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Poppy Seed Tea: A Lethal and Life-Threatening Brew

Published on Mar 23, 2023   -  4 min read


Poppy plants are used to produce opioids. Read this article to know more.


The poppy plant, also called the opium poppy or Papaver somniferum, is used to produce opioids on a global scale. Though poppy seeds may have some nutritional content in them, the poppy seed tea that is manufactured or brewed has a life-threatening effect that puts the user at an increased mortality risk. Opioids though used for pain control are also misused in the form of poppy seed teas. Read the article to know about the mind-altering and harmful effects of this brew.

What Are Poppy Seed Teas ?

Poppy seeds contain harmful morphine and other opioid alkaloids that are still commercially available in the United States. Poppy seeds themselves may be loaded with good nutrients but are harmless only when consumed in small quantities. The tea brewed from the seeds have a great detrimental impact on health. Poppy seeds taken alone in limited quantities can be a good multi-nutrient source that can yield protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, zinc, etc.These seeds however are also used to manufacture heroin and other opiates. And particularly teas, from the contaminated seeds.

Even if one is used to consuming raw poppy seeds, remember to wash and cook the seeds so that they will remove most of the opioid compounds present in them. Also, try to limit the number of raw poppy seeds to avoid an overdose or side effects.

Nutrition experts usually warn of the dangers of poppy seed teas because they can contain higher quantities of opiates. When the unwashed or contaminated seeds, stems, and pods are brewed or sold to make poppy seed tea, it is known colloquially and collectively as "poppy straw". This creates a higher number of opiates in this tea content causing a clear psychoactive effect. This also further gives a high feeling or euphoria after ingestion because of the morphine content in it .

How Are They Manufactured?

Usually the dried pods or straw of the poppy are ground into powder form and then further steeped in water. This is a popular way where opiates are extracted from the poppy. This seed tea can also be created by steeping tea bags which contain the plant's seeds, pods, or stems. Other methods include loose brewing which is followed by straining the poppy plant remnants giving one the final content, the poppy seed tea.

Poppy seeds vary in the concentrations of codeine or morphine, and the strength of the tea made from this can differ certainly from one crop of seed to the other. It is important to note the fact that while opioids are prescribed by physicians only for pain relief and that too through a registered practitioner for a specific cause, these opiates are also misused grossly by commercial manufacturers for their ability to produce the feeling of high. An important nutritional fact to note is that it is difficult to determine the opiate concentration in poppy seed teas as well.

What Is the Detrimental Impact on Systemic Health?

Addicted individuals to opiates, morphine, or codeine may experience temporary contentment or pleasure after consumption for the feeling of euphoria. However, these drugs that are easily found in poppy seed teas can also cause:

  1. Constipation in affected individuals.

  2. Respiratory system depression.

  3. Drowsiness.

  4. Respiratory arrest.

  5. Sometimes death.

What Is Opioid Dependence and Withdrawal?

  1. People who are addicted to the consumption of poppy seed teas may be solely having this on a daily or regular basis only for the sensation of euphoria or to sustain the temporary feeling of "high". Individuals who suffer from chronic pain may also similarly be addicted to drinking tea for pain relief.

  2. Research indicates however that most of the individuals or drug addicts who are used to drinking poppy seed teas or those who consume more poppy seeds addictively; can also be capable of consuming hundreds of milligrams of morphine on a daily basis. This research is based on individuals who are suffering from a disorder called opioid dependence. These traits of being dependent on opioids will eventually worsen when they are characterized by withdrawal symptoms that occur when the individual tries to discontinue the drug consumed by morphine or opioids.

  3. Opioid withdrawal is very unpleasant and patients may report intense restlessness along with nausea, vomiting, insomnia and flu-like symptoms.

How To Report Opioid Overdose?

Addiction to opioids can occur extremely fast, especially in the initial couple of weeks after consuming this substance. One should report on individuals, who are dependent on opioids or who regularly consumes morphine or high amounts of poppy or poppy seed tea, to an emergency doctor or the nearest local drug or alcohol rehabilitation center. One should report the symptoms of addiction or that of opioid overdose.

These symptoms are indicative of an opioid overdose:

  1. Blue or gray changes in the skin color.

  2. Lips and fingernails that have started turning darker.

  3. Inability to talk all of a sudden.

  4. Loss of consciousness or fainting; snoring or gurgling sounds in affected individuals.

  5. Slow and shallow breathing.

Clinical research shows in fact that a lethal dose of morphine which would be found in contaminated poppy seed tea that is home-brewed would definitely put the individual at a high risk of mortality. Also because of the active concentration of the drug cannot be controlled in brewed poppy seed teas, it would definitely be risky to live.

Narcan or Naloxone is a helpful drug that is used by many physicians worldwide to counteract the detrimental effects of an opioid overdose. Opiates found in poppy seed teas are thus quick on the central nervous system to stimulate a habit-forming behavior. They can also lead to intolerance and physical dependence on this drug, which increases over time, not to mention the side effects or adverse systemic effects of opioid addiction.


It is best to stop such dangerous practices of brewing opiate compounds or even the consumption of poppy seed tea that can have very severe life-threatening repercussions leading to death. It is always wise to seek expert help with timely counseling from a physician or report such a situation when one is suffering from opiate addiction in any form.

Last reviewed at:
23 Mar 2023  -  4 min read




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