1902 Encyclopedia > Opium

Opium




OPIUM (opion [Gk.], dim. from opos [Gk.], juice), a narcotic drug prepared from the juice of the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, L., a plant probably indigenous in the south of Europe and western Asia, but now so widely cultivated that its original habitat is uncertain.

Opium poppy image


The medicinal properties of the juice have been recognized from a very early period. It was known to Theophrastus by the name of mekonion [Gk.], and appears in his time to have consisted of an extract of the whole plant, since Dioscorides about 77 A. D. draws a distinction between mekoneion [Gk.], which he describes as an extract of the entire herb, and the more active opos [Gk.], derived from the capsules alone. From the 1st to the 12th century the opium of Asia Minor appears to have been the only kind known in commerce. In the 13th century opium thebaicum is mentioned by Simon Januensis, physician to Pope Nicholas IV., while meconium was still in use. In the 16th century opium is mentioned by Pyres (1516) as a production of the kingdom of Cous (Kuch Behar, south-west of Bhutan) in Bengal and Malwa. [Footnote 787-1] Its introduction into India appears to have been connected with the spread of Islam. The opium monopoly was the property of the Great Mogul and was regularly sold. In the 17th century Kaempfer describes the various kinds of opium prepared in Persia, and states that the best sorts were flavoured with spices and called "theriaka." These preparations were held in great estimation during the Middle Ages, and probably supplied to a large extent the place of the pure drug. Opium is said to have been introduced into China, probably by the Arabs (1280-95), during the reign of Taitsu, and its use seems to have temporarily ceased in 1368. It appears to have been commonly used in that country as a medicine before the trade with India commenced. [Footnote 788-1] In a Chinese herbal compiled more than two centuries ago both the plant and its inspissated juice are describe, together with the mode of collecting it, and in the General History fo the Southern Provinces of Yunnan, revised and republished in 1736, opium is noticed as a common product. Up to this date, however, it was imported in comparatively small quantity by the Chinese solely as a remedy for dysentery, diarrhaea, and fevers, and was usually brought from India by junks as a return cargo. In the year 1757 the monopoly of opium cultivation passed into the hands of the East India Company took the trade under their own charge, and in 1776 the annual export reached 1000 chests, and 4054 chests in 1790. Although the importation was forbidden by the Chinese emperor Keaking in 1796, and opium-smoking punished with severe penalties, which were ultimately increased to transportation and death, the trade continued and had increased during 1820-30 to 16,877 chests per annum. In 1839 a proclamation was issued threatening hostile measures if the English opium ships serving as depots were not sent away. The demand for removal not being complied with, 20,291 chests of opium (of 149 1/3 lb each), valued at £2,000,000, were destroyed by the Chinese commissioner Lin ; but still the British sought to smuggle cargoes on shore, and some outrages committed on both sides led to an open war, which was ended by the treaty of Nanking in 1842 (See CHINA, vol. v. p. 651). From that time to the present, in spite of he remonstrances of the Chinese Government, the exportation of opium from India to China has continued, having increased from 52,925 piculs (of 133 1/3 lb) in 1850 to 96,839 piculs in 1880. It appears to be certain, however, that, while the court of Peking was endeavouring to suppress the foreign trade in opium from 1796 to 1840, it did not or could not put a stop to the home cultivation of the drug, since a Chinese censor in 1830 represented to the throne that the poppy was grown over one-half of the province of Chekeang, and in 1836 another, Cho Tsun, stated that the annual produced of opium inYunnan could not be less than several thousand piculs. At present it is estimated that south-western China, including Szechuen, produces not less than 224,000 piculs while the entire import from India does not exceed 100,000 piculs. Opium is now produced in nine out of the eighteen provinces of China. The comparative cheapness of the Chinese opium, the lighter duties levied upon it, and the increasing care take in its cultivation are enabling it to complete successfully with the Indian drug even in eastern China, where, however, it has hitherto been chiefly used to mix with and cheapen the foreign article. A time is confidently anticipated by the Chinese when Indian opium will be entirely supplanted by the native drug. See Commercial Reports, China, No. 2 (1881), p. 138.

The amount of opium imported into Great Britain in 1861, 1871, and 1881 was 284,005, 591,466, and 793,146 lb respectively, and the exports for the same years 290,120, 307,399, and 401,883 lb.

Production and Commerce.—Although the collection of opium is possible in all places where there is not an excessive rainfall and the climate is temperate or subtropical, the yields is smaller in temperate than in tropical regions, and the industry can only be profitably carried on where labour and land are sufficiently cheap and abundant; hence production on a large scale is limited to comparatively few countries. The varieties of poppy grown, the mode of cultivation adopted, and the character of the opium produced differ so greatly that it will be convenient to consider the opiums of each country separately.

Turkey.—The poppy cultivated in Asia Minor is the variety glabrum, Boisseir, distinguished by the sub-globular shape of the capsule and by the stigmata of rays at the top of the fruit being ten or twelve in number. The flowers are usually of purplish colour, but are sometimes white, and the seeds, like the petals, vary in tint from dark violet to white. The cultivation is carried on, both on the more elevated and lower lands, chiefly by peasant proprietors. A naturally light and rich soil, further improved by manure, is necessary, and moisture is indispensable, although injurious in excess so that after a wet winter the best crops are obtained on hilly ground, the second time crosswise, so that it may be thoroughly pulverized ; and the seed, mixed with four times its quantity of sand, to prevent its being sown too thickly, is scattered broadcast about 3/4 to 1 lb being used for every toloom (1600) square yards). The crop is very uncertain owing to droughts, spring frosts, and locusts, and, in order to avoid a total failure and to allow time for collecting the produce, there are three sowings at intervals from October to March,—the crops thus coming to perfection in succession. But notwithstanding these precautions quantities of the drug are wasted when the crop is a full one, owing to the difficulty of gathering the whole in the short time during which collection is possible. The first sowing produces the hardiest plants, the yield of the other two depending almost entirely on favourable weather. In localities where there is hoar front in autumn and spring the seed is sown in September or at latest in the beginning of October, and the yield of opium and seed is then greater than if sown later. After sowing, the land is horrowed, and the young plants are hoed and weeded, chiefly by women and children, from early spring until the time of flowering. In the plains the flowers expand at the end of May, on the uplands in July. At this period gentle showers are of great value, as they cause an increase in the subsequent yield of opium. The petals fall in a few hours, and the capsules grow so rapidly that in a short time—generally from nine to fifteen days—the opium is fit for collection. This period is known by the capsules yielding to pressure with the fingers, assuming a lighter green tint, and exhibiting a kind of bloom called "cougak," easily rubbed off with the fingers ; they are then about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. The incisions are made by holding the capsule in the left hand and drawing a knife two-thirds round it, or spirally beyond the starting-point (see fig. 2, a, p. 790), great care being taken not to let the incisions penetrate to the interior lest the juice should flow inside and be lost. (In this case also it is said that the seeds will not ripen, and that no oil can be obtained from them.) The operation is usually performed after the heat of the day, commencing early in the afternoon and continuing to nightfall, and the exuded juice is collected the next morning. This is done by scarping the capsule with a knife and transferring the concreted juice to a poppy-leaf held in the left hand, the edges of the leaf being turned in to avoid spilling the juice, and the knife-blade moistened with saliva by drawing it through the mouth after every alternative scraping to prevent the juice from adhering to it. When as much opium has been collected as the size of the leaf will allow, another leaf is wrapped over the top of the lump, which is then placed in the shade to dry for several days. The pieces vary in size from about 2 oz. to over 2 lb, being made larger in some districts then in others. The capsules are generally incised only once, but the fields are visited a second or third time to collect the opium from the poppy-heads subsequently developed by the branching of the stem. The yield of opium varies, even on the same piece of land, from 1/3 to 7 1/2 chequis (of 1·62 lb) per toloom (1600 square yards), the average being 1 1/2 chequis of opium and 4 bushels (of 50 lb) of seed. The seed, which yields 35 to 42 per cent. of oil, is worth about two-thirds of the value of the opium. The whole of the operation must, of course, be completed in the few days—five to ten—during which the capsules are capable of yielding the drug. A cold wind or a chilly atmosphere at the time of collection lessens the yield, and rain washes the opium off the capsules. Before the crop is all gathered in a meeting of buyers and sellers takes place in each district, at which the price to be asked is discussed and settled, and the opium handed to the buyers, who in many instances have advanced money on the standing crop. When sufficiently solid the pieces of opium are packed in cotton bags, a quantity of the fruits of a species of Rumex being thrown in to prevent the cakes from adhering together. The bags are then sealed up, packed in oblong or circular baskets, and sent to Smyrna or other parts on mules. On the arrival of the opium at its destination, in the end of July or beginning of August, it is placed in cool warehouse to avoid loss of weight until sold. When transferred to the buyer’s warehouse the bags are opened and each piece is examined by a public inspector in the presence of both buyer and seller, the quality of the opium being judged by appearance, odour, colour, and weight. It is then sorted into three qualities:—(1) finest quality ; (2) current or second ; (3) chicanti or rejected pieces. A fourth sort consists of the very bad or wholly factitious pieces. The substances used to adulterate opium are grape-juice thickened with flour, fig-paste, liquorice, half-dried apricots, inferior gum tragacanth, and sometimes clay or pieces of lead or other metals. The chicanti is returned to the seller, who disposes of it at 20 to 30 per cent. discount to French and German merchants for the manufacture of morphia. After inspection the opium is hermetically sealed in tin-lined boxes containing about 150 lb. Turkey opium is principally used in medicine on account of its purity and the large percentage of morphia that is contains, a comparatively small quantity being exported to China.

