I have seen some scenes where if characters about to die they are made to drink the milk of the poppy. From what animal it has been extracted? Why they are made to drink it?

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    – OrangeDog
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 12:46
  • 21
    An animal? Poppy != puppy. :)
    – void_ptr
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 17:45
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    It's an old name for opium and in GoT it is the equivalent of opium in that world
    – slebetman
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 5:45
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    @void_ptr Most milk comes from animals, so it's not a bad question.
    – Mast
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 17:49
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    @void_ptr Puppies don't have milk anyway! They have to grow up into dogs (bitches) first.
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 22:01

3 Answers 3


Milk of the Poppy is pretty much exactly what it says: it is a white liquid which is extracted from poppy flowers by cutting into the un-ripe pods before they blossom:Opium pod cut to demonstrate fluid extractionSource: KGM007 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Note that this is not a Game of Thrones invention. This is a real-life flower which is/was used in the exact same way in real-life as it is in GoT. In Germanic languages, the white fluid is called "Milchsaft" (German), "Melksap" (Dutch), or similar, which roughly translates to "milk juice". So, neither the poppy flower nor calling its product "milk" are unique to GoT. (In English, the liquid is called "latex".)

This "milk" contains opiates (morphine and codeine). The dried form of the milk is called "opium", and is the raw ingredient from which heroin and other opiate drugs can be manufactured.

Poppy is of paramount importance to the history of medicine since it made it possible for the first time to perform surgery without pain. Before the discovery of opium, this was not possible.

In GoT it is used in mostly the same way that it is used in our world:

  • as a painkiller
  • as an anesthetic
  • as a (recreational) drug

We can only guess why GRRM used the term "milk of the poppy", but I can think of a couple of reasons:

  • the normal English term "latex" may be misleading
  • it sounds more "fantastical"
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    +1 for teaching me that the milky sap (which it’s also called) of plants is called latex. Did not know that! Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 16:39
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    Thanks for the epiphany that English "sap" and German "Saft" (and more obviously Dutch "sap") probably have the same etymology. Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 16:41
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    In (BrE) common usage, "latex" almost exclusively refers to a particular form of natural rubber, which is harvested by "milking" rubber trees (but I don't know how many people know that part). Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 10:06
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    @RogerLipscombe I think that the use of the term latex for the natural rubber of the rubber tree is almost universal in normal language. Using it for other plant-juices is as far as I know never done (maybe by biologists and other professionals, I wouldn’t know about that).
    – Tonny
    Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 13:56
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    @RogerLipscombe: Indeed; the same is true in AmE.
    – ruakh
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 4:50

It is a drink made from the poppy flowers, and it is basically a drug. In real life, you can make opium from poppies, so I assume, that in the show the same properties of poppy create the painkilling effect as well as an anesthetic in higher doses.


Not from an animal but from a flower. It's a medicine made out of poppy flowers. Game of Thrones Wiki explains it pretty well:

Milk of the poppy is a powerful medicine, drunk as a liquid, which is used as both a painkiller and an anesthetic. Higher doses will induce unconsciousness, so patients can undergo surgery. It is commonly used throughout the Seven Kingdoms for those who have suffered severe injuries. Maesters make it from crushed poppy flowers and it has a white color, hence "milk of the poppy".

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    While I haven't heard the phrase "milk of the poppy" anywhere outside of Game of Thrones, in the real world poppies are used in the production of opium historically and related drugs more recently. Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 17:07
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    Note that in several Germanic languages, the white liquid produced by the poppy pod (called "latex" in English) is actually called "milk juice" ("Milchsaft" in German, "melksap" in Dutch). Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 20:36
  • @TimothyAWiseman There are large poppy fields in Afghanistan, the poppy milk is (elsewhere?) processed to Heroin. Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 7:08

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