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Poppy Seeds

Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using Poppy Seeds (Papaver somniferum L. and Papaver bracteatum). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.

Warning 1 - Contraindications: No contraindications have been identified.

Warning 2 - Central nervous system depressants: Poppy Seeds increase depression when used with CNS depressants. Experts recommend avoiding concurrent use.

Warning 3 - Drug testing: Poppy seeds contain very small levels of opium alkaloids such as morphine, thebaine (paramorphine), codeine etc. Although these compounds produce little effect when added to and consumed in foods they are known to show up on drug tests for drugs of abuse.

In the United States it is legal to purchase poppy seeds but all other parts of the plant are considered a schedule II controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substance Act of 1970. The Opium Poppy Exclusion Act of 1942 bans growing of the poppy in many cases but is generally not a problem for gardeners because this plant is widely grown for flowers, seeds for replanting, and for cooking. Historically poppies were a significant cash crop in the USA.

Used as a natural health remedy: Poppy Seeds is used internally for the following benefits:
  • Anti-oxidant
  • Constipation
  • Excellent source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid.
  • Good dietary fiber
  • Good levels of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium.
  • Increase HDL or "good cholesterol"
  • Insomnia
  • Lower LDL or "bad cholesterol"
  • Prevent disease: coronary artery disease and strokes
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS)

Side Effects of Poppy Seeds

The known side effects of using poppy seeds include:
  1. Drowsiness
  2. Mild stomach ache
  3. Lethargy
  4. Itchiness
  5. Slowed breathing
  6. Nausea
Warning: At high doses, this herb is dangerous and can cause death through respiratory arrest or inhalation of vomit. Constipation often results from prolonged use. Frequent use may results in tolerance and dependence. Other side effects may also occur when using poppy seeds. (See form below)

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

Return to the Herb List.

For questions and answers about the side effects of herbs see the Herb Forum

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This consumer advocate website is protected by copyright 2011 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on Poppy Seeds and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Source material: Food and Drug Administration, Medline, Physician's Desk Reference, and the largest community of people in the world, those who are concerned about side effects and healthcare.
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