Health Benefits and Side Effects of California Poppy

What is the California Poppy?

California poppies are a species of beautiful flowers that grow in parts of South America. It is an ornamental plant that flowers in summer. California poppies grow in large amounts along the roadside as native flowers and are also seen commonly growning in the garden. Their flowers range in color from orange to yellow and are pollinators for bumblebees. California Poppy is also known as “cup of gold” and California sunlight as they have a bright cherry color.(1)

California poppies are used for medicinal purposes and its supplement is known to have calming effects. It can support relaxation, reduce pain and also enhance sleep.

California poppies have been used in folk medicine for sedative purposes.(2) It is available in the form of tablets, capsules, tea, and tinctures.

Health Benefits of California Poppy

There are numerous compounds present in California poppy including alkaloids that act on GABA receptors and are distributed through the central nervous system. The GABA receptors respond to neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid and inhibit neuron firing. These neurotransmitters are responsible for sleep regulation.(3)

  1. Promotes Sleep When Combined With Other Drugs

    When mixed with Valerian extract, California poppy extract may promote sleep. Similar to the California poppy compounds there are compounds present in Valerian that enhance the response of GABA in the body and lead to sedative effects.(4)

    A study was conducted on 36 people taking 4 tablets nightly of a supplement containing 80 mg of California poppy extract and 32 mg of valerian root extract. It was found that there was a significant improvement in sleep duration and sleep efficiency.(5) At the end of this study, it was found that the insomnia severity index decreased efficiently.

    However, in this study, there was no control group and the researchers were from the supplement company that may have influenced the result. Also, apart from this study, there is no other human evidence of the effects of California poppy sleep effects.

  2. Has Sedative and Anti-Anxiety Properties

    Human and animal studies suggest that the California poppy may have anxiety-reducing effects. A study was done on mice found the California poppy to have anti-anxiety effects. Another older study showed the effectiveness of the California poppy in reducing pain.(6, 7)

    One study was done for 3 months on 264 people with mild to moderate anxiety. They were given 2 tablets containing California poppy extract, hawthorn extract, and magnesium. It was found that the anxiety symptoms in these people effectively reduced compared with the people on placebo.(8)

    However, there are no studies that show the effectiveness of California poppy extract alone in this condition.

Side Effects of California Poppy

California poppy extract on interaction with certain medicines may lead to adverse effects.

A study found that California poppy extract and its alkaloids may interact with certain drugs including blood thinner such as warfarin and blood pressure medication like metoprolol.(9, 10) There are limited studies on the effect of a high dose of this supplement. It is therefore recommended not to start it without a doctor’s advice.

California poppy is very less researched and therefore its supplement is less recommended by the doctors. However, there are a few studies that give evidence of its health benefits but again very few are on humans.

If still, you think you can benefit from California poppy make sure you consult a doctor before starting.