What Are Natural Opioids?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on

Natural opioids, or opiates, are those opioids that derive directly from compounds on the poppy plant. Like all opioids, they are powerful painkillers that possess a high potential for abuse and addiction.

What Are Natural Opioids?

Natural opioids are those opioids that come directly from compounds within the poppy plant. They require no action on the part of anyone or any lab in order to be used for their pain-relieving properties.

Natural opioids are often referred to as ‘opiates’ and you will even see the two terms used interchangeably at times.

However, it is important to note that while all opiates are opioids, not all opioids are opiates — in fact, most are not.

Examples of natural opioids include:

How Are Natural Opioids Used?

Natural opioids are taken directly from the opium poppy plant, which is native to the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia.

In fact, many parts of the poppy plant can be harvested, and its many uses range from medical painkillers to a simple cooking ingredient (poppy seeds).

The parts of the poppy plant which are used for medical painkillers or in illicit drugs usually have to be treated, refined, and dried before they are ready for use.

After this, they are usually made into an injectable liquid or tablet before they can be administered.

Side Effects Of Natural Opioids

It is easy to think that just because something is “natural” that it also automatically means something is healthier or safer. Many times this is the case, but not when it comes to natural opioids.

While there are many pain-relieving medical benefits found with the use of natural opioids, it is also important to note that some uncomfortable side effects may also be present with their use.

Side effects of natural opioids include:

  • constipation
  • drowsiness
  • stomach cramps or abdominal pain
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • difficult or painful urination
  • small pupils
  • mood changes
  • paranoia
  • increased sweating

Many of the side effects that come with natural opioids are the same or similar to side effects that are found with synthetic or semi-synthetic opioids.

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Is It Possible To Overdose On Natural Opioids?

It is highly possible to overdose on natural opioids, so like all opioids, they must be handled and taken with care.

Of all overdoses that occur in the United States each year, about 70% of them are opioid-related.

Symptoms of a natural opioid overdose include:

  • unable to talk
  • loss of consciousness
  • shallow breathing
  • bluish skin
  • limp body
  • slow heartbeat

It is possible to survive an opioid overdose, but quick action is necessary.

The usual treatment is a drug called naloxone, which works by binding to opioid receptors in the body and blocking the effects of other opioids.

Finding Addiction Treatment For Natural Opioids

If you or a loved one is currently struggling with an addiction to opioids of any kind, please consider giving our helpline a call.

Not only can we find you addiction treatment, but we can help you find the treatment that is individualized specifically for you.

Available substance abuse treatment plans include:

We understand that it can be hard to come forward for someone who is struggling with a substance use disorder.

Our representatives are experienced, caring, and understanding when it comes to addiction and would love to help you get started towards recovery today.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on

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