Movies & Television

What is Milk of the Poppy in House of the Dragon? Is it a Real Medicine?

**Warning – Spoilers ahead for House of the Dragon**

King Viserys has never looked worse in House of the Dragon, as his disease continued to eat away at him. To ease his pain, a staple medicine in Game of Thrones, Milk of the Poppy, was supplied and we explain exactly what the remedy is and if it exists in the real world.

Episode 8, titled The Lord of the Tides, saw King Viserys close to death six years later as his illness takes hold, now bedridden with a missing eye as the disease eats his flesh and causes him constant and severe discomfort. The King ended up having the final say on who Alicent should make king after his death, which will cause a civil war to erupt next week.

Created by George R. R. Martin and Ryan J. Condal for HBO, House of the Dragon will serve as a prequel to Game of Thrones starring Paddy Considine, Emma D’Arcy, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, and more, following the beginning of the end for House Targaryen including the family’s war known as the Dance of Dragons.

House Of The Dragon | Weeks Ahead Trailer | Sky Atlantic

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House Of The Dragon | Weeks Ahead Trailer | Sky Atlantic
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What Disease Does King Viserys Have?

Actor Paddy Considine previously confirmed to EW’s West of Westeros podcast that King Viserys has a form of leprosy.

“He’s actually suffering from a form of leprosy. His body is deteriorating, his bones are deteriorating. He is not actually old. He’s still a young man in there. He’s just, unfortunately, got this thing that’s taken over his body. It becomes a metaphor for being king, and the stress and strain that it puts on you, and what it does to you physically, what it does to you mentally.”

Since leprosy was known to be contagious, causing the victim to suffer skin lesions, ulcers, and infection that eventually deteriorates the body, concerns have been raised for Alicent’s wellbeing.

However, since the Queen has shown no signs of the disease in over ten years, we can assume this form of leprosy is not contagious, possibly symbolizing Viserys is not worthy to sit on the Iron Throne.

House of the Dragon – Cr. Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO, 2022. Warner Media, LLC

What is Milk of the Poppy?

Milk of the Poppy is known in Westeros as a potent liquid medicine used as a painkiller and anesthetic for treatment.

The liquid is made from crushed poppy seeds, which gives the medicine a white, milky color and influences its name. The sedative became known as the morphine of Westeros to fans of the show.

Higher doses of the liquid were strong enough to render the patient unconscious, allowing surgery to be performed, but its effects were mostly used to combat persistent pain.

Is Milk of the Poppy a Real Medicine? 

Yes, Milk of the Poppy does exist in the real world and is used for the same purpose, however, it was likely called something else in older times and known as opium in modern times.

Morphine and Codeine are opiates that come from the opium poppy (papaver somniferum or breadseed poppy) – a species of plant originating from the eastern Mediterranean but is now grown in Europe and Asia.

Modern medicine uses the strong opiates to this day, using the resin from poppies, and it is also used recreationally to some degree.

Photo by Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

By Jo Craig – [email protected]

House of the Dragon is now streaming on HBO Max.

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Jo Craig
@shingeekyjo

Being a pop culture writer and a proud geek of all trades, Jo loves to dissect fandoms and marvel at their insides. The entirety of The Lord of the Rings, superhero origins, the Ghost of Tsushima score, the Wings of Freedom, and the endless search for a sleepy Tyranitar are but a few of Jo's passions, with a penchant for contributing to the geek culture community.

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