Californian Poppy – Some of the science

Let’s take a look at:  Californian Poppy

The aerial parts of the Californian Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) have traditionally been used (originally by native Americans) for reducing anxiety, assisting sleep and reducing pain. More recently scientists have become interested to find out if it has Nootropic effects (ie improving cognitive function and focus) however, these studies have not been completed yet.

There has been very little study of Californian Poppy taken in isolation in humans. Most of the research that has been undertaken has been in mice and rats or invitro.

In a study by Rolland et al, mice were administered a range of doses of aqueous extracts of the plant, and their behaviour observed as they were put to tests commonly used when analyzing the anxiolytic  effects of potential anti-anxiety drugs. One of the tests performed involved isolating an extract-treated mouse in a box with a small stairway. Previous tests indicated that the less anxious a mouse feels the higher it will climb up the steps in comparison to non-treated mice. The researchers determined that a relatively high dose of extract derived from the California Poppy induced the mice to sleep, while lower doses appeared to decrease the anxiety in treated mice and led them to climb higher up the stairway than non-treated mice. The authors of the paper also noted that there did not appear to be any toxic side effects from the extract – so fortunately no mice were harmed in this study!

Another study by Hanus et al (this time with humans and double blind with placebo) combined Californian Poppy with Hawthorn berry in 264 patients with diagnosed General Anxiety Disorder of mild to moderate intensity over a period of three months given combination therapy (75mg dry hydroalcoholic extract of Hawthorn, 20mg dry water extract of Californian Poppy and 75mg elemental Magnesium) or placebo showed statistically significant benefits associated with all parameters of Anxiety (assessed by Hamilton Anxiety Scores) on day 14, 60, and 90 with a dip at day 30 where placebo was effective enough to make no significant difference; the side effects did not differ between groups

A couple of good general reviews of research into Californian Poppy can be found at Examine.com and Emaxhealth.com


Any information we give in this blog is not meant to replace the advice of your health professional. We always recommend that you seek a full consultation with a registered herbalist