Papaver somniferum

Other names: Other Names: Garden-Poppy, Mawseed, Opium Poppy, Blue Bread Poppy

These familiar black seeds are produced by the same plant used to make opium. Poppy seeds contain only trace amounts of opium, not enough to get a high, but enough to influence a drug test.

If you wish to grow poppy seeds, you should know that many countries and/or states have laws regarding the growing of this plant. Check to make sure it is legal to do so in your area.

Poppy seeds are rich in linoleic acid and oleic acid, unsaturated fatty acids that are useful in human nutrition.

Poppyseed as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

poppyseedsThe medicinal part is the latex extracted from the seed capsule. The cultivation of the plant and the extraction and sale of opium is banned in many countries.

Poppy is used for pain, asthma, insomnia, nervousness/anxiety, stress relief, insomnia and other sleep disturbances and chronic coughs. (This includes poppy seeds used in baked goods!)

Oil of the seeds contain anticancer potential. Research continues.

Folk medicine: Opium from the poppyseed is used most frequently as a sedative and/or analgesic. Uses in folk medicine include as a sedative in cases of typhus, intestinal tuberculosis and intestinal ulcers; for spasms of smooth muscle, bile ducts and urinary tract; for peritonitis; for gallstones, kidney stones and bladder colic; as well as for coughs and certain types of depression.

Chinese medicine: Uses in Chinese medicine include chronic coughs, diarrhea, dysentery, anal prolapse and abdominal symptoms.

Indian medicine: Irritable cough, ear and eye inflammation, proctologic symptoms, diarrhea and dysentery are considered indications for use in Indian medicine.

Culinary Uses of Poppyseed

The seeds are used for flavoring but quickly become rancid so should be kept frozen.

While poppy seeds can be pressed for oil, they are most commonly used to flavor and to add flavor, texture and color to noodles, breads, and pastries.

To bring out a nutty flavor, toast or crush poppy seeds before use. To toast the seeds, place in a small dry skillet, over medium-high heat and stir constantly until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside to cool. Use to garnish breads and rolls, ground in sauces and pastry fillings, and added to vegetables and salad dressings. Turkish cuisine is known for its use of toasted poppy seeds.

Used to flavor noodles, breads, and bagels and to make poppy seed kolachi (a Czech pastry).

Most culinary grade Poppy seeds have been steam sterilized and are not of germination quality.


No health hazards are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.

The following can occur as side effects: Clonic twitching, constipation, dizziness, general weakness, headache, hyperthermia, itchy skin, rashes and trembling of the hands.

Do not use if you are undergoing drug testing, as it can cause you to test positive for various drug use.

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