sleep maintenance insomnia

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)


California Poppy Summary

California poppy is a relative of the opium poppy that gives us morphine. This particular member contains a different set of alkaloids with similar, but milder effects.

California Poppy is the official state flower for California, but grows throughout the Southern parts of the United States.

It's main use both in modern herbal medicine and traditional herbal medicine is for treating anxiety, chronic pain, and insomnia. It's one of the strongest herbal sedatives available.


+ Indications

  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Insomnia (Sleep onset and Sleep maintenance)
  • Migraine headaches
  • Skin ulcers (Topically)
  • Substance Abuse

+ Contraindications

May interact with benzodiazepines or other sedatives (additive). Caution Advised.

Herbal Actions:

  • Analgesic
  • Antispasmodic
  • Anxiolytic
  • Nervine

How Is California Poppy Used?

California poppy is mainly used for its sedative and analgesic effects. it contains a set of alkaloids similar to morphine, though not as strong. It can be used both internally for anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain, as well as topically for skin irritations and ulcers.


Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Aerial parts

Family Name

  • Papaveraceae


  • Southern parts of The United States of America

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Constituents of Interest

  • Eschscholtzine
  • Californidine
  • Sanguinarine
  • Chelerythrine

Common Names

  • California Poppy
  • Kaliforniese papawer (Afrikaans)
  • Pavot de Californie (France)


  • CYP3A4
  • CYP2C9
  • CYP2C19
  • CYP2D6
  • CYP1A2


  • No adverse effects expected.


  • Bitter

Duration of Use

  • May be used long term.

Botanical Information

California poppy is a member of the Papaveraceae family. This family contains roughly 42 genera, and about 775 different species. The Eschscholzia genus itself contains about 12 different species.

The species, Eschscholzia californica, is very diverse, as it has been extensively bred commercially and by hobbyists as an ornamental garden flower.


Research Overview:

Still compiling research


Clinical Applications Of California Poppy:

California poppy extract enhances GABA binding and is an opioid receptor agonist. It's been shown to displace fluorazepam from the benzodiazepam receptor. This is likely the main mechanism of action for California Poppy's sedative, and analgesic effects.



  • May possess additive interaction with benzodiazepines.


Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)


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Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)


Rhodiola Overview:

Rhodiola was made famous by some earlier research done by Russian scientists in the 1960's. Although a lot of this research still hasn't been released to the public, there has been a lot fo new studies put forward to make up for this loss.

Rhodiola is well revered as an adaptogen for treating fatigue, cognitive decline, depression, and for athletic enhancement. It's considered to be a mild stimulant, though it doesn't produce the "wired" feeling many other stimulants produce. It increases energy levels and makes us more tolerant to stressful situations.

Although there is still a lot of research lacking, we know that Rhodiola can reduce cortisol levels in the body after exposure to stress, however, the details on how this interaction exists is still not well understood. There is also a great deal of confusion around which chemicals are active in the herb, some studies showing the rosavins, others tyrosol and the rhodiolasides. A result from this confusion and dispute is a wide range of differentiation between the "standardised doses" of this herb. Each manufacturer tends to have a preference for one chemical group over the other in their products.

+ Indications

  • Age-related cognitive decline
  • Altitude sickness
  • Athletic performance enhancement
  • Cancer
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic heart failure (CHF)
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • HIV
  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia (Sleep maintenance)
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Poor appetite
  • Poor concentration
  • Substance abuse

+ Contraindications

None noted.

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Adaptogen
  • CNS Stimulant (mild)
  • Antidepressant
  • Cardioprotective
  • Nootropic

Main Uses:

Rhodiola rosea is mainly used for its adaptogenic qualities, especially those specific to lowering cortisol levels. It's reliable for improving fatigue in debilitated or chronically fatigued people, as well as those experiencing generalised adaptive disorder, depression, or acute periods of extreme stress. Its a popular nootropic additive for increasing focus and mental endurance and is popular among athletes for increasing physical endurance as well.


Daily Dosage

Liquid Extract

Ratio: 2:1

2.5-6 mL

Weekly Dosage

Liquid Extract

Ratio: 2:1

20-40 mL


Part Used


Family Name



Northern Climates of North America, Asia, and Europe

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Constituents of Interest

  • Rosavin
  • Tyrosol
  • Salidroside
  • Rhodiolaside

Common Names

  • Rhodiola
  • Rose Root
  • Arctic Root
  • Golden Root
  • King's Crown

Botanical Info:

Although Rhodiola rosea is the preferred species used, their are a number of species used in various indigenous medical systems such as Rhodiola alterna, Rhodiola brevipetiolata, Rhodiola crenulata, Rhodiola kirilowii, Rhodiola quadrifida, Rhodiola sachalinensis, and Rhodiola sacra.

The Crassulaceae family contains 34 genera, and 1400 species. Most of the plants in this family can be found in cooler climates.

Another medicinal species in this family is Kalanchoe.


Level Of Research:


Clinical Applications Of Rhodiola:

Rhodiola serves as a reliable adaptogen with little to no side effects noted in any of the studies listed. It's useful for those suffering from high stress conditions, chronically fatigued, or depressed. Its also useful for increasing athletic performance in athletes, and reducing the chances of being affected by altitude sickness when travelling above 2500 metres.



Caution when using Rhodiola with mania as the mental stimulation may produce negative side effects.


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