Morphine (C17H19NO3) is a naturally-occurring opioid produced in the opium poppy plant. It exists as a white powder with a bitter taste under standard conditions, and is sparingly soluble in water.
Morphine is used a narcotic analgesic - it relieves pain by acting on the central nervous system to reduce the body’s capability to appreciate pain. When consumed, it travels to the central nervous system, where it binds to the μ-opioid receptors. This triggers pain relief, sedation, and euphoria.
However, this can also result in a depression of the respiration system, resulting in asphyxiation and hypoxia. Furthermore, morphine results in dependence and addiction, as the body reduces the number of receptors in response to the greater stimulus. Consequently, greater amounts of morphine are needed to achieve the same analgesic or euphoric effect, and when morphine is withdrawn, the lower-than-normal stimulus level results in withdrawal symptoms.
Morphine is also used as a precursor to some related opioids, such as codeine.