Introduction

Opium, a narcotic drug that's obtained from the unripe seedpods of the Papaver somniferum (Papaver somniferum), a plant of the Papaveraceae . Opium can be extracted by slightly incising the seed capsules of the poppy after the plant’s flower petals have fallen. The slit seed pods exude a milky latex that coagulates and changes colour, turning into a gum-like brown mass upon exposure to air. This raw opium could also be ground into a powder, sold as lumps, cakes, or bricks, or treated further to get derivatives like morphine, codeine, and heroin. Opiates are the drugs obtained from it. 


Opium Alkaloids

The pharmacologically active principles of opium reside in its alkaloids, the foremost important of which, morphine, constitutes about 10 percent by weight of raw opium. Other active alkaloids like papaverine and codeine are present in smaller proportions. Opium alkaloids are of two types, counting on chemical structure and action. Morphine, codeine, and thebaine, which represent one type, influence the central systema nervosum and are analgesic, narcotic, and potentially addicting compounds. Papaverine, noscapine (formerly called narcotine), and most of the opposite opium alkaloids act only to relax involuntary (smooth) muscles.


Physiological Actions of Opiates

Opiates (e.g., morphine, codeine, and thebaine) exert their main effects on the brain and medulla spinalis. Their principal action is to alleviate or suppress pain. The drugs also alleviate anxiety; induce relaxation, drowsiness, and sedation; and should impart a state of euphoria or other enhanced mood. Opiates even have important physiological effects: they slow respiration and heartbeat, suppress the cough reflex, and relax the graceful muscles of the alimentary canal. Opiates are addictive drugs; they produce a physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms which will only be assuaged by continued use of the drug. With chronic use, the body develops a tolerance to opiates, in order that progressively larger doses are needed to realize an equivalent effect. The higher opiates—heroin and morphine—are more addictive than opium or codeine. Opiates are classified as narcotics because they relieve pain, induce stupor and sleep, and produce addiction. The habitual use of opium produces physical and mental deterioration and shortens life. An acute overdose of opium causes respiratory depression which may be fatal.

Opium was for several centuries the principal painkiller known to medicine and was utilized in various forms and under various names. Laudanum, for instance , was an alcoholic tincture (dilute solution) of opium that was utilized in European practice as an analgesic and sedative. Physicians relied on paregoric, a camphorated solution of opium, to treat diarrhea by relaxing the alimentary canal. The narcotic effects of opium are mainly due to morphine, which was first isolated about 1804. In 1898 it had been discovered that treating morphine with anhydride yields heroin, which is four to eight times as potent as morphine in both its pain-killing properties and its addictive potential. The other alkaloids naturally present in opium are much weaker; codeine, for instance , is merely one-sixth as potent as morphine and is employed mainly for cough relief. Since the late 1930s, various synthetic drugs have developed that possess the analgesic properties of morphine and heroin. These drugs, which include meperidine (Demerol), methadone, levorphanol, and lots of others, are referred to as synthetic opioids. They have largely replaced morphine and heroin within the treatment of severe pain.

Opiates achieve their effect on the brain because their structure closely resembles that of certain molecules called endorphins, which are naturally produced within the body. Endorphins suppress pain and enhance mood by occupying certain receptor sites on specific neurons (nerve cells) that are involved within the transmission of nervous impulses. Opiate alkaloids are ready to occupy an equivalent receptor site, thereby mimicking the consequences of endorphins in suppressing the transmission of pain impulses within the systema nervosum .


What is an Antifertility Drug?

Antifertility drugs can be defined as the chemical substances which decrease the action of hormones that promote pregnancy. These drugs actually reduce the probabilities of pregnancy and act as protection. Antifertility drugs are made from derivatives of synthetic progesterone or a mixture of derivatives of estrogen and progesterone.

Antifertility drugs are actually synthetic hormones. When progesterone pills are taken, the mucus within the cervix gets thickened. This becomes an obstruction for the sperm to enter the uterus and fertilize the egg and hence chances of pregnancy are reduced. Progesterone may be a hormone which suppresses ovulation in women. The synthetic progesterone derivatives are stronger as compared to natural progesterone. Norethindrone is an example of synthetic progesterone which is one among the foremost commonly used antifertility drugs. Ethynylestradiol may be a combination of derivatives of estrogen and progesterone.


Side Effects Antifertility Drugs

These drugs have many side effects, weight gain is the only issue known to be reported. 

These drugs are very harmful as they cause the below mentioned issues -

  • They cause interference in sexual activities and therefore the risk of pregnancy is reduced.

  • They might cause a reduction in menstrual bleeding.

  • They should not be taken immediately after childbirth.

These drugs shouldn't be taken without the consultation of a doctor. The cycle of medicine should be maintained. The chance of cancer within the uterus is increased if the pills are taken in long-term dose. They also provide protection against pelvic inflammatory diseases. Progesterone acts as an anti-inflammatory and regulates the system .

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the Disadvantages of Consuming Opium Powder Being a Drug?

Ans - These drugs are very harmful as they cause the below mentioned issues -

  • They cause interference in sexual activities and therefore the risk of pregnancy is reduced.

  • They might cause a reduction in menstrual bleeding.

  • They should not be taken immediately after childbirth.

2. From Where Opium Can be Extracted From?

Ans - Opium can be extracted by slightly incising the seed capsules of the poppy after the plant’s flower petals have fallen. The slit seed pods exude a milky latex that coagulates and changes colour, turning into a gum like brown mass upon exposure to air. This raw opium could also be ground into a powder, sold as lumps, cakes, or bricks, or treated further to get derivatives like morphine, codeine, and heroin. Opiates are the drugs obtained from it.