A number of varieties exist in commerce, differing in certain qualities, and, to a certain extent, in external character. These are generally exported under the names of the districts where they are prepared, but are ore generally known in English commerce by the name of the port from which they are shipped. Thus, Constantinople opium includes the produce of Bogaditz, Karahissar Sahib, Kutchaya, Balukhissar, Kurkagatsch, Ghéve, Beybazar, Angora, Malatia, and Tokat, as well as Macedonian opium from Salonica. Smyrna opium comprises opium from Afium Karahissar, Ushak, Akhissar, Tanshauli, Isbarta, Koniyeh, Bulladan, Hamid, and Magnesia, and the Yerli [Footnote 789-1] varieties. In English commerce these are roughly divided into shipping, druggist’s, and manufacturer’s opium.

Shipping opium includes varieties of a pale or yellowish colour internally, of a soft consistence, and free from poppy débris, &c., or "chaff," as it is technically called. Such opium affords a large amount of extract, and leaves very little insoluble residue when dissolved in water, and on this account is preferred in countries where opium-smoking or eating is practised. The principal varieties used for this purpose are Malatia (including that of Kharput), Tokat, Salonica, Balukhissar (including the produce of Kurkagatsch), Bogaditz, and the finest qualities of Angora and Yeril. The chief markets are China, Peru, the West India Islands, British Guiana, and Brazil; and the United States also purchase the same kinds of reshipment.

Druggist’s opium includes the varieties purchased for use in generally of firmer consistence and rather darker colour than shipping opium. The finest varieties of this kind in English commerce are Beybazar, Yerli Karahissar (including Adet, Amasia, and Akhissar opiums), "Current" Smyrna, and Angpra/ Ushak, Yerli, and Karahissar opiums are purchased chiefly for the American market, and the Ghéve or Ismid opium for the Continental.

Manufacturer’s opium includes chicanti or low-priced qualities of all varieties, and is used only for the manufacture of morphia. Persian opium is used for his purpose when Turkey opium is dear.

Malatia opium usually occurs in pieces of irregular shape, weighting from 1 1/2 to 3 lb, and about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, the "paste" or substance being soft and pale and remarkably free from foreign matter or "chaff," and the exterior being covered with a bright bluish green leaf ; the paste of Tokat is similar, but usually of thinner consistence and darker colour. Bogaditz opium is met with in smaller pieces, usually 2 to 3 oz., and is covered with a yellowish green leaf, the surface being rough with Rumex fruit. Occasionally, however, pieces are met with from 1 to 1 1/2 lb in weight, still more rarely up to 4 lb in weight, approaching more nearly to the Balukhissar and Kurkagatsch varieties, which are usually similar to the Bogaditz, but in larger pieces. Karahissar opium is in rather large conical lumps ; formerly the pieces frequently bore the impress of a poppy-head pressed into the top. The Adet, Akhissar, and Amasia opiums are very similar in appearance, and usually pass under the name of Karahissar. Angora opium usually occurs in small pieces carelessly prepared, so as to be rough and unsightly in appearance although of good quality. Occasionally samples of good colour, soft consistency, and excellent quality are met with, and these are always used as shipping opium. Yerli is a fine pasty or gummy opium, with a rough surface and with much Rumex fruit adhering to it. Ghéve or Ismid [Footnote 789-2] opium is usually in small rounded cakes, weighing about 2 to 3 oz. in weight. The pieces, known in trade as "Constantinople pats," have a smooth shining appearance, with the midrib of the poppy-leaf they are wrapped in forming a median line on the surface. The interior often shows layers of light and dark colour. Yoghourna is a very inferior opium, and, as its name implies, is remade" or made up at the port of shipment. It is usually sold to morphia manufacturers at a price determined by analysis.

In Macedonia opium culture was commenced in 1865 at Istip, with seed obtained from Karahissar in Asia Minor, and has since extended to the adjacent districts of Kotchava, Stoumnitza, Tikvish, and Kinprulu-veles. The crop in 1882 was 135, 000 lb of opium and 500,000 to 600,000 lb of seed, most of the drug being exported under the name of Salonica opium to Great Britain at prices ranging from 12s. 6d. to 16s. per lb Macadonian opium, especially that produced at Istip, is very pure, yielding about 11 per cent. of morphia, and is considered equal to the Malatia produced. The Turkish Government encourage the development of the industry by remitting the tithes on opium and poppy-seed for one year on lands sown for the first time and by distributing printed instructions for cultivating the poppy and preparing the opium. In these directions it is pointed out that the opium crop is ten times as profitable as that of wheat. Four varieties of poppy are distinguished,—two with white flowers, large oval capsules without holes under their "combs" (stigmas), and bearing respectively yellow and white seed, and the other two having red or purple flowers and seeds of the same colour, one bearing small capsules perforated at the top, and the other larger oval capsules not perforated. The white varieties are recommended as yielding a more abundant opium of superior quality. The yellow seed is said to yield the best oil ; that obtained by hot pressure is used for lamps and for plant, and the cold-pressed oil for culinary purposes.





Opium is also grown in Bulgaria, but almost entirely for home consumption ; any surplus produced is, however, bought by Jews and Turks at low prices and sent to Constantinople, where it is sold as Turkish opium. It is produced in the districts of Kustendil, Lowtscha, and Halitz, and is made into lumps weighing about 4 oz., of a light-brown colour internally. And containing a few seeds ; it is covered with leaves which have not been identified. Samples that have been analysed by Herr Theegarten have yielded from 7 to 19 per cent. of morphia, and only 2 to 3 per cent. of ash, and are therefore of excellent quality.

India.—The poppy grown in India is generally the same as that used in Persia, but in the Himalayas a red-flowered variety with black seeds is met with. The largest amount of opium is produced in the central tract of the Ganges, extending from Dinajpur in the east to Agra in the west, and from Gorakhpur in the north to Hazaribagh in the south, and comprising an area of about 600 miles long by 200 broad. The region next in importance consists of the tableland of Malwa and the slopes of the Vindhay Hills is Indore .

