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Types of seeds for poppy tea

Updated June 13, 2017

Poppy tea is a psychoactive drink brewed from the pods or seeds of the Papaver somniferum plant. Poppy seeds are a common culinary ingredient and are sold along with other spices in grocery stores. Because they sometimes contain traces of opium, poppy seeds can be dangerous when consumed in the large amounts required to make poppy tea. Learning about the types of seeds used for poppy tea allows you to make informed decisions and reduce the risk of negative health effects.

Features

Papaver somniferum seeds are small, kidney-shaped seeds that range in colour from white to black, with most being dark grey. The type of poppy seeds used to make poppy tea are also used for cooking and can be purchased in large amounts by anyone. While poppy tea could technically be made from the seeds of other species, Papaver somniferum is the only strain that contains opium and produces psychoactive effects. Poppy tea contains codeine, morphine and several other psychoactive alkaloids. While the pods contain the highest amount of these compounds, unwashed seeds may contain traces of opium on their exterior.

Effects

Opium is produced naturally by Papaver somniferum and acts on the central nervous system to reduce pain, fever, diarrhoea and coughing. The opium from poppy seeds and pods can be used for its medicinal effects or can be taken recreationally to produce an opiate high. Because it affects the central nervous system, opium can cause changes in mood and perception. Like other drugs in its class, opium may cause unpleasant side effects like nausea or dizziness, according to Drug Information Online. Other common side effects of opium include constipation, drowsiness and itching.

Risks

Poppy tea carries the same risks as other opiate drugs, including addiction and overdose. Unlike pharmaceutical opiates, poppy seeds can vary greatly in their opium content, making overdose more likely to occur. Combining poppy tea with other substances that slow breathing, such as alcohol or sleep medicines, increases the risk of side effects like sedation. While poppy seeds are legal to possess, they can cause failed drug tests even when eaten in small amounts, according to Erowid.org. Frequent use of poppy tea may result in physical addiction and withdrawal. Symptoms of opiate withdrawal, such as nausea, diarrhoea, muscle pain and fever, may occur if you stop taking opium or poppy tea suddenly.

Prevention/Solution

Abstaining from poppy tea use is the only way to completely avoid the associated risks. Starting with a small amount of seeds and consuming the tea slowly over a period of several hours may help prevent overdose. Never combine poppy tea with other depressants like benzodiazepines, alcohol or sedatives, as this increases the risk of dangerous side effects like respiratory depression. If you experience difficulty breathing or other troubling side effects after consuming poppy tea, seek immediate medical attention.

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About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Tracii Hanes is a freelance writer specializing in health and psychology with over seven years of professional experience. She got her start as a news reporter and has since focused exclusively on freelance writing, contributing to websites like Wellsphere, Education Portal and more. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication arts from Southwestern Oklahoma State University.