Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Opium poppy

0481. Until the 1950s people would use opium poppy heads, bought from the chemist’s as a cure for toothache.
Steep the head of the poppy in boiling water in a bowl, for the relief of toothache, sores in the mouth (ulcers), headaches.
As the vapour rises the essence of the poppy head is carried up in the steam. You place your face over the bowl, with a towel over your head to keep the steam around the face, it brings relief, sometimes for quite a while, in the case of toothache, at least until you see the dentist.
It’s quite effective. I imagine it could be of use with colds and other complaints [South London Botanical 125Institute, April 1996].

Images: main, cultivated, Faversham, Kent, July 2015; upper inset, seedheads depicted on railings around the family grave of Franz von Mendelssohn (1829-1889), Holy Trinity Cemetery, Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany, April 2015; lower inset, detail of memorial to Ernest Augustus Udny, d. 16 May 1808, Chichester Cathedral, West Sussex, June 2015.