The opium industry in Bengal is a Government monopoly, and the districts are divided into two agencies, Behar and Benares which are under the control of officials residing respectively at Patna and Ghazipur. In 1883, 463,829 acres were under poppy cultivation in the Behar agency, and 412,625 in that of Benares. Any one who chooses may undertake the industry, but cultivators are obliged to sell the opium exclusively to the Government agent at a price fixed beforehand by the latter, which is approximately 3s. 6d. per lb, the Government selling it at about 11s. per lb. The peasant is, however, said to be fully remunerated by the price he receives. It is considered that with greater freedom the cultivator would produce too great a quantity, and loss to the Government would soon result. Advances of money are often made by the Government to enable the ryots to grow the poppy.

In Malwa the cultivation is free and extremely profitable, the crop realizing usually from three to seven times the value of wheat or other cereals, and in exceptionally advantageous situations from twelve to twenty times as much. On its entering British territory a heavy duty is imposed on Malwa opium, so as to raise its price to an equality with the Government article. The tax was formerly collected at Indore only, but since other stations have been made at Ujjain, Jaora, and Udaipur the export has increased to 500 chests a month. Malwas opium is shipped from Bombay. [Footnote 789-3]

The are under poppy cultivation outside these districts is comparatively small, but it appears to be increasing throughout the plains of the Punjab. The poppy is grown for opium, according to Stewart (Punjaub Plants, Lahore, 1869, p. 10), in the valley of the Bias east of Lahore. It is cultivated up to 7500 feet above sea-level, the opium of Kulu in this district being considered of excellent quality. In Nepal, Bashahr, and Rampur, and at Doda Kashtwar in the Jammu territory, opium is produced and exported to Yarkand, Khotan, Aksu, and various Chinese provinces.

Opium poppy capsules image


The land intended for poppy culture is usually selected near villages, in order that it may be easily manured and irrigated. On a rich soil a crop of maize or vegetable is grown during the rainy season, and after its removal in September the ground is prepared for the poppy-culture. Under less favourable circumstances the land is prepared from July till October by ploughing, weeding, and manuring. The seed is sown between the 1st and 15th of November, and germinates in ten or fifteen days. The fields are divided for purposes of irrigation into beds about 10 feet square, which usually are irrigated twice between November and February, but if the season be cold, with hardly any rain, the operation is repeated five or six times. When the seedlings are 2 ro 3 inches high they are thinned out and weeded. The plants during growth are liable to injury by severe frost, excessive rain, insects, fungi and the growth of a root-parasite (Orobanche indica). The poppy blossoms about the middle of Febuary, and the petals when about to fall are collected for the purpose of making "leaves" for the spherical coverings earthen plate over a slow fire, and spreading the petals, a few at a time, over its surface. As the juice exudes, more petals are pressed on to them with a cloth until a layer of sufficient thickness is obtained. The leaves are forwarded to the opium-factories, where they are sorted into the into three classes, according to size and colour, the smaller and dark-coloured being reserved for the inside of the shells of the opium-balls, and the larger and least coloured for the outside. These are valued respectively at 10 to 7 and 5 rupees per maund of 82 2/7 lb. The collection of opium commences in Behar about 25th February, and continues to about 25th March, but in Malwa is performed in March and April. The capsules are scarified vertically (fig. 2, b) in most districts, (although in some the incisions are made horizontally, as in Asia Minor), the "nushtur" or cutting instrument being drawn twice upwards for each incission, and repeated (fig. 2, c) consists of three to five flattened blades forked at the larger end, and separated about one-sixteenth of an inch from each other by winding cotton thread between them, the whole being also bound together by thread, and the protrusion of the points being restricted to one-twelfth of an inc, by which the depth of the incision is limited. The operation is usually performed about three or four o’clock in the afternoon, and the opium collected to next morning. In Bengal a small sheet-iron scoop or "seetoah" is used for scrapping off the died juice, and, as it becomes filled, the opium is emptied into an earthen pot carried for the purpose. In Malwa a flat scraper is employed, a small pieces of cotton soaked in linseed oil being attached to the upper part of the blade, and used for smearing the thumb and edge of the scraper to prevent adhesion of the juice; sometimes water is used instead of oil, but both practices injure the quality of the product. Sometimes the opium is in a fluid state by reason of dew, and in some places it is rendered still more so by the practice adopted by collectors of washing their scrapers, and adding the washings to the morning’s collection. The juice, when brought home, is consequently a wet granular mass of pinkish colour, from which a dark fluid drains to the bottom of the vessel. In order to get rid of this fluid, called "pasewa" or "pussewah," the opium is placed in a shallow earthen vessel titled on one side, and the pussewah drained off. The residual mass is then exposed to the air in the shade, and regularly turned over every few days, until it has reached the proper consistence, which takes place in about three or four weeks. The drug is then taken to the Government factory to be sold. It is turned out of the pots into wide tin vessels or "tagars," in which it is weighed in quantities not exceeding 21 lb. It is then examined by a native expert (purkhea) as to impurities, colour, fracture aroma, and consistence. To determine the amount of moisture, which should not exceed 30 per cent., a weighed sample is evaporated and dried in a plate on a metallic surface heated by steam. Adulterations such as mud, sand, powdered charcoal, soot, cow-dung, powdered poppy petals, and powdered seeds of various kinds are easily detected by breaking up the drug in cold water. Flour, potato-flour, ghee, and ghoor (crude date-sugar) are revealed by their odour and the consistence they impart. Various other adulterants are sometimes used, such as the inspissated juice of the prickly pear, extracts from tobacco, stramonium, and hemp, pulp of the tamarind and bael fruit, mahwah flowers, and gums of different kinds. The price paid to the cultivator is regulated chiefly by the amount of water contained in the drug. When received into the Government stores the opium is kept in large wooden boxes holding about 50 maunds and occasionally stirred up, if only a little below the standard. If containing much water it is placed in shallow wooden drawers and constantly turned over. During the process it deepens in colour. From the store about 250 maunds are taken daily to be manufactured into cakes.

Various portions, each weighing 10 sers (of 2 1/10 lb), are selected by test assay so as to ensure the mass being of standard consistence (70 per cent. of the pure dry drug and 30 per cent. of water), and are thrown into shallow drawers and kneaded together. The mass is then packed into boxes all of size, and a specimen of each again assayed, the mean of the whole being taken as the average. Before evening these boxes are emptied into wooden vats 20 feet long, 3 1/2 feet wide, and 1 3/4 feet deep, and the opium further kneaded and mixed by men wading through it from end to end until it appears to be of a uniform consistence. Next morning the manufacture of the opium into balls commences. The workman sits on a wooden stand, with a brass cup before him, which he lines with the leaves of poppy petals before-mentioned until the thickness of half an inch is reached, a few being allowed to hang over the cup ; the leaves are agglutinated by means of "lewa," a pasty fluid which consists of mixture of inferior opium, 8 per cent. of pasewa, and the "dhoe" or washings of the vessels that have contained opium, and the whole is made of such consistence that 100 grains evaporated to dryness over a water-bath leave 53 grains of solid residue. All the ingredients for the opium-ball are furnished to the workmen by measure. When the inside of the brass cup is ready a ball of opium weighed is placed on the leafy case in it, and the upper half of it covered with leaves in the same way that the casing for the lower half was made, the overhanging leaves of the lower half being upwards and the sphere completed by one large leaf which is placed over the upper half. The ball, which resembles a Dutch cheese in size and shape, is now rolled in "poppy trash" made from the coarsely-powdered leaves, capsules, and stalks of the poppy plant, and is placed in an earthen cup of the same size as the brass one ; the cups are then placed in dishes and the opium exposed to the sun to dry for three days, being constantly and examined. If it becomes distended the ball is pierced to liberate the gas and again lightly closed. On the third evening the cups are placed in open frames which allow free circulation of the air. This operation is usually completed by the end of July. The balls thus made consist on the average of—

Opium (table)


The average number of cakes that can be made daily by one man is about 70, although 90 to 100 are sometimes turned out by clever workmen. The cakes are liable to become mildewed, and require constant turning and occasional rubbing in dry "poppy trash" to remove the mildew, and strengthening in week places with fresh poppy leaves. By October the cakes are dry and fairly solid, and are then packed in chests, which are divided into two tiers of twenty square compartments for the reception of as many cakes, which are steadied by a packing loose poppy trash. [Footnote 790-1] Each case contains about 120 catties (about 160 lb). The chests need to be kept in a dry warehouse for a length of time, but ultimately the opium ceases to lose moisture to the shell, and the latter becomes extremely solid. This is known as "provision" opium.

