counteracts the effects of wind and Vata disorders.
  • Sushrut: In Sushrut Samhita, Ahiphena is classified as a “Kandughna” drug, indicating its use in relieving itching and skin-related conditions.

External Morphology: Ahiphena is an annual herbaceous plant with a height ranging from 1 to 5 feet. The leaves are lobed, and the flowers are large and showy, with colors ranging from white, pink, to purple. The fruit is a rounded capsule containing numerous small seeds.

Useful Parts: The useful part of Ahiphena is primarily the seeds, which are commonly known as poppy seeds.

Important Phytoconstituents: Ahiphena seeds contain various phytochemicals, including alkaloids such as morphine and codeine. These compounds are responsible for its medicinal properties and potential psychoactive effects.

Rasa Panchaka: The Rasa Panchaka (five tastes) of Ahiphena seeds is as follows:

  • Rasa (Taste): Sweet (Madhura)
  • Guna (Quality): Heavy (Guru), Oily (Snigdha)
  • Virya (Potency): Cooling (Shita)
  • Vipaka (Post-digestive taste): Sweet (Madhura)

Action on Dosha, Dhatu, and Mala: Ahiphena seeds primarily pacify the Vata dosha. They nourish and strengthen the Rakta (blood) and Asthi (bone) dhatus.

Prayogarha Vyadhi (Therapeutic Indications): Ahiphena is utilized in Ayurvedic medicine for various therapeutic purposes. Some of its essential indications include:

  • Pain relief (Vedanasthapana)
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Promoting sleep (Nidrajanana)
  • Soothing skin conditions
  • Respiratory conditions (Shwasa and Kasa)
  • Digestive disorders (Agnimandya)

Amayikaprayoga and Matra (Therapeutic Administration and Dose): Ahiphena seeds can be used in various forms, and the dosage depends on the specific application and the individual’s condition. Commonly used forms include:

  • Powder (for pain relief and sleep promotion): 2-4 grams, once or twice a day
  • Decoction (for respiratory and digestive disorders): 50-100 ml, once or twice a day

Vishishta Yoga (Names of Important Formulations): Ahiphena seeds are an integral component of several Ayurvedic formulations. Some notable formulations include:

  • Ksheerabala Taila
  • Mahanarayana Taila
  • Balaswagandhadi Taila

Vishakta Lakshan (Adverse Effects): Ahiphena seeds should be used with caution and under the guidance of a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner, as excessive consumption or misuse may lead to adverse effects, especially due to the presence of psychoactive compounds.

Chikitsopachara (Remedial Measures): Ahiphena seeds are best used under the guidance of a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner. Proper dosing, combining with suitable adjuvants, and considering an individual’s specific condition are essential aspects of its therapeutic application.

Shodhana (If Required): Ahiphena seeds do not typically require shodhana (purification) procedures.

Ahiphena’s seeds, commonly known as poppy seeds, have been utilized for their diverse medicinal properties in traditional medicine systems, including Ayurveda. While their therapeutic potential is valued, it is crucial to exercise caution and adhere to the traditional principles of Ayurveda when using Ahiphena seeds, especially due to the presence of psychoactive compounds.

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