Freshly obtained sap or latex yielded by prickly poppy encloses elements that dissolve proteins and it is used for treating cold sores, warts as well as blotches on the lips. On the other hand, the entire prickly poppy also works as a gentle palliative/ painkiller. Using small doses of an infusion prepared with the seeds of prickly poppy works as a sedative for children suffering from asthma. This is a widespread practice in Cuba. When this infusion is used in large amounts the oil present in the seeds works as a purgative. The flowers of prickly poppy possess expectorant properties and, hence, are very useful in treating coughs as well as other problems relating to the chest. An infusion prepared with the herb is used to alleviate kidney pain, to facilitate in getting rid of a torn placenta and overall to aid in cleansing the body following childbirth. After the Spanish arrived in Sonora, they included this herb in their pharmacopeia and named it cardosanto. It is important to note that cardosanto ought not to be wrongly translated to blessed thistle (botanical name, Cnicus benedictus). Prickly poppy was used by the Hispanic people in the form of a sedative (tranquilizer) as well as a palliative tea with a view to provide relief from migraine headaches among other things. The seeds of the herb are used internally as a laxative. A light yellow latex-like substance is secreted by the prickle poppy seed pods when they are cut open. In effect, this argemone sap encloses berberine and protopine and is generally used therapeutically as a tranquilizer. Traditional healers in Mali use the herb prickly poppy to treat malaria. Apart from these countries, people in India also use prickly poppy in different ways. While the plant is used as a gentle pain killer owing to its alkaloid content, the fresh yellowish and milky acid latex yielded by the herb is said to enclose substances that help to dissolve proteins and, hence, it can be used to treat cold sores, warts, cutaneous disease (ailments related to the skin), and itches and so on. The root of the prickly poppy is known to gradually restore the healthy functions of the body (alterative) and, hence, can be utilized to treat persistent skin disorders. In addition, the roots of the herb are expectorant and, therefore, can be used to treat coughs as well as other aliments relating to the chest. The seeds of this plant are demulcent (a soothing agent or drug), emetic (a medication that causes vomiting), expectorant and laxative. As mentioned before, an infusion prepared with the seeds of prickly poppy and used in small doses can be used as a mild tranquilizer for children. However, caution needs to be exercised while using the infusion, as when it is taken in large amounts, it is likely to work as a potent purgative. In addition, the seeds of this plant can also be used as a cure for poisoning due to snake bites. In Ayurveda, the ancient Indian stream of herbal medicine, prickly poppy is used as a diuretic, purgative as well as to eliminate the internal parasites. In addition, Ayurveda says that this herb is effective for curing skin disorders, leprosy, inflammation as well as fevers caused by problems of the bile. The roots of prickly poppy are considered to be anthelmintic (a medication that eliminates internal parasites, especially intestinal worms in humans). The juice extracted from the fresh prickly poppy plant is used to treat ophthalmia (inflammation of the eyes) as well as opacity (murkiness) of the cornea. The seeds of prickly poppy resemble mustard seeds and are used as a purgative and sedative. Since the seeds look like mustard seeds, many unscrupulous traders in India use them to adulterate mustard seeds. When the non-edible toxic oil extracted from the prickly poppy seeds is blended with mustard oil and taken internally by means of cooking, it results in dropsy (edema) - an unusual retention of fluids by the body. This herb is also used in homeopathy. The homeopathic medication prepared with prickly poppy is used for treating problems caused by tape worms. As mentioned earlier, the prickly poppy root is an alterative - a medication that helps to restore the healthy bodily functions. Owing to this property of the herb, it is extensively used to treat skin disorders. The flowers of the plant are said to possess expectorant properties and, hence, have been traditionally used to treat coughs and other chest problems.
Prickly poppy is native to Mexico and is now found growing in the tropical climatic regions extending from the southern-most part of the United States to South America. The plant has also been naturalized in places, such as India and Ethiopia. The plant has a preference for dry soil and is generally found growing in fields where tobacco is cultivated.
Prickly poppy herb encloses isoquinoline alkaloids which are very similar to those in opium poppy.