For home consumption Bengal opium is prepared in a different shape, and is known as Abkari or excisable opium. It is exposed to the heat of the sun until it contains ony 10 per cent. of moisture, and is then formed into square cakes of 2 lb each, which are wrapped in oiled paper, or it is made into flat square tablets. In this form it has not the aroma of the ball-opium.

The care bestowed on the selection and preparation of the drug in the Bengal opium-factories is such that the merchants who purchases it rarely require to examine it, although permission is given to open at each sale any number of chests or cakes that they may desire.

In Malwa the opium is manufactured by private enterprise, the Government levying an export duty of 600 rupees (£60) per chest. It is not made into balls but into rectangular or rounded masses, and is not cased in poppy petals. It contains as much as 95 per cent. of dry opium, but it of much less uniform quality than the Bengal drug, and having no gua rantee as to purity, is not considered so valuable. The cultivation in Malwa does not differ in any important particular from that in Bengal. The opium is collected in March and April, and the crude drug or "chick" is thrown into an earthen vessel and covered with linseed oil to prevent evaporation. In this state it is sold to itinerant dealers. It is afterwards tied up in quantities of 25 lb and 50 lb in double bags of sheeting, which are suspended to a ceiling out of the light and draught to allow the excess of oil to drain off. This takes place in seven to then days, but the bags are left for four to six weeks until the oil remaining on the opium has become oxidized and hardened. In June and July, when the rains begin, the bags are taken down and emptied into shallow vats 10 to 15 feet across, and 6 to 8 inches deep, in which the opium is kneaded until uniform in colour and consistence and tough enough to be formed into cakes of 8 or 10 ounces in weight. These are thrown into a basket containing chaff made from the capsules. They are then rolled in broken leaves and stalks of the poppy and left, with occasional turning, for a week or so, when they become hard enough to bear packing. In October and November they are weighed and sent to market, packed in chests containing as nearly as possible 1 picul = 133 1/3 lb, the petals and leaves of the poppy being used as packing materials. The production is said to about 20,000 chests annually.





The amount of opium revenue collected in India was £10,480,051 in 1881. It is remarkable fact that the only Indian opium ever seen in England is an occasional sample of the Malwa sort, whilst the Government monopoly opium is quite unknown ; indeed, the whole of the opium used in medicine in Europe and the United States is obtained from Turkey. This is in some measure due to the fact that Indian opium contains less morphia. It has recently been shown, however, that opium grown in the hilly districts of the Himalayas yields 50 per cent. More morphia than that of the plains, and that the deficiency of morphia in the Indian drug is due, in some measure, to the long exposure to the air in a semi-liquid state which it undergoes. In view, therefore, of the probable decline in the Chinese demand, the cultivation of the drug for the European market int he hilly districts of India, and its preparation after the mode adopted in Turkey, viz., by drying the concrete juice as quickly as possible, might be worthy of the consideration of the British Government.

Persia.—The variety of poppy grown in Persia appears to be P. somniferum, var. [gamma]. album (P. officinale, Gm), having roundish ovate capsules. It is most largely produced in the districts of Ispahan, Shiraz, Yezd, and Khonsar, and to a less extent in those of Khorasan, Kermanshah, and Fars. The Yezd opium is considered better than that of Ispahan, but the strongest or Theriak-e-Arabistani is produced in the neighbourhood of Dizful and Shuster, east of the river Tigris. Good opium is also produced about Sari and Balfarush in the province of Mazanderan. The capsules are incised vertically, or in some districts vertical cuts with diagonal branches are made. The crop is collected in May and June and reaches the ports for exportation between September and January. Although the cultivation of opium in Persia was probably carried on at an earlier date than in India, Persian opium was almost unknown in England until about the year 1870, except in the form of the inferior quality known as "Trebizond," which usually contains only 0·2 to 3 per cent. of morphia. This opium is in the form of cylindrical sticks about 6 inches long and half an inch in diameter, wrapped in waxed paper. Since 1870 Persian opium has been largely exported from Bushire and Bandar-Abbas in the Persian Gulf to London, the Straits Settlements, and China. At that date the annual yield is said not to have exceeded 2600 cases ; but, the profits on opium having about that time attracted attention, all available ground was utilized for this to the exclusion of cereals, cotton, and other produced. The results was a severe famine in 1871-72, which was further aggravated by drought and other circumstances. Not withstanding the lesson thus taught, the cultivation is being extended every year, especially in Ispahan, which abounds in streams and rivers, an advantages in which Yezd is deficient. About Shiraz, Behbehan, and Kermanshah it now occupies much of the land, and has consequently affected the price and growth of cereals. The trade—only 300 chests in 1859—gradually increased until 1877, when the Persian opium was much adulterated with glucose. The baby losses on this inferior opium and the higher prices obtained for the genuine article led to a great improvement in its preparation, and in 1880 the export had increased to 7700 chests. About five-sixths of this total finds its way to the Chinese market, by sea, although some is carried overland through Bokhara, Khokand, and Kashgar ; a considerable quantity is exported by way of Trebizond and Samsun to Constantinople, and the remainder to Great Britain. The produce of Ispahan and Fars is carried for exportation to Bushire, and that of Khorasan and Kirman and Yezd partly to Bushire and partly to Band-Abbas. The Shuster opium is sent partly via Bushire to Muscat for transshipment to Zanzibar, and part is believed to be smuggled into India by way of Baluchistan and Mekran. Smaller quantities grown in Teheran, Tabriz, and Kermanshah find their way to Smyrna, where it is mixed with the local drug for the European market the same practice being carried on at Constantinople with the Persian opium that arrives there from Samsun and Trebizond. For the Chinese market the opium is usually packed in chests containing 10 1/2 shahmans (of 13 1/2 lb), so that on arrival it may weigh 1 Chinese picul (= 133 1/3 lb), 5 to 10 per cent. being allowed for loss by drying. At Ispahan, Shiraz, and Yezd the drug, after being dried in the sun, is mixed with oil in the proportion of 6 or 7 lb to 141 lb of opium, with the object, it is said, of suiting the taste of the Chinese,—that intended for the London market being usually free from oil.

Persian opium, as met with in the London market, occurs in several forms, the most common being that of broad rounded cones weighing 6 to 10 oz. or more, or rarely twice that size. These are packed in poppy trash, or are wrapped separately in paper, or sometimes in poppy, fig, or vine leaves. Ispahan opium also occurs in the from of parallelepipeds weighing about 16 to 20 oz. ; sometimes flat circular pieces weighing about 20. are met with. The opium is usually of much firmer and smoother consistence than that of Turkey, of a chocolate-brown colour and cheesy appearance, the pieces bearing evidence of having been beaten into a uniform mass previously to being made into lumps. The odour differs but slightly, except in oily specimens, from that of Turkey opium. Great care is now taken to prevent adulteration, and consequently Persian opium can be obtained nearly as rich in morphia as the Turkish drug,—on the average from 8 to 12 per cent. The greater proportion of the Persian imported into London is again exported, a comparatively small quantity being used, chiefly for the manufacture of morphia when Turkey opium is dear, and a little in veterinary practice. According to Dr Reveil, Persian opium usually contains 75 to 84 per cent. of matter soluble in water, and some samples contain from 13 to 30 per cent. of glucose.

