The History and Health Benefits of California Poppy

To some, California poppy is simply a beautiful golden-orange flower commonly found growing naturally along the roadsides of The Golden State. For others, the word “poppy” may raise red flags, as it frequently conjures thoughts of narcotics or, more specifically, opium. But California poppy is much more than just the official state flower of California, and despite common misconceptions, it is not a narcotic either.

Here is everything you need to know about the history and health benefits of the California poppy.

What is California poppy?field of California poppy flowers

California poppy, a member of the Papaveraceae (poppy) family, is a native wildflower to northern Mexico and the western U.S. It is considered an annual plant, and it typically blooms in the late summer months. The plant can grow up to 1.5 feet in height, and the plant’s flower maintains a strong bond with the sunlight, opening mid-morning and closing again in the evening, or at cloudy points during the day.

Native Americans were the first to uncover the health benefits of California poppy. It was used for many traditional purposes, like easing headaches and stomachaches, but it was most notably used as a calming agent. Today, modern herbalists are still actively using various parts of the plant for therapeutic purposes, mainly for its calming properties and ability to support a healthy response to pain.

What are the health benefits of California poppy?

Naturally occurring compounds and special alkaloids found within California poppy, most notably protopine and allocryptopine, interact with receptors in the human body in a variety of powerful ways.

Some of California poppy’s health benefits include:

  • Lowers stress and nervousness levels: California poppy is thought to aid in relaxation and naturally promote a sense of calm.
  • Promotes sleep: Due to its calming and relaxing effect, California poppy has been shown to be an effective sleep aid.
  • Supports a healthy mood: In addition to its impact on stress levels, the alkaloids found within California poppy have been shown to provide mood-lifting effects.
  • Lessens everyday aches and pains: Due to its pain response supporting properties, California poppy is effective in addressing everyday aches and pains from exercise or stress.

Not to be confused with other (opium) poppies

While there are many species of the poppy plant, California poppy is merely a distant relative of the elusive opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, containing different alkaloids. California poppy does not contain any opiates. It is non-addictive, and it is safe. It obtains its effects from other alkaloids, and it is effective in mitigating various levels of discomfort, stress, and sleeplessness.

Uses for California poppy extract

In Rightful For Pain & Recovery PM, California poppy is used as a gentle and effective remedy for general discomfort and as a natural way to promote relaxation and sleep. It has been shown to be effective to relieve everyday aches and pains resulting from exercise or stress while lessening restlessness and nervousness.

As always, consult with a healthcare professional or herbalist if you have any questions or concerns about incorporating California poppy into your health and wellness routine. Our Customer Care Team and on-staff pharmacists are also available to answer your questions via email at, or through a private message on Facebook and Instagram.