Poppy seed (Papaver somniferum)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Acetylcodeine, acetylmorphine, adormidera, aluminum, alpha-tocopherol, benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, breadseed poppy, brown mixture (BM), calcium, Californian poppy, campesterol, caproic acid, codeine, codeine-6-glucuronide, copper, cyclolaudenol, delta-5-avenasterol, diglyceride, dormideira, elixir paregorico (Brazil), Ethiodol®, fatty acids, fiber, gamma-tocopherol, garden poppy, hanka, heroin, hexanal, hexanol, iodized poppy seed oil, iron, kompot, linoleic acid, Lipiodol®, magnesium, morphine, morphine-3-glucuronide, morphine-6-glucuronide, narcotine (noscapine), oleic acid, Oleum papaveris Seminis, opioid, opium, palmitic acid, Papaveraceae (family), Papaver somniferum, papaverine, pentanol, pentylfuran, phytic acid, Polish heroine, poppy head, poppy seed, poppy seed tea (PST), poppy straw, protein, reticuline, sanguinarine, sitosterol, sterols, stigmasterol, tetrahydropapaveroline, thebaine, triglycerides, white poppy seed, zinc.
Note: Although some reference to other parts of the Papaver somniferum plant is made in this monograph, the main focus is on the poppy seed. California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) and opium poppy are two very different species; the former is not covered in this monograph.
The opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) is grown for opium, opiates, or poppy seeds, which are used in cooking and baking throughout the world. Morphine, a strong pain killer, is the major alkaloid of the opium poppy. Opium and the drugs derived from opium are addictive and may cause sedation or slowed breathing.
All parts of the poppy plant contain morphine and codeine; poppy seeds contain morphine in different amounts and eating foods with poppy seeds may result in false positives for opiates in a drug test. Poppy seed cake, bagels, muffins, and rolls have not been shown to contain enough poppy seed to produce a false positive.
Poppy seed itself is not used for any medical condition. Poppy seeds and poppy seed oil have been used in diagnostic procedures and as a carrier and contrast medium.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Iodized poppy seed oil (Lipiodol®) has been used to improve the detection of tumors with standard methods in patients with cancer of the liver. It has also been used as an adjunct to therapy. The effect of poppy seed oil alone is not clear from available studies. Additional studies are warranted before a conclusion can be made.
Preliminary research suggests that Lipiodol® (iodized poppy seed oil) does not benefit cognitive or motor function in iodine-deficient children; however, urinary iodine levels improved. The effect of poppy seed oil alone cannot be determined from these studies. Additional research is warranted before a conclusion can be made.
Poppy seeds and poppy seed oil have been used in diagnostic procedures and as a contrast medium. More studies are needed in this area.
Lipiodol® (iodized poppy seed oil) has been evaluated as a source of iodine in deficient individuals, particularly children. Positive results have been noted and maintained for at least one year. The effect of poppy seed oil alone has not been determined.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Anesthetic, antibacterial, antispasmodic, anxiety, aphrodisiac, asthma, astringent, bleeding (intestinal), bruises, cancer, carminative (prevents gas), catarrh (mucus discharge or blockage), cold, colic, cough, diarrhea, diaphoretic (increases sweating), drug addiction, drug delivery, dysentery, ear infection, enteritis, expectorant (loosens mucus), eye infections, fever, headache, high blood pressure, hypnotic, hypochondria, hypothyroidism (prevention), hysteria, inflammation, insomnia, liver cancer, malaria, mania, melancholy, narcotic, nausea, neuralgia, pain relief, painful menstruation, pertussis, prolapse, rheumatism, sedative, snake bite, spasm, sprain, stomachache, stress, swelling, tonic, toothache, tumor, ulcers, vaginal discharge, warts.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for poppy seed or poppy seed oil.
Ethiodol® or Lipiodol® (iodized poppy seed oil or ethiodized oil; Savage Laboratories) is an FDA-approved injectable agent used for medical diagnostics.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for poppy seed or poppy seed oil in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in patients with known allergy or hypersensitivity to poppy seed, its constituents, or any member of the Papaveraceae family. Although rare, severe reactions to poppy have been reported. Redness of the skin (erythema), hives (angioedema), pink-eye (conjunctivitis), and difficulty breathing (dyspnea) have been reported following inhalation of poppy seed.
Side Effects and Warnings
Poppy may produce hallucinogenic and sedative properties. Vomiting, swelling of the mouth, blockage of the intestines, increased cell production (hyperplasia), hernia, mental fogginess, excessive sleepiness, and tolerance to pain have been reported following consumption of poppy seed.
Use cautiously in amounts higher than normally found in the diet. All parts of the poppy plant contain morphine and codeine; poppy seeds contain morphine in different amounts and eating foods with poppy seeds may result in false positives for opiates in a drug test. Poppy seed cake, bagels, muffins, and rolls have not been shown to contain enough poppy seed to produce a false positive.