China.—The variety of poppy grown in China appears to be chiefly the P. somniferum, var. [gamma] album, especially in the low lands, but red and purple varieties are also met with. The production is principally carried on in the south-western provinces of Szechuen, Yunnan, and Kweichow. It is grown to a less in Shanse, Shense and Shantung in the north, as well as in eastern Mongolia and north-eastern Manchuria and Shingking ; but in these provinces the richest soil and the utmost care are necessary to ensure the success of the crop, and the area under opium cannot be greatly extended. Formerly the provinces of Shense produced 30 per cent. of the native product, but sine the famine caused by the neglect of cereals for opium the extension of the cultivation has been rigidly prohibited in Shense, Honan, and Chihli. In Kwangtung the soil and climate have been found unsuitable, and in Fuhkeen sugar proves equally remunerative, if not more so. There can be no question, however, that, as already stated, the cultivation of the poppy’s is extending rapidly, in spite of prohibitory edicts issued from time ; four fifths of the opium at present used in China is home-grown. According to Consul Spence’s report (1882) the poppy is cultivated chiefly on land near villages where manure and labour can be easily obtained. As soon as the summer crop has been the reaped the land is ploughed and cleaned, roots and weeds are burnt and the resulting ashes scattered over the ground, and dressing of night-soil are liberally applied. The seeds are sown in November and December in drills 18 inches apart. In January, when the plants are a few inches high, the rows are thinned and earthed up so as leave a free passage between. The ground is afterwards weeded occasionally and the earth stirred up. The poppy blooms in March or April, according to the situation. As soon as the capsules begin to form, dressings of liquid manure are given, and in April and May of the opium is collected. Vertically incisions are made in the capsules as in India. In some districts, however, a vertical shaving appears to be taken off the surface of the capsule. The excreted juice is scraped off and transferred to a small pot suspended at the waist. The mode of preparation for the market has not been described, but, from the occasional samples that have been sent to England, the opium appears to have undergone manipulation, since it has a uniform pasty consistence and is without any trace of the granular structure indicative of unmixed opium like that of Turkey. The colour is darker and the consistence softer than that of Persian opium, but the odour is good. Some of the Szechuen opium appears to have been mixed with oil. The Yunnan and Szechuen opiums are made into flat cakes, and are wrapped in white paper. Chekeang opium is in the form of treacly. Extract, and is sold in jars containing 2 to 4 lb. The yield of opium is calculated at 350 oz. per acre The Shense drug is highly esteemed because it has a flavour resembling the Patna kind and gives 85 to 90 per cent. of extract. Yunnan opium comes next and Szechuen third in value.

The use of foreign opium by the Chinese bears some relation to its introduction, which was in the following order,—Patna, Malwa Benares, and Persian. Thus the Patna opium is preferred along the south-eastern coast as far north as the Yangtsze river, except in the district about Ningpo. Malwa is chiefly consumed in the northern provinces, including part of Kwangtung. Kwangse, Keangse, and Ganhwuy, while Benares is the favourite kind in Formosa and some parts of Fuhkeen. Persian replaces the Malwa to a limited extend on account of its lower price; it goes principally to the province of Kwangse. Malwa opium is reputed to have a strong flavour and biting taste, and to be more stimulating ; it is said to cause heartburn in those unaccustomed to its use, to induce an unhealthy action of the skin, and to prove irritating to the nervous system. Patna is considered mild but narcotic. Persian is also reckoned hot and acrid, and apt to cause dysentery. In some respects the native opium is comparable to the Malwa, having a coarser and more fiery flavour than the Patna, and also has the disadvantage of causing troublesome eruptions on the skin. It is said to be frequently adulterated with seaweed, jelly, oil, &c. It seems worthy of inquiry how far this difference of flavour and action may be due to the oil with which both Malwa and Chinese opiums are often prepared. The native opium is said to have the advantage comparative ease, which is not the case with the Indian drug.

Egypt.—The variety grown in Egypt is the same as in Asia Minor. The cultivation is carried on in Upper Egypt near Esneh, Kenneh, and Siout. The capsules are incised in March by drawing a knife twice and round them horizontally. The concreted juice is scraped off next day by a scoop-knife, collected on a leaf, and placed in the shade to harden. Good samples, which are of rare occurrence, yield 9 to 12 percent. of morphia ; but, as a rule the plant is grown in too moist a soil, scarification is not always performed at the right date, and adulteration is extensively practiced so that the average yield of morphia is only 3 to 4 per cent. As met with in English commerce Egyptian opium is in the form of hard, flat, circular cakes about 4 inches in diameter, covered with poppy and other leaves, but free from the Rumex fruits usually seen on Turkey opium. The fracture is porous, dark liver-coloured, with shining embedded particles and reddish yellow points, and occasionally starchy granules. The total amount exported in 1879 was valued at £2310, of which there was sent to Italy £990, France £630, Greece £540, and Turkey £150. It is not now regularly imported into Britain owing to its inferior quality. M. Gastinel found that, when cultivated in his garden at Cairo, the poppies yielded 10 to 12 per cent. of morphia when the capsules were nearly ripe, while opium collected immediately after the flowering was over contained only 3 to 4 per cent.

Algeria.—Opium has been grown in Algeria, but this kind is not known in Engish commerce.

Mozambique.—A company was established in Lisbon in 1877, with a grant of 50,000 acres of land in Mozambique, and certain exclusive privileges ; the cultivation was commenced in 1879 and was carried on at Chaima between the Mulo and Quaqua rivers, was carried on at Chaima between the Mulo and Quaqua rivers. The ground has been sown with Malwa seed, the plants thrive well, and the capsules are larger than those grown in India. The collection of opium is made about seventy-five days after the seed has been sown, and the yield compares favourably with that obtained in India. It is said to be mixed on the spot with 80 to 100 per cent. of a special matter known only to the cultivators. The mixture is made into balls weighing about 1lb ; these are packed in boxes with poppy trash and covered with a layer of indigenous cotton. The yield from the first crop amounted only to a few pounds, and upon examination proved to be moderate quality only. It was of soft consistence, brownish colour, and yielded 4 per cent. morphia and 4·3 per cent. of narcotin, and 40·9 per cent. of moisture. In 1884 specimens were sent to the London market in the form of spherical balls, having the size and general appearance of Malwa and evidently intended to compete with it in the Chinese market.

Australia.—Experiments in opium-cultivation have been made during the last ten years in the neighbourhood of Melbourne, near Bairnsdale in Gippsland, and at Dromana on Port Philip Bay, and a few cwts. of opium have been obtained. The first specimens collected contained only 2 per cent. of morphia and about 8 per cent. of narcotin; in subsequent experiments opium yielding 4 to 10 per cent. of morphia was obtained. The seed, procured from Smyrna, was sown in June, July, and the beginning of August, and the opium collected in the summer months of January, February, and March. The plants attained a height of 5 to 7 feet, and each produced three or four large white flowers. The East India variety, with double purple or nearly black flowers, was found to produce only one flower and give but little opium. It seems probable that, with greater care in selection of sheltered hilly localities and rich soil for the cultivation of the poppy, and attention to the very important point of collecting the juice at exactly the right time, opium of very excellent quality might be produced in Australia in sufficient quantity to meet the local demand.

