What is opium?

What Does opium Mean

Opium is a word that derives from the Latin word opĭum and refers to a bitter substance with a powerful aroma that is used as a narcotic . Opium is obtained from the heads of green poppies : it is their dried juice.

Opium poppy ( Papaver somniferum ) is the common name by which an annual herbaceous plant similar to the common poppy is recognized . It can reach a maximum height of one and a half meters and it sports white, fuchsia or violet flowers. To extract the opium, the flowers are expected to fall off and shallow cuts are made on the head of the plant , which exudes a viscous substance of whitish hue. This liquid, when dried, turns into a sticky brownish resin that can be scraped off the head of the poppy to obtain pure opium.

Experts say that, if opium is allowed to dry out more than necessary, it transforms into a solid stone of darker color due to the loss of water and the concentration of its alkaloids : morphine, codeine, thebaine, narcotine and narcein, among others.
The ingestion of opium has several effects on the human body . Drowsiness is first experienced that continues with itching and tingling and may follow with hallucinations , nausea, and vomiting.
Opium can be smoked, taken by mouth, or drunk as an infusion. The process for smoking opium involves diluting the substance in water and heating it over low heat, then filtering it and reheating it until the water evaporates. It should be noted that, due to its harmful effects on the body, the marketing and possession of opium is prohibited in most countries.
In some South American countries, the term opium is used to refer to something very boring : "This party is an opium: we'd better change the channel and look at something else . "
The Opium War
It is known under this name a conflict that broke out during the years 1839 and 1842 between China and Great Britain, whose origin was related to the beginning of the commercialization of opium in China ; it was sold by the British government that then dominated the East Indies, where it was grown.
For the British, the sale of opium represented an important source of income, through which they could offset the immense expense that for them imported tea from China. However, the Chinese government did not agree with this commercialization and prohibited the sale and consumption of this narcotic in the territory.

Both the British government and the representatives of the Indian trade , sent emissaries to China in order to reach an agreement to lift this ban, which implied an immense loss for them; however, they did not obtain favorable results.
Under the circumstances, the British government sent state-of-the-art war fleets that were easily killed by the Chinese squad, whose characteristics were quite poor. Everything concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Nanking , which the Chinese emperor could not oppose, after the defeat suffered. In it, the government was obliged to respect the laws of free trade between that country and England, including opium among all products. In addition, they ceded Hong Kong Island to the British government for 150 years .
It is worth mentioning that the consequences of this conflict were quite extensive. As of the imposed signing of the treaty, other nations saw the space to put pressure on the Chinese Empire forcing it to sign treaties of unequal characteristics , which were undermining the sovereignty of this country over its own territory.

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