The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature’s Most Dangerous Plant Ally by Kenaz Filan

The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature’s Most Dangerous Plant Ally
Kenaz Filan
Park Street Press (2011)
ISBN 9781594773990
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (3/11)

“Approximately 7,500 years ago agricultural communities began to develop along the basin of the Danube River. Within less than two hundred years they had spread to what would become Belgium and northern France in the west and Ukraine in the east.” I personally come from this culture and my ancestors in the Ukraine grew poppy seeds as a food source as did my own parents in Canada. There was no connection to using the poppy for the drug trade.

The historical aspects of the poppy were fascinating to read.  For something that started out as a food source and oil for lamps ended up on the black market by drug cartels spreading worldwide. The potent aspect of opium is intoxicating and addictive, however, like any other entheogen it is used for medicinal purposes with marked results. Aside from opium there are many other derivatives: morphine, oxycodone, methadone, and fentanyl.

Kenaz Filan, in “The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature’s Most Dangerous Plant Ally” focuses on eleven famous users, one of which is Elizabeth Barrett Browning. As a teen she was very ill with an unexplained sickness.  (It is suspected she had chronic fatigue syndrome.)  During that time she was treated with laudanum and morphine to which she became addicted.  She wrote to Robert, her future husband, about needing poppies to function while referring to morphine as her “elixir.”

Part Four of “The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature’s Most Dangerous Plant Ally,” provides information on cultivation, poppy tea, pills/tablets/capsules, smoking, insufflation and injection, as well as dependence/addiction/tolerance.  There is also a section on getting clean and staying clean.

This is my first exposure to so much information about the poppy.  Growing up as a child I saw fields of beautiful flowers waving in the wind and witnessed my mother harvesting the seeds for filling in baked goods.  The pastries she made with poppy seeds were some of my favorites.

If you are at all interested in knowing more about this entheogen I encourage you to read “The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature’s Most Dangerous Plant Ally.”   Kenaz Filan provides an in-depth look into the history of the poppy, the drug war and how it started, and if used properly, how it can be used for medicinal purposes.  The writing is concise and understandable, giving the reader a better understanding to use the poppy with reverence or learn the cautionary details.

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