Europe.—Experiments made in England, France , Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Spain, Germany, and even in Sweden prove that opium as rich in morphia as that of Eastern countries can be produced in Europe. In 1830 Mr Young, and surgeon at Edinburgh, succeeded in obtaining 56 lb of opium from an acre of poppies, and sold it at 36s. per lb. In France the cultivation has been carried on since 1844 at Clermont-Ferrand by M. Aubergier. The justice, of which a workman is able to collect about 9·64 troy oz. in a day, is evaporated by artificial heat immediately after collection. The juice yields about one-fourth of its weight of opium, and the percentage of morphia varies according to the variety of poppy used, the purple one giving the best results. By mixing assayed samples he is able to produced an opium containing uniformly 10 per cent. of morphia. It is made up in cakes of 50 grammes, but is not produced in sufficient quantity to become an article of wholesale commerce. Some specimens of French opium have been found by Guibourt to yield 22·8 per cent. of morphia, being the highest percentage observed as yet in any opium. Experiments made in Germany by Karsten, Jobst, and Vulpius have shown that it is possible to obtained in that country opium of excellent quality, containing from 8 to 13 per cent. of morphia. It was found that the method yielding the best results was to make incisions in the poppy-heads soon after sunrise, to collect the juice with the finger immediately after incision, and evaporate it as speedily as possible, the colour of the opium being lighter and the percentage of morphia greater than when the juice was allowed to dry on the plant. Cutting through the poppy-head caused the shrivelling up of the young fruit, but the heads which has been carefully incised yielded more seed than those which had not been cut at all. Newly manured soil was found to act prejudically on the poppy. The giant variety of poppy yielded most morphia.

The difficulty of obtaining the requisite amount of cheap labour at the exact time it is needed and the uncertainty of the weather render the cultivation of opium too much a matter of speculation for it ever to become a regular crop in most European countries.

North America.—In 1865 the cultivation of opium was attempted in Virginia by Mr A. Robertson, and a product was obtained which yielded 4 per cent. of morphia. In 1867 Dr H. Black grew opium in Tennessee which contained 10 per cent. of morphia. Opium produce in California by Dr H. Flint in 1873 yielded 7 3/4 per cent. of morphia, equal to 10 per cent. in perfectly-dried opium. The expense of cultivation exceeded the returns obtained by its sale. As in Europe, therefore, the high price of labour militates against its production on a large scale.

Chemical Constitution.—The activity of opium is principally due to the vegetable alkaloid morphia or morphine, which opium of good quality contains to the extent of 8 to 17 per cent., the average amount being 10 per cent.. Opium yielding less than this is considered of inferior grade and below the commercial standard for use in medicine.

Morphia is interesting as being the first one that was discovered of the now large class of bodies known as alkaloids. Its basic nature was first clearly pointed out in 1816 by Sertürner. Its exists in opium in combination with sulphuric and meconic acids. Lactic acid has also been found in opium, but is believed to be formed in it subsequently to the collection of the drug.

Besides morphia several other basic substances have been detected in different varieties of opium, but only in minute quantities, rarely amounting to 1 per cent. These are narceia; codeia, 0·2 to 0·4 per cent.; thebaia, 0·15 to 1·0 per cent.; papaveria, 1·0 per cent.; cryptopia, meconidia, hydrocotarnia, laudanosia, protopia, codamia, gnoscopia ; also a few other bodies of a feebly alkaline or neutral character, viz., narcotic, 2 to 8 per cent. ; pseudo-morphin, 0·02 ; lanthopin, ·005; and meconoiosin.

Opium also contains in considerable quantity a resinoid body which is soluble in its own weight of water, but is thrown down when this solution is diluted with ten times its bulk of water ; 11 per cent. of caoutchouc ; a gum distinct from gum arabic ; pectin ; albumen ; wax, consisting of palmitate and cerotate of cerotyl ; and 4 to 8 per cent. of calcareous salts. Sugar has been frequently found in opium, but whether natural or added as an adulteration is not known. The amount of caoutchouc present has probably some bearing on the value of opium for smoking, since the Chinese estimate its value roughly by the "touch," i.e., the rapidity or slowness with which a thread drawn out from the mass will break by its own weight.

Of the alkaloids above mentioned only three are used to any extent in medicine, viz.. morphia, codeia, and narcotin. Narceia has also been used in medicine in France.

Morphia, C17H19NO3 — Turkey opium of good quality and freed from moisture contains from 10 to 15 per cent. of morphia, and if less than 10 per cent. be present it is probably more or less adulterated. Persian opium is very variable in this respect, when of good quality yielding from 8 to 13 per cent., while the variety met with in the form of sticks sometimes contains only 0·2 to 3 per cent Indian opium is remarkable for the low percentage of morphia, the average yield being only 3 to 4 per cent., although samples of the kinds known as Khandesh and Garden Patua have afford on analysis 6 to 7 per cent. Chinese opium is similar in this respect, giving, as a rule, only 3 to 7 per cent. of this alkaloid. The amount of morphia present in opium bears no relation to the preference exhibited by smokers, opium containing a large quantity of morphia being geneally considered by them as inferior in quality and apt to cause headache. For use in medicine those containing a large percentage of morphia are the most esteemed. Opium dried as soon as possible after being collected is usually much richer in morphia than that kept for some time in a moist state and exposed to the air ; and poppies grown on the hills yield an opium containing more morphia than those cultivated on the plains. Guibourt found that opium twenty years old contained less morphia than when previously analysed in the fresh state. To ascertain the percentage of morphia, the merchant extracts by means of an instrument like a cheese-cutter, a small cylinder of opium about the thickness of a penholder and about 2 inches long, out of one-third of the pieces in a chest, and it is considered that the analysis of these pieces will fairly represent the value of the chest. Various methods are adopted for estimating the morphia, most of which depend upon the fact that this alkaloid can be precipitated from its salty by ammonia, and that it is insoluble in ether and only very slightly soluble in cold water. When pure it forms colourless shining prismatic crystals having an alkaline reaction. It unites with acids to form salts, most of which are soluble in water. It is soluble in 36 parts of boiling and 100 of cold alcohol, in 500 of boiling water and very slightly in chloroform. It is also soluble in the fixed and volatile oils, and in solution of the fixed caustic alkalis and lime water, but only very slightly in caustic ammonia. With nitric acid it gives a red colour passing into yellow, with test solution of ferric chloride a blue colour which is destroyed by free acids or alcohol, and with sulphuric acid and bichromate of potash a greenish but not a purple or violet colour. Heated in the open air it burns readily, a portion being volatilized. The salts chiefly used in medicine are the hydrochlorate, sulphate, and acetate ; and for subcutaneous injection the tartrate has been recommended by Erskine Stuart, since it is more soluble, and more concentrated solutions can be used of it than of the other salts. Heated in a sealed tube with hydrochloric acid, morphia is decomposed and an alkaloid named "apomorphia," C17H17NO2· formed, which is one of the most speedy and effectual emetics known, and is of great value in cases of accidental poisoning, the subcutaneous injection causing the emptying of the contents of the stomach in a few minutes even when all ordinary emetics fail to act. In minute doses it has also valuable expectorant properties. It is soluble in ether and 50 parts of alcohol and in –68 parts of boiling water, but the solution soon decomposes, and assumed a green colour ; consequently it should be made fresh for use in medicine.

Codeia, C18H21NO3 — exists in opium in combination with meconic acid, and remains in solution after the morphia is precipitated by ammonia; it may be obtained by evaporating the solution and purifying the crystals that form by dissolving them in hot ether, from which it crystallized out on cooling in rather large octahedral prisms. It differs from morphia in not being soluble in solution of caustic potash or soda, while with nitric acid (sp. Gr. 1·200) it gives a yellow solution which does not become red. It is soluble in 17 parts of boiling and 80 of cold opium.

Narcotin, C23H23NO7 —This substance exists chiefly in a free state in opium ; being insoluble in cold water, it is left behind in considerable quantity when opium is macerated in that liquid, although a small portion, probably in combination with sulphuric acid, is dissolved. It is, however, very soluble in ether and benzol, and may be readily obtained by means of these solvents from the crude drug. It is doubtful if it shoul be classed with the alkaloids, for, although it forms definite compounds with some of the mineral acids, it does not exert any influence on vegetable colours. It differs from morphia in being insoluble in the caustic alkalis and not producing a blue colour with ferric salts. When heated on a piece of paper over a candle it leaves a greasy stain.

