chapter  13
9 Pages

Opium as a household remedy in nineteenth-century western India?

WithAmar Farooqui

This chapter looks at the medicinal or, more generally, non-recreational use of opium at the popular level in western India during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Opium was a drug of choice among some sections of western and northern Indian society at least from the later medieval period. The cultivation of poppy, its processing into opium, and the availability of the drug as a commodity prompted the Dutch and subsequently the British to include it in the list of goods for their intra-Asian trade. The Commission asked a British medical officer who had served in Rajasthan for nearly twenty years, Brigade Surgeon French-Mullen, about the purposes for which opium was used in the region and whether it was regarded as a household remedy. The common sense on opium was challenged mainly by missionaries, especially medical missionaries.