One of the things that were often mentioned in episode 8 of House of the Dragon was milk of the poppy. This was often mentioned in relation to King Viserys Targaryen, as he was suffering from an illness that caused him considerable pain and suffering. In fact, Queen Alicent and the maesters often urged him to drink it in House of the Dragon, especially whenever he wasn’t feeling well. So, what is the milk of the poppy in House of the Dragon, and what is it used for?
Milk of the poppy in House of the Dragon is a medicinal substance that is derived from the poppy flower. This potion is a thick white liquid that is used as an opiate, especially when it comes to those suffering from severe pain. In a sense, it is a medieval painkiller that alleviates pain whenever it is consumed.
It is worth mentioning that House of the Dragon doesn’t have the modern anesthetics and painkillers that we have today, and that means that they have to use whatever substance they can find from naturally grown plants and herbs. Milk of the poppy is one of those substances that they use, as it was discovered to be able to help with pain management. Now, let’s talk more about the milk of the poppy.
What Is Milk Of The Poppy?
Episode 8 of House of the Dragon allowed us to see King Viserys Targaryen in his worst state because his illness had already gotten the best of him. We saw him suffering from a strange disease early in the series, but he managed to live through whatever was ailing him, as this illness was eating him from the inside and was taking away bits of his body steadily and slowly until nothing was left of him.
As such, in episode 8, Viserys was already a walking corpse, so to speak, because he no longer resembled the good-looking king he once was at the start of the series. Instead, he was literally skin and bones and only had one working eye. On top of that, he could barely walk or stand up on his own two feet, but he still tried to do so in his final act as king when he declared Lucerys Velaryon the rightful heir to Driftmark.
However, one of the things that both Rhaenyra and Daemon noticed was that before Viserys used his own strength to stand up and walk to the throne room, he was drowning in a substance called milk of the poppy. They mentioned that this was affecting his mind. So, what is the milk of the poppy?
Milk of the poppy is a natural medicinal substance that the maesters make by extracting it from the poppy flower. It looks like a thick white liquid, and that’s why it is called “milk,” as it actually resembles milk and comes from the poppy flower. In that regard, it isn’t a chemical substance but is actually an organic medicinal compound that is often used by the maesters whenever they are treating different people suffering from various ailments.
What Is Milk Of The Poppy Used For?
One of the things that have never been a secret in the world that George RR Martin created in his books is the fact that the maesters are quite clever in coming up with different medicinal substances from the different plants and herbs that can be found in the known world. As such, milk of the poppy is one of those medicinal substances that have been quite helpful in dealing with certain conditions.
Oftentimes, milk of the poppy is given to those who are mortally wounded as it allows the person to die without having to feel grain pain while on their deathbeds. There are also moments when it is often used to treat those who are in great pain, such as when they are in the middle of surgery or treatment from the maesters. However, there are also times when milk of the poppy is merely used for those who want to be able to sleep quickly, as one of the effects of this substance is to allow the user to feel sleepy.
In the world of Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon, milk of the poppy is used as an anesthetic due to its status as an opiate. That means that it is basically a natural pain killer that is able to help a patient when it comes to dealing with pain. As such, the maesters often give this medicine to their patients whenever they need to manage their pain, especially when they are suffering from wounds and ailments.
In that regard, those who have trouble sleeping or cannot sleep due to great pain are often given milk of the poppy as it helps alleviate pain and causes them to feel drowsy. That is exactly why King Viserys was often given milk of the poppy, as he had trouble sleeping due to the constant pain that he was feeling throughout the late stages of his illness.
However, while milk of the poppy may be effective at alleviating pain, the problem is that it can cloud a person’s mind or judgment, similar to how modern-day anesthetics work. A person who is under the influence of milk of the poppy can have clouded thoughts or even vivid dreams that are fueled by this substance. And this effect persists even after a person has awoken from sleep, especially when they have been drinking this substance quite regularly.
That is what happened to King Viserys in episode 8 of House of the Dragon. The fact that he was often drinking the milk of the poppy clouded his mind to the point that he could hardly recognize Rhaenyra and Daemon. As Daemon himself said, the king probably had trouble remembering his own name because of the effects of the milk of the poppy.
As such, when Viserys’s wounds were getting dressed early during the day when the petition for the succession of Driftmark was being heard, the king opted not to drink the milk of the poppy because he wanted to make sure that his mind wasn’t impaired when he made his judgment in the matter related to who should be the next head of House Velaryon. He also didn’t want to drink the milk of the poppy because he wanted to have one final dinner with the entire family without feeling physically and mentally dumb in what was his last moment with House Targaryen.