Narceia, C22H29NO9 — has been also used occasionally in medicine. Its alkaloidal character has been disputed; but it is now generally classed as an alkaloid. It differs from moprhia in giving a blue colour with dilute mineral acids, but does not give a blue colour with ferric salts or a red colour with nitric acid. For recent details concerning the less important alkaloids reference may be made to Dr Hesse’s papers, translated in the Pharm. Journ, and Trans., September 1870, p. 205, and January 1872, p. 549.

Opium of good quality for medicinal use should not lose more than 12 1/2 per cent. of water in driving, should not yield more than 8 per cent. of ash from the dried drug, and ought to afford at least 60 per cent. of matter soluble in water. It should be of somewhat tenacious consistence, yellowish brown colour, strong narcotic odour, and bitter taste. The preparation of crude opium most largely used in medicine is the tincture, commonly known as "laudanum." It is composed of 1 1/2 oz. of powdered opium and 1 pint of spirit of wine of specific gravity 0·920. This name was, however, at first applied to a solid preparation, a pill-mass made of opium and various aromatics, which in the London Pharmacopaeia of 1639 consisted of saffron, castor, ambergris, musk, and oil of nutmeg. The liquied preparation which bears the name of laudanum was apparently first introduced by the celebrated Dr Sydenham, and was inserted in introduced by the celebrated Dr Sydenham, and was inserted in the London Pharmacopaeia for 1721. It also contained aromatics.

Physiological Action.—See NARCOTICS, supra, pp. 231 –2.

Medicinal Uses.—The chief value of opium is to relieve pain, to relax spasm, to allay both local and general irritation of the nervous system, and to procure sleep. Its power of diminishing secretions is taken advantage of in the cure of catarrh, bronchorrhoea, diarrhaea, and other forms of inflammation of the mucous membranes accompanied with excessive secretion, and also in diabetes. It is found of great value when conjoined with emetics improving or stimulating the secretions of the skin. Its use is dangerous in inflammation of the brain or determination of blood to the head. The action of opium is exerted much more powerfully in proportion upon infants than upon adults, as small a does as one drop of laudanum having proved fatal to an infant. For remedies in cases of poisoning see POISONS. Morphia differs slightly in its properties from opium. It is less stimulant, and does not produce the full diaphoretic action ; it causes less headache, nausea, and constipation. When used hypodermically its action is more rapid and smaller doses are required. Codeia is used in diabetes, in coughs, &c. Narceia is considered to be purely hypnotic. Narcotic is official in the pharmacopaeia of India as a tonic in general debility arising from prolonged lactation, and in convalescence from acute febrile and inflammatory diseases.

Opium-eating.—Opium, like may other poisons, produces after a time a less effect if frequently administered as a medicine, so that the dose has to be constantly increased to produce the same result on those who take it habitually. When it is used to relieve pain or diarrhaea, if the dose be not taken at the usual time the symptoms of the disease recur with such violence that the remedy is speedily resorted to as the only means of relief, and thus the habit is exceedingly difficult to break off. Opium-eating is chiefly practised in Asia Minor, Persia, and India. Opinions differ widely as to the injurious effect of the habit; the weight of evidence appears, however to indicate that it is much more deleterious than opium-smoking. It has been practised in India from very ancient times ; some idea of its prevalence there may be gather from the fact that the mere licence fees fore one year amounted to £493,343, and that some of the opium dealers in Calcutta have each no less than seventeen shops where this drug only is sold.

The following statistics collected by Vincent Richards regarding Balasor in Orissa throw some light on the influence of this practice on the health. He estimates that one in every 12 or 14 of the population use the drug, and that the habit is increasing. Of the 613 opium-eaters examined by him he found that the average age at which the habit was commenced was 20 to 26 years for men and 24 to 30 years for women. Of this number 143 had taken the drug for from 10 to 20 years, 62 for from 20 to 30 years, and 38 for more than 30 years. The majority took their opium twice daily, morning and evening, the quantity taken varying from 2 to 46 grains daily, large doses being the exception, and the average 5 to 7 grains daily. The dose, when large, had been increased from the beginning ; when small, there had usually been no increase at all. The causes which first led to the increase of the drug were disease, example, and a belief in its aphrodisiac powers. The diseases for which it was chiefly taken were malarial fever, dysentery, diarrhaea, spitting of blood, rheumatism, and elephantiasis. A number began to take it in the famine year, 1866, as it enabled them to exist on less food and mitigated their sufferings; others used it to enable them to undergo fatigue and to make long journeys. Mr Richards concludes that the excessive use of opium by the agricultural classes, who are the chief consumers in Orissa, is very rare indeed. Its moderate use may be and is indulged in for years without producing any decided or appreciable ill effect except weakening the reproductive powers, the average number of the children of opium-eaters being 1·11 after 11 years of married life. It compares favourably as regards crime and insanity with intoxicating drinks, the inhabitants of Balasor being a particularly law-abiding race, and the insane forming only 0·0069 per cent. of the population. Dr W. Dymock of Bombay, speaking of western India, concurs in Mr Richard’s opinion regarding the moderate used of the drug. He believes that excessive indulgence in it is confined to a comparatively small number of the wealthier classes of the community. Dr Moore’s experience of Rajputana strongly supports the same views. It seems probably that violent physical exercise may counteract in great measure the deleterious effect of opium and prevent it from retarding the respiration, and that in such cases the beneficial effects are obtained without the noxious results which would accrue from its used to those engaged in sedentary pursuits. There is no doubt that the spread of the practice is connected with the ban imposed in Mohammedan countries on the use of alcoholic beverages, and to some extent with the long religious fasts of the Buddhists, Hindus, and Moslems, in which opium is used to allay hunger.

To break off the habit of opium-eating is exceeding difficult, and can be effected only by the actual restraint, or the strongest effort of a powerful will, especially if the dose has been gradually increased. Various remedies have been proposed to support the system while the habit is being dropped, the most recent of which are coca and strychnia.

The habit is not confined to India, Persia, and Turkey, but is unfortunately practiced in other forms in Western countries. In a few districts of England more opium I consumed than in the rest of the United Kingdom, and in the United States it is calculated that the number of opium-eater is 82,296, and the average of opium consumed by each-eater in the State of Michigan is estimated at 1 oz. avoirdupois per week. Advanced opium-eaters also use in addition chloral and chloroform or ether . Of late years also the practice of using hypodermic injections of morphia has been followed as a luxury by many who first experienced the speedy relief from pain, obtained by its use.

Opium-smoking.—This is chiefly practised by the inhabitants of China and the islands of the Indian Archipelago, and in countries where Chinese labour is largely employed. It is said to have commenced in China forty or fifty years before the English began to import opium into that country. In 1858 it was estimated that about 2,000,000 of Chinese smoked opium, and in 1878 from one fourth to three-tenths of the entire population of 400,000,000.

For smoking the Chinese use an extract of opium, the privilege of preparing and the exclusive right to deal in which is let to the highest holder of the monopoly in Hong-Kong pays 205,000 dollars annually. The same arrangement is in vogue in Singapore, French Cochin China, and Macao. The process of preparation is thus described by Mr Hugh M ‘Callum, Government analyst at Hong-Kong:—

"The opium is removed from its covering of leaves, &c., moistened with a little water, and allowed to stand for about fourteen hours; it is then divided into pans, 2 1/2 balls of opium and about 10 pints of water going to each pan; it is now boiled and stirred occasionally until a uniform mixture having the consistence of a thin paste is obtained. The operation takes from five to six hours. The paste is at once transferred to a larger pan and cold water added to about 3 gallons, covered, and allowed to stand for from fourteen to fifteen hours. A bunch of ‘tang suin’ (lamp-wick, the pith of some plant) is then inserted well into the mass, and the pan slightly canted, when a rich, clear, brown fluid is thus drawn off, and filtered through ‘chi mui’ (paper made from bamboo fibre). The residue is removed to a calico filter and thoroughly washed with boiling water, the wash water being reboiled and used time after time. The last washing is done with pure water ; these washings are used in the next day boiling.

