Flower of Mexican Poppy, Chicalote – Argemone Mexicana (Papaveraceae)

Medicinal Use of Mexican Poppy, Chicalote – Argemone Mexicana (Papaveraceae)


Prickly annual growing to 3 ft (1 m). Has spiny white-veined leaves and large yellow flowers with delicate petals.

Habitat & Cultivation

Mexican poppy grows in tropical regions from the southernmost U.S. to South America. It favors dry soil and is often found in tobacco fields.

Parts Used

Aerial parts, latex, seeds.


Mexican poppy contains isoquinoline alkaloids similar to those in the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum).

History & Folklore

Like most poppies, this plant exudes a milky latex, which was traditionally used in Ecuador to treat cataracts.

Medicinal Actions & Uses

Commonly used through much of Latin America, the whole plant acts as a mild painkiller and sedative, and is taken to relieve muscle ache, toothache, and neuralgic pain. The fresh latex contains protein-dissolving properties and is traditionally applied to warts and cold sores. The flowers and seeds are mildly expectorant and can be used to treat irritable coughs and asthma.

Related Species

In Hawaii, the latex of A. glauca is also used to treat warts.


Excessive use can cause glaucoma. Use only under professional supervision.