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Opium Poppy History

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The opium poppy, known to ancient Sumerians as Hul Gil, this “joy plant” dates back as far as 3400 B.C.E. The plant has a rich history of cultural importance, medicinal uses, an irrefutable impact in the arts, and has been the cause of multiple wars, and the near downfall of societies (Opium, 1998). The cultivation of the opium poppy is widely accepted to have origins in the time of the ancient Sumerians (Opium, 1998). From here its use was passed on to future civilizations and played a crucial role in shaping future wars, current drug enforcement policies, and forever changing the medical field. During 1100 B.C.E., ancient Cypriots were said to have smoked the drug before the fall of Troy, though there is no mention as to whether it was used…show more content…
By 1606 C.E., Elizabeth I was demanding the drug be purchased and transported back to her lands (Opium, 1998). It was this Western and later Eastern demand for the drug and cries for free trade pitted against the adverse societal impacts seen in China that eventually led to the first of the Opium Wars. In 1729, Chinese emperor, Yung Cheng, began limiting the sale of opium and by 1799, Emperor Kia King placed a complete ban on the sale and growth of the drug (Opium,1998). The British, who had been importing goods from China for over a century but rarely exporting to the nation, had now found a new way to increase their wealth- exporting opium to China (Brown,…show more content…
Realizing the effect this was having on the nation, the Emperor became intent on ending the trade. By 1839, the countries were involved in a bitter clash that left men, women, and children dead, and Hong Kong ceded to the British. In the end, the Treaty of Nanking brought the First Opium War to a close, but the battle over opium was far from over. Scientists continued to develop uses for opium, using it for treatments for everything from internal diseases and diseases of women (Opium, 1998), to pain relievers and cough suppressants. Initially, derivatives like morphine, codeine, and heroin were hailed as new miracle drugs but eventually noted was their addictive nature and societies were left to deal with generations of addicts. With the hopes of easing symptoms of withdrawing, doctors looked to other plants for assistance. In the early studies of the cacao plant, doctors attempted to use it in detoxing opium and morphine users (Gootenberg, 2009, p.
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