"The residues on the calico filters are transferred to a large one of the same material and well pressed. This insoluble residue, called ‘nai chai’ (opium dirt), is the perquisite of the head boiling coolie, who finds a ready market for it in Canton, where it is used for adulterating, or rather in manufacturing, the moist inferior kinds of prepared opium. The filtrate or opium solution is concentrated by evaporation at the boiling point, with occasional stirring until of a proper consistence, the time required being from three to four hours ; it is then removed from the fire and stirred with great vigour till cold, the cooling being accelerated by coolies with larger fans. When quite cold it is taken to the hong and kept there for some months before it is considered in prime condition for smoking. As thus prepared it has the consistence of a thin treachy extract, and is called boiled or preapared opium. In this state it is largely exported from China to America, Australia, &c., being carefully sealed up in small pots having the name of the maker (i.e, hong) on each.

"The Chinese recognized the following grades of opium:—(1) ‘raw opium,’ as imported from India; (2) ‘prepared opium,’ opium made as above ;(3) ‘opium dross,’ the scrapings from the opium pipe ; this is reboiled and manufactured as a second-class prepared opium ; a Chinese doctor stated lately at a coroner’s inquest on a case of poisoning that it was more poisonous than the ordinary prepared opium; (4) ‘nai chai’ (opium dirt), the insoluble residue left on exhausting the raw opium thoroughly with water. The opium is sent every day from the hong (i.e., shop or firm) to the boiling-house, the previous day’s boiling being then returned to the hong. The average quantity boiled each day is from six to eight chests of Patna opium, this being the only kind used."

By this process of preparation a considerable portion of the narcotin, caoutchouc, resin, oil, or fatty and insoluble matters are removed, and the prolonged boiling, evaporating, and baking over a naked fire tend to lessen the amount of alkaloids present in the extract. The only alkaloids likely to remain in the prepared opium, and capable of producing well-marked physiological results, are morphia, codeia, and narceia. Morphia, in the state, can be sublimed, but codeia and narceia are said not to give a sublimate. Even if sublimed in smoking opium, morphia would, in McCallum’s opinion, probably be deposited in the pipe before it reached the mouth of the smoker. The bitter taste of morphia is not noticeable when smoking opium, and it is therefore possible that the pleasure derived from smoking the drug is due to some product formed during combustion. This supposition is rendered probable by the fact that the opiums most prized by smokers are not those containing most morphia, and that the quality is judged by the amount of soluble matter in the opium, by its tenacity or "touch," and by peculiarities of aroma,—the Indian opium, especially the Patua king, bearing much the same relation to the Chinese and Persian drug the champagne does to vin ordinaire. Opium-smoking is thus described by Mr Theo. Sampson of Canton:—

Opium smoking apparatus - figs 3a, 3b

Opium smoking apparatus - fig 3c


"The smoker, lying on his side, with his face towards the tray and his head resting on a high hard pillow (sometimes made of earthenware, but more frequently of bamboo covered with leather), takes the pipe in his hand ; with the other hand the takes a dipper and puts the sharp end of it into the opium, which is of a treacly consistency. Twisting it round and round he gets a large drop of the fluid to adhere tot he dipper; still twisting it round to prevent it falling he brings the drop over the flame of the lamp, and twirling it round and round the roasts it ; all this is done with acquired dexterity. The opium must not be burnt or made too dry, but roasted gently till it looks like burnt worsted ; every now and then he takes it away from the flame and rolls it (still on the en of the dipper) on the flat surface of the bow). When it is roasted and rolled to his satisfaction he gently heats the centre of the bowl, where there is a small orifice; then he quickly thrusts the end of the dipper into the orifice, twirls it round smartly, and withdraws it ; if this is properly done, the opium (now about the size of a gain of hempseed or a little larger) is left adhering to the bowl immediately over the orifice. It is now ready for smoking.

"The smoker assumed a comfortable attitude (lying down of course) at a proper distance from the lamp. He now puts the stem to his lips, and holds the bowl over the lamp. The heat causes the opium to frizzle, and the smoker takes three or four long inhalations, all the time using the dipper to bring every particle of the opium to the orifice as it burns away, but not taking his lips from the end of stem, or the opium pellet from the lamp till all is finished. Then he uses the flattened end of the dipper to scrape away any little residue there may be left around the orifice, and proceeds to prepare another pipe. The preparations occupy from five to ten minutes, and the actual smoking about thirty seconds. The smoke is swallowed, and is exhaled through both the mouth and the nose."

Large quantities of morphia are exported to China from Europe for the purpose of preparing the so-called "cure for opium-smoking," which consists of one-third of a grain of hydrochlorate of morphia mixed with a little powdered rice. The powders are taken at gradually increasing intervals, until the morphia is left off altogether.

Mr. Allen Williams, in a work recently published, states that there are now nearly a million persons in the United States who indulge in opium-smoking, and the habit seems to be on the increase in New York and other eastern cities, as well as the west. The records of the National Bureau of Statistics show that, while the number of the Chinese in the United States has remained nearly stationary since 1876, the amount of opium imported has increased from 189,354 lb of the prepared drug in 1872 to 243,211 lb of the former and 77,196 lb of the latter in 1880. Of the crude opium a certain quantity appears to be re-exported to the West Indies ; the larger proportion of the prepared drug is used in San Francisco.

So far as can be gathered from the conflicting statements published on the subject, opium-smoking may be regarded much in the same light as the use of alcoholic stimulants. To the great majority of smokers who use it moderately it appears to act as a stimulant, and to enable them to undergo great fatigue and to go for a considerable time with little or no food. According to the reports given by authorities on the subject, when the smoker has plenty of active work it appears to be no more injurious than smoking tobacco. When carried to excess it becomes an inveterate habit ; but this happens chiefly individuals of weak-will power, habit ;but this happens chiefly individuals of weak will-power, who would just as easily become the victims of intoxicating drinks, and who are practically moral imbeciles, often addicted also the other forms of depravity. The effect in bad cases is to cause loss of appetite, a leaden pallor of the skin, and a degree of leanness so excessive as to make its victims appear like living skeletons. All inclination for exertion becomes gradually lost business is neglected, and certain ruin to the smoker follows. There can be no doubt that the use of the drug is opposed by all thinking Chinese who are not pecuniarily interested in the opium trade or cultivation, for several reasons, among which may be mentioned the drain of bullion from the country, the decrease of population, the liability to famine through the cultivation of opium where cereals should be grown, and the corruption of state officials.

Further Reading. See Pharmaceutical Journ., [1] xi. p. xi. p. 395 ; [2] x. p. 434 ; Impey, Report on Malwa Opium, Bombay, 1848 ; Report on Trade of Hankow, 1869 ; New Remedies, 1876 p. 229 ; Pharmacographia, 1879, p. 42; Journal of the Society of Arts, 1882; United States Dispensary, 1883, p. 1054 ; The Friend of China, 1883, etc. (E. M. H.)


Footnotes

787-1 Aromatum Historia, ed. Clusius, Ant., 1574.

788-1 Mr R. Saunders of Ghazipur suggests (Pharm. Journ., [3], iv. p 652) that it was introduced from Nepal and afterwards supplied by the Dutch, who purchased the drug for export long before the East India Company held possessions in India.

789-1 The word yerli means "grown near," and is applied to opium produced in the immediate neighbourhood of Smyrna.

789-2 Ghéve is the commercial name for opium from Geiveh on the river Sakaria, running into the Black Sea. It appears to find its way to Constantinople via the port of Ismid, and hence is known also by the latter name.

789-3 In 1882-83 India exported to China and other places a total of 91,798 chests (126,789 cwts.) of opium, valued at £11,481,376.

790-1 This is purchased from the ryots at 12 annas per maund.



The above article was written by: Edward Morell Holmes; Curator of the Museum of the Pharmaceutical Society; author The Young Collector: British Fungi, Lichens, and Mosses.



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