Use cautiously in patients taking central nervous system depressants, cholesterol-lowering drugs, pain relievers, drugs that suppress the immune system, and opiates.
Avoid in patients with an opioid addiction. Despite the relatively low levels of opium in the poppy seed, poppy seed tea has been suggested to cause dependence and addiction.
Avoid in patients with known allergy or hypersensitivity to poppy seed, its constituents, or any member of the Papaveraceae family.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women in amounts higher than normally found in the diet due to a lack of available evidence.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Poppy seed may interact with central nervous system depressants, pain relievers, anti-anxiety drugs, antibiotics, anti-cancer drugs, cholesterol-lowering drugs, drugs that suppress the immune system, and opiates.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Poppy seed may interact with anti-anxiety herbs and supplements, antibacterials, anti-cancer herbs and supplements, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, herbs and supplements that suppress the immune system, opiates, pain relievers, and sedatives.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Aruna, K. and Sivaramakrishnan, V. M. Plant products as protective agents against cancer. Indian J.Exp.Biol. 1990;28(11):1008-1011. View Abstract
Bhattacharya, S., Novell, J. R., Winslet, M. C., and Hobbs, K. E. Iodized oil in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma. Br.J Surg. 1994;81(11):1563-1571. View Abstract
Hamuro, M., Nakamura, K., Sakai, Y., Kobashi, S., Iuchi, T., Nanata, M., Nishida, N., Kaminou, T., Matsuoka, T., Takashima, S., and Yamada, R. [Development of non-iodized oily agent in targeting chemoembolization for hepatocellular carcinoma]. Nippon Igaku Hoshasen Gakkai Zasshi 1998;58(11):581-583. View Abstract
Higashi, S. and Setoguchi, T. Hepatic arterial injection chemotherapy for hepatocellular carcinoma with epirubicin aqueous solution as numerous vesicles in iodinated poppy-seed oil microdroplets: clinical application of water-in-oil-in-water emulsion prepared using a membrane emulsification technique. Adv.Drug Deliv.Rev. 12-6-2000;45(1):57-64. View Abstract
Huda SN, Grantham-McGregor SM, Tomkins A. Cognitive and motor functions of iodine-deficient but euthyroid children in Bangladesh do not benefit from iodized poppy seed oil (Lipiodol). J Nutr 2001;131(1):72-7. View Abstract
Kwon EO, Armenakas NA, Scharf SC, Panagopoulos G, Fracchia JA. The poppy seed test for colovesical fistula: big bang, little bucks! J Urol 2008;179(4):1425-7. View Abstract
Larsson, C., Carlsson, P., and Varenhorst, E. [Poppy seed test helps in the difficult diagnosis of vesico-enteric fistula]. Lakartidningen 9-19-2002;99(38):3703-3705. View Abstract
Lindequist S, Rasmussen F, Larsen C. Use of iotrolan versus ethiodized poppy-seed oil in hysterosalpingography. Radiology 1994 May;191(2):513-7. View Abstract
Lindequist S, Justesen P, Larsen C, Rasmussen F. Diagnostic quality and complications of hysterosalpingography: oil- versus water-soluble contrast media--a randomized prospective study. Radiology 1991;179(1):69-74. View Abstract
Melchior S, Cudovic D, Jones J, Thomas C, Gillitzer R, Thüroff J. Diagnosis and surgical management of colovesical fistulas due to sigmoid diverticulitis. J Urol 2009;182(3):978-82. View Abstract
Perry, E. K., Pickering, A. T., Wang, W. W., Houghton, P. J., and Perry, N. S. Medicinal plants and Alzheimer's disease: from ethnobotany to phytotherapy. J Pharm.Pharmacol. 1999;51(5):527-534. View Abstract
Rasmussen F, Lindequist S, Larsen C, Justesen P. Therapeutic effect of hysterosalpingography: oil- versus water-soluble contrast media--a randomized prospective study. Radiology 1991;179(1):75-8. View Abstract
Roth, S. L., Dombrowski, H., Hiort, U., Kalbfleisch, H., Ludwig, K., Siefart, F., Seher, A., and Vielhauer, E. [A new contrast medium emulsion for lymphography (author's transl)]. Rofo 1979;131(3):317-321. View Abstract
Schwaibold H, Popiel C, Geist E, Hartung R. Oral intake of poppy seed: a reliable and simple method for diagnosing vesico-enteric fistula. J Urol 2001;166(2):530-1. View Abstract
Untoro J, Schultink W, West CE, Gross R, Hautvast JG. Efficacy of oral iodized peanut oil is greater than that of iodized poppy seed oil among Indonesian schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84(5):1208-14. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017