Eschscholzia californica

Common Names: California Poppy, Desert Poppy, Desert Gold, Yellow Poppy
Family: Papaveraceae
Part/s Used: Flowering plant, root
Energetics: Cooling
Taste: Bitter, mild sweetness 
Actions: Nervine, sedative, hypnotic, analgesic, soporific, anti-spasmodic, anodyne
Constituents: Protopine, cryptopine, chelidonine, rutin, isoquinoline alkaloids
Planet: Mercury
Element: Water 

Medicinal Preparations:

Tincture (ratio & % alcohol): Fresh: 1:2 or 1:3  Dry: 1:5 50%
Drops: 15-120   Times a day: 3x

Glycerite:  Fresh: 1:2    Glycerin: 50%    Alcohol: 50%
Drops: 15-60    Times a day: 3x

Tea:  Hot infusion 
Ounces: 4-12   Times a day: 3x

Habitat and Botanical Description: 

Eschscholzia is native to the western United States and grows in a variety of habitats below 7000 ft. It is considered an annual but it some areas a deep-rooted perennial. It grows in abundance with good spring rains but has been known to bloom into fall if the rains are consistent. Its lime green leaves are lacey, and the bright orange cone shaped flower stands on a leafless stem. A garden escapee that has interbred with E. Mexicana that is smaller in stature.  The two species can be used interchangeably. 

Medicinal Uses:

California Poppy is a nervine that encourages relaxation and reduces stress, anxiety, nervousness and tension. To enhance its nervine properties, combine with valerian, hops, passionflower. Helpful for people with insomnia encouraging deep, restful sleep but does not affect rising. Poppy is a wonderful herb for treating hyperactivity in both children and adults. 

An analgesic and skeletal muscle relaxant and mild alternative to the much stronger opium poppy. Using a lower dose will have more of a anxiolytic effect while higher doses have a sedative and analgesic effect. Some individuals can become desensitized to the opiate family after long term use. Use in combo with other herbs such as valerian, kava, dog wood, passionflower and hops. 

Eschscholzia is a smooth muscle anti spasmodic. A respiratory for a dry irritated cough, whooping cough and dry bronchitis, ammonia and croup and will stop the irritation and sedate the nerves when the cough is unproductive. 

Eschscholzia also helps with pain and management for flare ups in IBS, colitis and crones. Use small frequent doses up to every hour during a flare up. Use in the same way for menstrual cramps.


Gather the whole plant when the flowers are in full bloom. It even better to harvest a bit past bloom when there is a variety of seed pods, flowers and exposed pink receptacles (after petals have fallen off).  It is at this stage that the plant contains varying amounts of  latex. California Poppy can soak up heavy metals and cause yellowing in the orange poppy (but there is also a native yellow poppy). Remove the dead basal leaves and process fresh or dry on wire mesh racks in the shade or if the plant is tall enough you can hang upside down. The dried herb is delicate and is easily degraded by sunlight.  Store in a dark glass container up to 18 months. You can also harvest the root in the late fall for blood orange root sap. 

Recommended Products:


Use caution with latex allergies. Not everyone with a latex allergy will be allergic to naturally occurring latex. Cryptopine was tested in animals and had uterine effects. Do not take with prescription medication or during pregnancy.  Consult a doctor if taking other sedatives, hypnotics, antidepressant medications. False positive for opium. Avoid eating/drinking if taking drug tests.  Harvest in clean area as poppy can soak up heavy metals. Some individuals can become desensitized to the opiate family after long term use.  


  • Hoffman, David. The Complete Herbs Sourcebook. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing Inc; 2016
  • Moore, Michael. Medicinal Plants of the Pacific Northwest. Santa Fe, NM: Museum of New Mexico Press; 1993
  • Sinadinos, Christa. The Essential Guide to Western Botanical Medicine. Fieldbrook, CA; 2020
  • Sinadinos, Christa. Northwest School for Botanical Studies Course. Lecture Notes; 2014

 Disclosure: This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.