Description - Erect annual with milky juice; leaves alternate, simple, clasping, toothed; flowers terminal, with 5-more showy petals (white, pink, red, or purple); fruit a capsule with an expanded disc at the top and over small holes through which the minute seeds are dispersed.The seeds of the poppy are used to flavor food and for oil, especially in Poland and Russia: "poppy seeds, which are a source of cooking oil during fasting days (when animal lard could not be used), as well as an ingredient in cakes... Poppy seeds also appear frequently in culinary references, but especially during Lent. The seeds offered a way on abstinence days to give complex flavor to food that would otherwise contain meat products"
Pharmacology - Poppy seeds contain both morphine and codeine in minute amounts and can cause false positives for Opiates in urine tests. Most Opiate urine tests have a cut off level of 300 ng/ml. Ingestion of a single poppy seed bagel can produce an opiate level somewhere around 250 ng/ml three hours later. 3 teaspoons of store bought poppy seeds can result in 1200 ng/ml 6 hours later (1). The U.S. Military uses cut off levels of 3000 ng/ml in order to minimize false positives. The profile and levels of Opiates that show up in a urine test can generally be distinguished from Opiate use if care is taken...however it is not a simple thing and results are often mis-read by companies giving drug tests. If eaten recently and in great enough quantity, poppy seeds will result in positive morphine and codeine results, with morphine predominant. This can be distinguished from recent Codeine use because of the comparative levels of Morphine and Codeine present. However Codeine use in the past (not recent) can result in a similar profile as Morphine is a metabolite of Codeine. Codeine is eliminated from the system more quickly than Morphine, so an extended period after Codeine use, levels of Morphine may be higher than those of Codeine.
Active Constituents of the Poppy Plant - A latex containing several important alkaloids is obtained from immature seed capsules one to three weeks after flowering. Incisions are made in the walls of the green seed pods, and the milky exudation is collected and dried. Opium and the isoquinoline alkaloids morphine, codeine, noscapine, papaverine, and thebaine are isolated from the dried material.
Total yield of alkaloids is dependent on light, temperature, the plant species, and the time of harvest.
Edible Parts - Poppy seeds used as a limited topping of breads are safe, but may result in positive results in drug tests
Medicinally: Dry opium was considered an astringent, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, diaphoretic, expectorant, hypnotic, narcotic, and sedative. Poppy has been used against toothaches and coughs. The ability of opium from poppy to serve as an analgesic is well known. Opium and derivatives of opium are used in the pharmaceutical industry as narcotic analgesics, hypnotics, and sedatives. These compounds are also used as antidiarrheals, antispasmodics, and antitussives (14.1-35). Opium and the drugs derived from opium are addictive and can have toxicological effects. Each of these medicinal derivatives come from the unripe seed capsule or pod of P. somniferum.
The ripe seed pods of the opium poppy are also the source of the commonly used culinary poppy seeds.The poppy seeds and fixed oil that can be expressed from the seed are not narcotic, because they develop after the capsule has lost the opium-yielding potential.
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Contra-indications - Safe when used in minute quantities. Higly toxic and addictive - may be fatal if eaten in large quantities - contains alkaloids, morphine and others!
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