The California poppy is a bright yellow or orange flower native to many places in North America, and it has become common to see it on the ingredients list for many natural supplements too. The plant is mainly used for its calming and sleep-aiding health claims, for which we’ll address the clinical evidence.
The California poppy can be found in supplement capsules and tinctures, usually as part of a blend of herbs aimed at reducing anxiety. Combination supplements may include valerian or lemon balm for added calmness.
The plant has been used in folk medicine for many years for its sedative medicinal properties and is now claimed to induce calm in modern settings. People on the supplement have reported increased calm, lowered stress levels, reduction of minor aches and pains, and better sleep.
How does it work?
The plant carries a variety of compounds which may impact the body, including alkaloids that act on our GABA receptors. GABA receptors are those responding to gamma-aminobutyric acid and are spread throughout the central nervous system.
These receptors are thought to be responsible for sleep regulation, which is why drugs or natural compounds that enhance GABA receptors may be useful in modulating sleep or calmness.
As with most natural supplements, the clinical evidence for the California poppy is somewhat limited. Natural supplement studies tend to have lower budgets and smaller sample sizes, lending them to mixed or inconclusive results.
For the poppy, there are a few studies which point to its use in insomnia when taken in combination with valerian extract. A one month trial found that in 36 people with insomnia, the use of poppy and valerian supplements each night correlated with significantly improved sleep (both in measures of duration and limited interruptions).
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